Mill History2018-09-06T12:00:58+00:00

History

Houldsworth Mill was built by Stott & Sons Architects for Sir William Houldsworth at the height of the cotton production in the north-west of England. In 1860, there were 2,650 cotton mills in the Lancashire region, employing a total of 440,000 people. At the time Houldsworth Mill opened in 1865, it was the largest cotton-spinning Mill in the World, covering 64 acres (260,000 m2) and employing 454 workers (more than 3 x avg).

Boasting an impressive 136,692 spindles Houldsworth Mill operated at an 80 – 250 spun thread count. In 1898 it amalgamated with the Fine Cotton Spinners Association, of which Sir William Houldsworth was the Chairman.

The cotton mill comprises of a 110ft tall octagonal chimney, set on a plinth with a highly embellished oversailer that dominates the local skyline. The building has retained much of its Victorian charm, effortlessly displaying its grand double frontage, providing an iconic image over the Reddish landscape.

Houldsworth Mill today is a fine example of how our industrial heritage can be preserved promoting its character when selling its unique space to potential new tenants and businesses.

The needs of the 21st Century are very different from those of the 19th, but by adapting to the development of businesses and their technologies, beautiful buildings like Houldsworth Mill supported by Houldsworth Business & Arts Centre management, can continue to provide a fresh and inviting space for local business and communities to grow.

Sir William Houldsworth (1834 – 1917)

William Henry Houldsworth, a son of one of the region’s wealthiest industrial families, purchased farmland next to the Stockport Branch Canal and built Reddish Mill (its name changed to Houldsworth Mill in the 1950’s).

He was a Conservative MP for Manchester North West from 1883 to 1906, and sometime chairman of the Fine Cotton Spinners’ Association. He was made a baronet in 1887. As well as the Mill, Reddish boasts a road, a large pub and the main town square all named in his honour and still standing today. The City of Manchester made him a freeman in 1905, and the Victoria University of Manchester awarded him an honorary LLD.

Cotton Mill

A cotton mill is a factory housing powered spinning or weaving machinery for the production of yarn or cloth from cotton.

This was  an important product during the Industrial Revolution when the early mills were vital to the development of the factory system.

Cotton Mill

A cotton mill is a factory housing powered spinning or weaving machinery for the production of yarn or cloth from cotton.

This was an important product during the Industrial Revolution when the early mills were vital to the development of the factory system.

Although some were driven by animal power, most early mills were built in rural locations near to fast-flowing rivers and streams and had water wheels to power them. The development of fireproof floor construction and viable rotative steam engines by Boulton and Watt led from 1781 to the growth of larger, steam-powered mills and allowed them to be concentrated in urban mill towns, most notably Manchester, which with neighbouring Salford had more than 50 mills by 1802.

The mechanisation of the spinning process in the early factories was instrumental in the growth of the machine tool industry, enabling the construction of larger cotton mills. Limited companies were developed to construct mills, and the trading floors of the cotton exchange in Manchester, created a vast commercial city. Mills generated employment, drawing workers from largely rural areas and expanding urban populations.

They provided incomes for girls and women. Child labour was used in the mills, and the factory system led to organised labour.

The cotton mill, originally a Lancashire phenomenon, was copied in New England and later in the southern states of America. In the 20th century, North West England lost its supremacy to the United States, then to India and subsequently to China.

Number of Cotton Mills in 1860

Lancashire Cheshire Derbyshire
Mills 1,920 200 25
Workers 310,000 38,000 12,000

Although some were driven by animal power, most early mills were built in rural locations near to fast-flowing rivers and streams and had water wheels to power them. The development of fireproof floor construction and viable rotative steam engines by Boulton and Watt led from 1781 to the growth of larger, steam-powered mills and allowed them to be concentrated in urban mill towns, most notably Manchester, which with neighbouring Salford had more than 50 mills by 1802.

The mechanisation of the spinning process in the early factories was instrumental in the growth of the machine tool industry, enabling the construction of larger cotton mills. Limited companies were developed to construct mills, and the trading floors of the cotton exchange in Manchester, created a vast commercial city. Mills generated employment, drawing workers from largely rural areas and expanding urban populations.

They provided incomes for girls and women. Child labour was used in the mills, and the factory system led to organised labour.

The cotton mill, originally a Lancashire phenomenon, was copied in New England and later in the southern states of America. In the 20th century, North West England lost its supremacy to the United States, then to India and subsequently to China.

Number of Cotton Mills in 1860

Lancashire Cheshire Derbyshire
Mills 1,920 200 25
Workers 310,000 38,000 12,000

What is a thread count?

Thread count signifies the number of vertical and horizontal threads in one square inch of fabric. When working with high-quality cotton, the general rule is that the higher the thread count, the better the sheet.

Both 600- and 800-thread count sheets are noticeably soft to the touch and far superior to the standard 250. Depending on your needs and budget, an 800-thread count sheet can be priced at almost double those with a 600-thread count.

At one time Houldsworth Mill’s operation proved its standards in quality by reaching spun thread counts of 700 and even 800.

Stott & Sons

Joseph Stott of Oldham perfected a method of fireproof floor construction, using steel beams supporting brick vaults, which in turn supported concrete floors that would then support heavier equipment…a turning point in the industrial revolution.

This allowed ring frames to replace mule frames; they were heavier and larger and were placed transversely, the floors became larger (up to 130 feet (40 m) wide) and higher to provide light. The bay size in a mill was defined by the positioning of machines. In an 1870 mill the bay was typically 10 feet 6 inches (3.20 m), and the brick vaults 5 feet 3 inches (1.60 m) though there were variations. Houldsworth Mill was 35 m wide and accommodated 1200 spindle mules feeding 136,692 spindles. It was of four storeys and had sixteen bays on each side of a central engine house; a double mill. The central block provided the offices and warehousing.

The Process: Bales of raw cotton (mostly imported from the US) arrived by canal and were taken into the ground floor of the mill where it was washed. On the next floor it was carded, a process which separates the fibres in preparation for spinning. The next stage was the spinning process, where the cotton was spun into thread and dyed if required, then spun onto bobbins. Next, the bobbins were taken to the weaving room, where the thread was woven into cloth. The final, and optional stage, was printing. If the fabric was to be patterned, this had to be printed on by hand using wooden print-blocks, and was the most highly skilled part of the whole process. Fully working examples of the kind of machinery used in Houldsworth Mill are on display at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry.

Contact us

Enquiries & Reception:
T: 0161 975 6000
E: workspace@roger-hannah.co.uk

Houldsworth Business & Arts Centre, Houldsworth Mill,
Houldsworth Street, Reddish, Stockport SK5 6DA

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