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Monument record MDR425 - Birch Vale Printworks, Spinnerbottom, Birch Vale

Type and Period (3)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

Only a small section at the western end now remains of the former calico-printing works of John Bennett & Co. This is a single storey stone building that was probably part of the gas works. The mill ponds also survive, but the main site has been cleared and is occupied by modern factory buildings. An impressive terrace of mid-19th century gritstone housing with slated roofs and semi-circular headed windows also remains. There is a segmental return to the row adjacent to the road with a double-fronted house dated 1854, having flat-headed windows and a columned and corniced door entrance. (1) The New Mills website maintained by Steve Lewis states that the first reference to the Birch Vale Printworks on the River Sett was in 1823, when it was being used for Calico printing, with the first known owner being John Yates. (2) This website also includes a transcribed newspaper report from the High Peak Reporter of 18 August 1893, stating that a steeplejack was repairing the chimney at the print works and that it was 216 feet high. (3) This chimney is presumably the one labelled on the 1st edition 25" OS map of c. 1880, standing slightly apart from the main complex to the south, on the opposite side of the Hayfield branch railway. (4) Cine film was shot from the trains on the New Mills to Hayfield branch railway in the autumn of 1969, just before the closure of the line, and shows the chimney still towering over the railway. Some time around the end of the 1960s the top third of the chimney was taken down when it was observed to be swaying in strong winds. Later, after 1972, the whole chimney was demolished and the trees on the boundary with the former railway were felled. It is thought that debris from the demolition and felling was used to fill the chimney base and the associated flue. The site it stood on was then developed for housing. The original print work buildings were also cleared away and replaced by the Birch Vale Industrial Estate. In spring 2013 a small hole was discovered at the top of the banking on the south side of the Sett Valley Trail behind the garden of 9 Station Road. A site investigation in July 2013 found a void approximately 3 metres deep with the remains of brick walls at the sides but the roof of the flue having been broken away. It was partially filled with soil, decaying tree trunks and bricks. A visual inspection from the opening revealed that the arched brick flue was still intact and unfilled under the Trail and it curved away downhill in a north-westerly direction. There was a scattering of loose bricks on the floor and a cable appeared to run down the flue. Uphill from the opening it was blocked by the infill mentioned above, although this is not compacted and several other voids were visible extending under the neighbouring garden. Where this alignment intersects the lower ground of the industrial estate at the side of a car parking area there is a concrete block wall built into the bank, which elsewhere is just made of soil. It is assumed that this wall blocks the downhill end of the flue and that the remainder of its route to the printing works boilers was destroyed when the buildings were demolished and the levels altered to build the current industrial estate. Some photographs of the flue were taken from the top opening before the concrete cap was laid and the Trail bank re-instated [see report]. (5)

Sources/Archives (5)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Fowkes, D. 1984. Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology - A Gazetteer of Sites. Part I. Borough of High Peak. p. 22.
  • <2> *Internet Web Site: Lewis, S. 'The Cotton Mills and Printworks of New Mills and District', on the New Mills website.
  • <3> *Internet Web Site: Lewis, S. 'Birch Vale Mill Chimney' on the New Mills website.
  • <4> Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1882. OS County Series, 1st edition, scale 1:2500 (c. 25" to one mile).
  • <5> Unpublished document: Monk, C (DCC). 2013. Chimney Flue from Former Birch Vale Print Works, Derbyshire: History and Site Investigation.



Grid reference Centred SK 023 869 (684m by 297m) Approximate

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

  • EDR3119

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External Links (0)

Record last edited

Feb 12 2024 4:52PM

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