The Mills of Marsden, Yorkshire, July, 2019

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People's Republic of South Yorkshire.
1. Introduction
A tale of two mills, neither of which we could get into. They are massive and dominate the skyline of this lovely Yorkshire outpost. If developed, they could bring in much welcomed income into Marsden. For now, they sit, silent reminders of the skyline of this one great industry

2. The History

(I) Bank Bottom Mill
This a four-storey mill that dates from 1824. It was originally built as a fulling mill and in the 1830s it was used by Norris, Sykes and Fisher. In 1834 Norris, Sykes and Fisher participated in the report of the Factories Commissioners into the Employment of Children in Factories, and as to the Propriety and Means of Curtailing their Labour. According to the answers given by the firm to the Commissioners, the firm had commenced manufacture of woollen cloth in 1824, using waterpower driven by the River Wessenden, employing a number of children in the mill - some below ten years of age. Boys and girls under ten were paid 3 shillings a week (about half what an adult might receive). A regular working week for all workers was a staggering 69 hours a week with days off on Sunday, Christmas Day and Good Friday. Understandably, the firm was not enthusiastic about the prospect of legislation on the question of child labour.

In the late 19th century the mill was taken over by Joseph, William and Elon Crowther. Their company, John Crowther and Sons, was named after their late father John Crowther, who was a woollen manufacturer from Golcar, West Yorkshire. By this time the mill was one of the biggest cloth-producing mills in the world with a floor space of 57,592 square yards. It contained 43 sets of carding machines and 680 looms in production in the early part of the twentieth century. Around that time the smaller mills at Bank Bottom closed and were gradually replaced by five bigger companies. These were New Mill, Clough Lea Mill, Cellar’s Clough Mill and Holme Mills. Business boomed during the 1914-18 war, thanks to the huge demand for woollen cloth for military purposes. King George V and Queen Mary visited the mill on 30th May 1918, as a mark of appreciation of the contribution it was making to the continued war effort.

Historic reports note that conditions at Bank Bottom Mill were harsh with work beginning at 6.30am when a buzzer sounded. Workers not inside the mill by this time were locked out for the day, and no wages paid. In fact, workers were paid according to the amount of woollen cloth they produced. The business was run by John Edward Crowther, a businessman and philanthropist who made a number of charitable donations to the village and people of Marsden. In 1931 the economic downturn caused by the Great Depression, causing the mill to work short time, and on 4th July, 1931 Crowther committed suicide, aged 68, a year after his wife had died. In 1935 the mill was registered as being owned by John Edward Crowther Ltd.

By the late 20th and early 21st century, the Yorkshire textile industry had fallen on hard times, and Bank Bottom Mill closed in 2003, with the loss of 275 jobs and has stood empty since. It is still owned by descendants of the Crowther family with John Edward Crowther Ltd currently listing just two people, director Philip Crowther and company secretary Edward Lee. In their latest reports (March 2016) their turnover is stated as being £224k (most likely from rental income) and total assets of £3.6m.

On Sunday 11th March, 2018, a fire started on the ground floor of the mill on Mount Road although firefighters soon had it under control.

(II) New Mill
Not so much info on this place. The mill, located on Brougham Road, was part of the firm of J E Crowther and Sons. It was occupied until its closure in 2002. Also known as the Colne Valley Spinning Co. New Mill, or Crowther & Bruce as the Mill, it was founded in 1897 and had the distinction of being one of five large Mills that took over from the home-based or luddite industries of the 19th century. Manufacturing woollen cloth, the name apparently derives from an old mill that was situated on the site prior to the construction of the Crowther Bruce Mill.

In 1936, it was reported to have 260 looms and 32 carding machines. In more recent times, The Colne Valley Spinning Co. produced carpets from 1962 until 2002. The company, along with most of the Crowther family’s former business empire are now taken care of by a shell company called JEC Holdings.

The 2005 New Mills planning application promised a massive investment in the village. It included plans to create a new health centre, a restaurant, fitness centre, 32 flats and 18,000ft of business space. However, the plans never got put into action and the mill has been empty for the last 17 years.

3. The Pictures
Despite getting into neither, I did get a number of good externals so decided to put them together in one report.

(I) Bank Bottom Mill

Truly a sight to behold:

48210868081_e9a4e27277_b.jpg img1733bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

Structurally the place is in decent nick:

48210917002_d91a604f69_b.jpg img1734bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

48210845441_f96525400e_b.jpg img1735 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48210832786_5678d85645_b.jpg img1736 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Digging the groovy metal walkways bridges:

48210876012_f5312dc77d_b.jpg img1737 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48210858762_d08620c102_b.jpg img1740bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

48210789586_78a145e817_b.jpg img1743 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48210831642_397edd87b9_b.jpg img1744 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48210817177_7ab9fc84dd_b.jpg img1745 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48210720016_a159e5ffb9_b.jpg img1750 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48210706986_6a0843159a_b.jpg img1752 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48210696096_aba0f5773c_b.jpg img1753 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48210739432_eae4853168_b.jpg img1755 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48210729657_fa4640d5d8_b.jpg img1756 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48208293902_d3177a6486_b.jpg Bottom Bank 02 by HughieDW, on Flickr

A couple of glimpses inside:

48208287317_db3cf49ce0_b.jpg Bottom Bank 03 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48208246746_0ca0a911ee_b.jpg Bottom Bank 01 by HughieDW, on Flickr

(II) New Mill
Smaller but arguably more photogenic

48208249812_c78b0f5fb6_b.jpg New Mills 05 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48208213191_468621a046_b.jpg New Mills 03 by HughieDW, on Flickr

These were my fave features:

48211078181_2e0f03e422_b.jpg img1708 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48210891121_9b5a545ac6_b.jpg img1731 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48211125582_b90e8d3e38_b.jpg img1709 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48211105087_7940fe3bdb_b.jpg img1711 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48211092007_a2e981a367_b.jpg img1712bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

48211016936_3f6aa61f0d_b.jpg img1713bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

48211038432_bb57ddd206_b.jpg img1716 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48211027127_7a5620b974_b.jpg img1717 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Note the “key-holder’s” legs in this one, just checking the mill over:

48211015777_130eaa17f9_b.jpg img1718 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48210948756_ca0a5f7720_b.jpg img1719 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48210927106_6f27c4139c_b.jpg img1726 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48210912666_1a7953bdb7_b.jpg img1727 by HughieDW, on Flickr


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Feb 20, 2008
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Rawdon Leeds
A very nice set of photographs. I some respects I am glad you did not do inside. Was fortunate to hear the clatter of the looms and the chatter of the workers in both Mills in the very early '60's. Nothing like the noise of the early, founding days, but enough to make the building feel alive. Nothing sadder than the empty and still interiors of old mills. Sad about child labour, but once the various 'Factory Acts' came into force, these places employed whole families for decades.


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Apr 3, 2008
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Lovely large buildings those. I particularly like the extra details such as cast iron signs and other bits. The tunnels linking the mill buildings are awesome - they have ships port holes in them which kinda makes sense structurally.
I do hope they are re-purposed. I know they're not unique but they do look structurally sound and worth saving.


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Jan 17, 2008
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Nice shots there, you got a better day for it than the norm in the Pennines. Pity you didn't get a look inside, the way into one of the mills was clever and convoluted but apparently was eventually rumbled, and the way into the other was a matter of luck and timing. Folk say the Crowthers don't like visitors… but their mills are very photogenic inside. I was lucky but that was a couple of years back.

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