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Site record MDR676 - Site of Howard Town Mills, High Street East, Glossop

Type and Period (9)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

Former site of Howard Town Mills, High Street East, Glossop, a 19th century facility. What was left of the complex was described in this way in 1984: 'Principally a five-storey gritstone 19th century mill buildings, mainly spinning blocks. Some weaving sheds survive along the north side of Glossop Brook. Two detached blocks are now the major remains. The Victoria Street entrance has two early 19th century classical gatehouses (listed buildings). Despite a great deal of demolition, this complex continues to dominate the centre of Glossop. The first mill on the site was a fulling mill of 1783 near Victoria Bridge and this was changed into a spinning mill before 1811: no trace of this now remains. John Wood purchased the mill in 1819 and developed a vast vertical cotton firm on this site which finally shut down in the 1960s. Like all the surviving mills in Glossop, the remaining buildings are used for a variety of light industrial uses. The former owner's residence, 'Howardtown House' survives on the south side of High Street East.' (1) 1981 OS map shows mill pond surviving at that time. (2) 'This early 19th century mill dominates the centre of Glossop. The main mill is a five-storey, flat-roofed building of many periods; stone built with rectangular windows. The river façade has 15 bays. There is an ornamental stone wall along Victoria Street with classical style pedimented entrance lodges at the gates. The projecting storey of the tower is also ornamental with a slate roof, topped by cast iron railings. Spinning blocks and weaving sheds survive alongside the northern side of Glossop Brook. (3) The Howard Town Mills of John Wood and Brothers Ltd was the largest textile mill in North-West Derbyshire. At its peak it was one of the largest integrated cotton mills in the country. The nine and a half acre complex of steam powered spinning and weaving sheds occupied a large proportion of Glossop town centre and its establishment largely determined the location of Glossop new centre, Howard Town, which was developed from the early 19th century. A water-powered fulling mill, later a spinning mill, stood at the west end of the site from 1783. This was occupied by John Wood from 1819. Power looms were in use by the mid-1820s and by the middle of the century the site had developed into a large integrated complex. It is not clear whether any structures survive from this period, but published illustrations indicate that it comprised a number of steam-powered spinning mills and sheds, including one six-storeyed mill which was at least 33 bays long. Further expansion and rebuilding continued until the early 20th century. In 1887 the site contained 221,000 spindles, 3360 looms and employed over 2000 workers. Over a third of the complex has been demolished, but the surviving buildings still form the largest component of Glossop's industrial architecture. The principal features are two multi-storeyed spinning mills, one overlooking the entrance at the west end of the site. These are separated by extensive weaving sheds. A separate intact weaving shed forms the east end of the site. The late 19th century five-storeyed west spinning mill is stone-built to a wide plan of about 14 bays in length and 10 wide. It retains most of its original features, including a three-storeyed warehouse of 12 bays extending from the east end, an internal engine house in a tower projecting from the north side, and a later engine house, dated 1910, attached to the west end. The main entrance to the site is an architecturally-impressive group of structures by the north side of the mill. The gate piers are flanked by pedimented offices in 'classical' style and overlooked by the two engine houses and an Italianate sprinkler tower with a mansard roof. The weaving sheds in the central part of the complex were probably built in four or more phases but have been extensively altered or demolished. The second spinning mill to the east was formerly an exceptionally large five-storeyed mill built in two phases of about three bays. The surviving building comprises the east 22 bays and is of mid 19th century date. Single-storeyed sheds with flag roofs attached to the south may include the boiler house and card room extensions. (4) Milltown Mill, Howard Town was erected for the spinning of cotton, it was leased to Thomas Shaw on the 10th February 1803. It was situated in the New Croft area, bounded to the east by the Glossop to Whitfield road and to the south by Glossop Brook. By 1831 John Beesley was the sole owner. By 1838 the mill changed hands to Messers Daniel Hodgson and Jonathan Wright. On 27th January 1842 a fire broke out and the mill was totally destroyed. John Wood bought the mill outright and within a year had the mill fully operable and making a profit. Also on the Howard Town site was Old Mill and Burgess' Mill. The latter was demolished in 1859 to make way for the Commercial Mill which was built in 1860. Bridge End Mill, Howard Town stood in the vicinity of where Victoria Bridge (1837) now stands. It was built originally as a fulling mill when the first lease was taken out in December 1782. On 2nd September 1800 George Burgess took out a lease but proved to be an unsuccessful cotton manufacturer and the mill was put up for sale on 5th March 1813, John Wood purchased the mill for £1,900. Although the official name was Bridge End Mill, John Wood referred to it as Howard Town Mills. When John died in 1854 his sons Samuel, Daniel and John took over and were excellent business partners and generous benefactors to the town. Bridge End Mill, which had become part of the Howard Town Mills, closed down in 1957. (4) The narrow mill, consisting of a 5 storey mill, engine house, office block and sheds, which lay at the eastern end of the original mill complex and which dated from 1845 onwards were the subject of building recording prior to demolition, some time after 2015. This part of the spinning complex had been sold to Volcrepe Rubber in 1932. The survey found that the 5 storey iron-framed mill was relatively unchanged after the take over, but that the engine house, office block and sheds underwent major alterations. Alterations included the widening of corridors, the addition of a toilet block and the creation of storage areas. A warehouse was also added to the east of the original complex. In 2018 the OS map indicated that almost all of the complex had been levelled. (4) A major program of archaeological works was carried out in 2016. (5)

Sources/Archives (5)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Fowkes, D. 1984. Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology - A Gazetteer of Sites. Part I. Borough of High Peak. p 20.
  • <2> Map: OS. 1981. OS 1981 1:10000.
  • <3> Index: Council for British Archaeology (CBA). CBA Industrial Archaeology Report Card. Howardtown Mills.
  • <4> Unpublished document: Michael Williams. 1997. RCHME Historic Building Survey - Summary Report: Howard Town Mills, Glossop.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Reader, R (University of Salford). 2015. Archaeological Building Survey: Woods Mill, the Narrow Spinning Mill, Glossop.



Grid reference Centred SK 03712 94050 (502m by 267m)

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (5)

  • EDR1890
  • EDR4634
  • EDR1889
  • EDR4682
  • EDR3566

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Record last edited

Oct 3 2023 2:27PM

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