Mention the name John Wood and chances are few if any people would have heard of him.

Yet Bradford-born Wood, who became the owner of the biggest worsted spinning business in the world, worked tirelessly to improve working conditions, in particular for children.

It was he who persuaded Leeds-born Richard Oastler to take up the cause of factory children.

A 38-page illustrated booklet by Astrid Hansen, from Wilsden, explains how the two men pursued this cause - prompted by Wood.

When, in 1830, Richard Oastler visited Wood’s Horton Hall home, he asked the anti-slavery supporter why he had not addressed the cruel practises carried out in factories.

He begged him to use his influence to try to reform factory conditions.

The book tells of the struggle surrounding such a move, which went on for many years.

Testimonies concerning hours, conditions and accidents were collected. One Leeds father told how his son worked at a machine called a crab, which caught his arm. ‘It tore the seins from the arteries and tore the muscles from the arm out’, he said. Another boy had been killed operating the same machine.

Others were badly beaten by their overseers. A clothier from Holmfirth described how he would hear children crying after being beaten and hit on the head with implements ‘making their heads crack, so that you might have heard the blow at a distance of six to eight yards.’

Wood, who was in partnership with William walker, reduced the hours of his child mill workers to ten in 1833 and the following year a ten Hours Bill went through Parliament, but there were many loopholes that were not tightened until the Factories Act of 1847 also known as the Ten Hours Act, which restricted the working hours of women and young people aged 13 to 18, in textile mills to ten hours a day.

There is no doubt that Wood’s plea to Oastler was the inspiration to his campaign.

Wood’s work as a local benefactor was extensive - in 1832, without waiting for any parliamentary recommendation, he opened a school for his factory children and took on extra employees so that children could leave their machines and attend school part-time.

In later years he moved to Hampshire where his philanthropic ways were much in evidence - he built a chapel and school among other building projects in the area.

It is not known as to why he moved so far away to retire, rather than look for a Yorkshire estate. But he continued to take an interest in Bradford matters, keeping in touch through an agent.

Sadly, he left no diaries of his time in Bradford, although he kept his Hampshire diaries meticulously.

He died in 1871.

There is no statue to Wood in Bradford, as there is of Oastler. In 2009 Bradford Historical and Antiquarian Society placed a plaque in All Saints’ School, which stands on the site of Horton Hall. John Wood’s name is recorded as one of the most distinguished occupants of that house.

“He is a man of whom this city should be proud,” says Astrid.