The Clarke Tinwhistle Company began in 1843 when Robert Clarke, a poor English farm laborer who played a wooden whistle, devised a way to make a whistle out of the then newly invented tin plate. His first prototype turned out so well that he decided to begin a business manufacturing these instruments. Together with his son, he walked all the way from Coney Weston to Manchester, pushing his tools and materials in a handbarrow.
On the way he stopped in villages where there were markets and made the tinwhistles. These he sold to villagers. Sometimes he met navigators, Irish laborers who were building railways and canals, and sold his tinwhistles to them. These Irishmen took them back to Ireland, where the English tinwhistles rapidly became Ireland's favorite folk instrument.
When Robert reached Manchester he set up his factory in a shed and soon became a successful manufacturer. Later he built two houses, a factory, and a church in New Moston, a nearby village.