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Monument record MDR5595 - Borrowash Mills (site of) and Riverside House, Riverside Farm, Ockbrook

Type and Period (6)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

Borrowash cotton mill was built about 1800 on the Derwent, on the site of ancient corn mills. It was owned by the Earl of Harrington, and later by John E Swindell. It was operated by John Towle & Co in 1857, cotton doublers, with 250 hands. The first storey is stone, the two upper storeys are brick, with a brick tower. It was later a flock mill. It is now tenanted by EMEB and is threatened with demolition. (1) Borrowash Mill. Only the weirs and watercourses of the mill remain together with the former mill house, a substantial late 18th century brick building (Listed Grade II), now known as 'Riverside House'. It was used as a corn mill site from the 12th century onwards. A cotton doubling mill was constructed by the Earl of Harrington in c. 1800 and was operated for most of its life by John Towle & Co. who employed 450 workers in 1835. Towles moved to a new mill on the Shacklecross site [SMR 23807] in the early 20th century. The mill continued to operate, being later used for flock and bedding manufacture. It fell into disuse and was demolished during the 1960s. (3) The River Derwent at this point divides into two and creates a large island. A weir on the southern channel enabled the water flow on the northern channel to be well regulated. In the 13th century, mills at this location were owned by Dale Abbey, having been granted the rights in 1200. The corn mills continued to operate under the monks' control until the dissolution in 1539, when ownership transferred to private hands. Successive corn mills continued to operate on the site through to the 19th century. The mill was advertised for let on various occasions. In 1820s it was described as 'That excellent water corn mill upon the River Derwent: it is worked by three water wheels, contains six pairs of French stones, two flour machines and has a constant supply of water'. It was let together with a 'family house, stables etc.' Soon after 1826 the building appears to have been incorporated into a 'Bobbin and Lace Thread Factory. In 1913 the four storey mill, by now operated by the Nottingham Flock Company, was totally destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt but was finally demolished in 1965 and, other than some lower stone courses and the water ways, nothing now remains. However, it is clear that other industries took place on the site. For example, a lease dated 1723 shows that there was a fulling mill in operation. This was still in use in 1761, when it is referred to in an indenture. It is not known when fulling ceased. In 1764 there is evidence that an iron slitting mill was also built on the site. Little is known of this, but a will in 1820 provides a final mention, when Francis Agard left the iron mill and a corn mill to his wife (4)

Sources/Archives (4)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Nixon, F. 1969. The Industrial Archaeology of Derbyshire. p 230.
  • <2> Index: Council for British Archaeology (CBA). CBA Industrial Archaeology Report Card. Cotton Mill, Borrowash.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Fowkes, D. 1986. Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology - A Gazetteer of Sites. Part II - Borough of Erewash. p 36.
  • <4> Bibliographic reference: Gifford, A. 1999. Derbyshire Watermills: Corn Mills.. pp 63-64.



Grid reference Centred SK 415 341 (100m by 100m) (Approximate)

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Record last edited

Jul 8 2015 10:38AM

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