Cotton / Handloom weavers' cottages / Mills before 1877 / Mills after 1877

Cotton Mills before 1877
( before the railway )


Bank Mill, Church Street.

Spinning mill, Bank Mill, Church Street, Great Harwood
I used to catch the bus to school from that shelter.

The first power mill in Great Harwood was erected in 1844 by Lawrence Catterall who was later to be called the "father" of Great Harwood by John Mercer for this enterprise. At his wedding in 1815, where Mercer was a witness, Catterall was described as a weaver rising a year later to "calico printer of Hindle Fold". By the time he built the mill he was a handloom manufacturer but obviously saw that his days in that trade were numbered. His foresight did not include the American Civil War and the consequent Cotton Famine which ruined the business.

A four storey spinning mill with ground floor loom-shop it was extended in 1853 to accommodate more handlooms and later power looms. In 1860 there were 26,000 mule spindles, 610 looms and 300 workers. Further extensions over the years meant that in 1910 it housed:
13,224 weft mule spindles
10,400 ring spindles
944 looms

As with many mills operations were limited during the 1930s but production continued on a reduced scale until the 1960s when the mill was finally closed.

Last mill chimney in Great Harwood

Demolished in the early 1970s the site now holds a Community Centre.



St. Lawrence Mill, Mill Street.

Established in 1844-45 by William Birtwistle and William and Haworth Fielding. A spinning and weaving mill it employed 280 workers in 1857 and ran 9004 mule spindles and 445 looms in the 1870s. Spinning ceased in 1887 and a shed extension in 1895 increased loom numbers to 792. The mill closed in 1929 and some of the buildings were demolished but it was later used for waste processing and felt manufacture and in 1948 HARDURA Ltd, maker of floor coverings used extensively by the motor industry, took over employing 200 people in the 1960s.


St. Lawrence Mill's chimney is the last one standing in Great Harwood.


Britannia Mill, Queen Street.

Britannia Mill, Queen Street, Great Harwood

Built by John and Robert Mercer, sons of the chemist, and Joseph Haydock in 1849-50. Leased out to begin with the builders only took over the running of the mill in 1854 employing 360 people on 600 looms. Closed in 1869 due to the Cotton Famine it reopened in 1878 and had 649 looms in 1879. After intermittent production the mill finally closed in 1933. It was bought by the U. D.C. in 1937 and demolished. Eventually a nursery and the library were built on the site.


Advert by Church St Manufacturing Company



Church Street Mill, Mill Street.

Also known as Robin Top and Perseverance, built c1850 by Robert Smith, farmer and handloom manufacturer. About 250 looms and 280 workers in the late 1850s. Run by various companies until it too closed in 1933 parts of the mill later became a garage and print works.



Victoria Mill, Queen Street.

A weaving shed built 1852-53 by James Walmesley and Mark Noble. Employing 120 hands in the late 1850s and 516 looms in the 1890s it was extended in 1905 and looms increased to 676. In 1929 the Church Street Manufacturing Company acquired the mill and they were confident enough to place this advertisement in the Great Harwood Festival of Britain Progamme "Our Town, 1951". The mill closed in 1954.

Commercial or Clayton Street Mill, Clayton Street.

Commercial Mill entrance
Mill entrance and stub of the chimney.

A weaving shed erected in 1854 by the Great Harwood Commercial Company a co-operative started by local residents. In 1856 the firm became the first limited liability company in the area. There were 168 looms and 150 employees in 1858 increasing to 480 looms in the 1870s. After a fire in 1892 the mill was reconstructed and the number of looms increased to 528.

Northern lights of Commercial Mill
Showing the south side of the "northern lights" of Commercial Mill.
North facing roof "lights" gave more even lighting during the day than
south facing windows and avoided the full glare of the summer sun.

Mill yard of Commercial Mill
The mill yard would have been a place of great activity.

The Great Harwood Commercial Company was ruined by the slump of the 20s and 30s but cotton manufacture only came to an end in 1959-60 after which the mill was used for the manufacture of clothing (not weaving) and circular knitting. Another fire in 1973 destroyed the weaving shed and it was demolished.

Netherton House, Clayton Street, Great Harwood






Netherton House, sheltered accommodation, was built on the site
of some demolished houses and part of the Commercial Mill site.


Spring or Albion Mill, Water Street.

Constructed in 1855 by David Mercer and Brothers. 200 looms in 1858, later increasing to 480, and 200 employees in 1861. Another casualty of the Cotton Famine the mill was bought in 1866 by Mercer, Brother & Co. of Britannia Mill. There were 512 looms in 1878 but after major reconstruction in 1906 these increased to 664. Limited production after 1930 saw the mill subdivided from 1935 housing various manufacturers including slipper makers, Chenille Products, knitwear manufacturers and shoe makers.

Chenille Products advert 1951
Chenille Advert  part 2

My mum used to work in here.
Albion Mill, Water Street, Great Harwood
I should have asked them to remove the skip first.

Knitwear and chenille vanished then in 1992 footwear manufacture came to an end and now
Albion Mill have gone.


Saw Mill, Britannia Street/Water Street.

Saw Mill, Britannia Street
Britannia Street

A weaving shed built 1856-7 by Moses Birtwistle and William Brogden which had 80 employees in 1860. There were 428 looms in 1878 rising to 650 after the shed was enlarged in 1904. Closed between 1931 and 34 then again in 1941 under wartime regulations but reopened after the war and 360 looms were running in 1956. Weaving finally ceased at the end of 1979 and it was demolished in 2006.

Saw Mill, Water Street
Water Street

What was Britannia Mill, Great Harwood
May 2006 where the Britannia Street, south, wall should be. Albion Mill is behind the small chimney.


Butts Mill, Delph Road.

Early photo Butts Mill, Delph Road, Great Harwood

The foundation-stone was laid 29th June 1861 for the Great Harwood Cotton Spinning and Manufacturing Co. Ltd. but was only completed in 1865 by the Great Harwood Butts Spinning Co. Ltd. Originally a spinning mill with 42,000 mule spindles in 1880 a large weaving shed, Jubilee Mill, was added in 1896-7 housing 748 looms.

This is the original Butts Mill the ninth mill to be opened in twenty years.

Obviously a green field site compare this with the much extended Butts Mill and town in 1950.


Advert for Butts Mill 1951

part 2 off Butts Mill advert

The above advert is from "Our Town, 1951" and despite the attractive working conditions some workers in other mills didn't consider the products or processes "proper" weaving. The mill was closed in 1968, 500 losing their jobs, and was demolished in 1972.


Park View Mill, Queen Street.

Built by James Walmesley c1860. There were 288 looms in 1878, 432 in 1884 and 220 employees in the 1890s. Production ended in the early 1930s and bits of the building were demolished. There was some weaving on a small scale around 1950 but this was short lived and the mill has since been totally demolished.


Wellington Mill, Queen Street.

Built c1863 by Robert Smith and was known as "Bottom Mill". 592 looms in 1885. After suffering stoppages during the 1930s the mill was bought by the Metropolitan Leather Co. LTD when it was forced to relocate after the London factory was "partially destroyed by enemy action" in 1940.

This was the end of mill building in the town until after the rail line arrived in 1877.


Map of mills


Cotton / Handloom weavers' cottages / Mills before 1877 / Mills after 1877





Industrial Heritage: A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Gt Harwood; M Rothwell, Hyndburn Local History Society,. 1980. THE source for all figures, dates.

Old Harwood, Louie Pollard and Harry E. Eaton, Great Harwood Civic Society, 1973. Pages 4, 5, 7, 8
Great Harwood Gleanings, Louie Pollard, 1978, Lancs County Council. Passim
People and Places in Great Harwood, Louie Pollard. Pages 9,34
A Great Harwood Miscellany, Louie Pollard. Page 19
1066. Great Harwood from William the Conqueror to the Millennium, Louie Pollard, Great Harwood Civic Society, 1999. Page 17
Festival of Britain Programme, "Our Town", 1951. Pages 41, 64, 79, 81 and the advertisements.

Last updated 17th April 2020 by ifinwig
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