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Stop 12: Mayfield supply stores
the Mayfield Supply Stores and Post Office in the Square. It was built around
1860 as part of the Model Village during the Malcomson era. It still stands in
the square with its original shop front and railings. It is Walsh’s shop
today. Mayfield Stores was a general supply store and formed part of the
commercial centre of Portlaw. It also has the “Portlaw roof”. The building
beside it, now Walsh’s shop, was an old post office. The shop accepted leather
money from the cotton mill workers at one time. Banks honoured the leather
money. Mayfield Stores was in the centre of the town. It is now partly a house
and a shop. It has very high ceilings and is very spacious with eleven rooms
Portlaw's Leather Money
After the bank act of 1846, the Malcomsons got permission to issue their own "token money", although it had been in use since about 1832.
It was legal tender within a radius of thirty miles. The money was called leather but it is actually cardboard; it just looks as if it was leather. The money was represented by (2/-). Each token bore the signatures of the Portlaw industrialists.
A great London financial house put it in writing, "We guarantee Messers Malcomsons Bros. to the extent of two million pounds sterling".
In 1844 the Malcomson Brothers took action against two newspapers that attacked the factory for employing slaves who received no money but small tokens to procure goods at the shops of "the tyrants". This was untrue and the Malcolmsons were awarded £500.