Early Textile Mills and Workshops Pre 1850

We list below the information we know about early textile mills and workshops in the parish. These pre-date steam-powered textile mills built in the newly established Cowling village, in the second half of the 19th century. Textile work would also be carried out in cottages and farmhouses. The manufacturers below could be organizing much of the work both in workshops, early mills, cottages, and farmhouses. They would supply the yarn spun in the early mills to the weavers and market the finished cloth, probably in local piece halls and markets. They would also employ local carriers (pack horses) to transport the cloth from many weavers.  

Some information from one source contradicts that of another but we include both. We have included a few facts from post-1850 where we thought them to be relevant. If you have information to add or question these facts please contact us.  The sources numbered are listed at the bottom of the article.

17th-century several inventories had textile equipment listed – such as a warping mill and rings. -1   This suggests that the domestic textiles trade was being carried out locally alongside other trades, before the industrial revolution.                                                     

1787 John Ogden was a worsted manufacturer (Kildwick Parish Register) – 1 p46 This suggests that the textile industry locally was becoming organized.

Ickornshaw Mill                                                                                                                                                                 1791 John Dehane clergy of Kildwick built Ickornshaw Mill, purchased land off Hugh Smith – 1 p55. It first made wicks for candles and later spun cotton. 1 p56. On the plan drawn up at the purchase of the land, it is called a cotton mill.

1800 or earlier owned by a member of Binns family -2

1811-12 owned by  Abraham Binns.-3 

1808 John Halstead of Colne built a sizing house at Ickornshaw Mill. He later took the whole mill. – 1 p56

1816 bought by John Halstead. -3 

1820, 8th Sept – a dam was agreed on Ickornshaw Moor, by James Wilson of J Halstead & Co, Colne (Ickornshaw Mill), James Bairstow of Steeton (Sutton manufacturer, mill owner) Peter and James Hartley (Sutton mill owners, manufacturers) – It was a joint venture as they all needed a source of water in dry weather. -1 p56

1830 Ickornshaw mill is spinning but has a weaving shed built for worsted power looms. – 1 p56 1849 above dam burst – 1 p56

1868 the weaving shed was built by William Watson after he purchased the mill from John Halstead in the same year- 3 (As all weavers in the 1841 census appear to be handloom weavers and only a  few are remaining in 1870 this date seems to be the more likely for the building of the weaving shed.)

Lumb Mill looking across the mill dam or pond that supplied early water power and later steam.

Lumb Mill

1815 31 August, Mortgage – four parties to the mortgage:

1.Thomas Laycock of Lumb Mill in Kildwick, cotton manufacturer

2. Henry Laycock of Cowling, yeoman

3. Thomas Moorhouse Senior of Stainton Coates in the parish of Gargrave, gentleman John Ingham of Manchester, butcher Grace Ingham of Skipton, spinster (Executors and Executrix of Richard Ingham late of Skipton cordwainer deceased)

4. John Birkbeck, William Birkbeck, William Allcock, John Peart, and John Moffat of Settle and Skipton, bankers and partners. Property: a cottage etc. in Silsden to secure the payment of £29

Gill Bottom Mill

1818 Gill Bottom Mill in existence -5 (Early photo of the ruined mill at the top of the article)

William Smith                                                                                                                                                                            (Willie o’ Potts- byname)  -1 p21

No date – He had a weaving shop in Ickornshaw  -1 p21

1813 He owned 9 cottages in Ickornshaw -1 p21

1820 He acquired 2 cottages on New Road Side -1 p21

1822 He bought another weaving shop at Flood Root on New Road Side-1 p21

1830 He owned 14 cottages in Flood Root area. -1 p21

1830 Flood Root weaving shop partly sublet to James Hindle -1p21

No Date – He acquired grocers in Middleton 1 p21

1841 grocer in Middleton (1841 census)

Weaving Shops

Cowling Hill – now part of the farm and converted into three-holiday apartments(2021)

Gill Bottom – Samuel Gott until about 1826 -1 (Was this the old barn, now converted to a house in 2020, which was using water power from the beck at some time?)

Middleton – combing shops and weaving shops -1 p21possibly three – top floor of numbers 19 & 23

Floodroot or Flood Root – Binny Driver – lived at no.71, weaving shop three adjoining cottages. -1p47

Binny Driver is a fictitious name for a character in the 19th-century book Web of a Weaver, but the weaving shop did exist. It could have belonged to William Smith. (see above)

The outside staircase on this Middleton house indicates an entrance for workers.

 Manufacturers in 1841 Census

John Watson of Old Carhead

Benjamin Lambert of Starmire Top ( Gill Top) – Rope Maker + William Lambert

William Watson of Middleton – 1852 rented space for 80 power looms in Croft Mill from John Binns and later purchased Ickornshaw Mill in 1868 -3. (William Watson & Son Ltd with J & D Pickles) -2 1868 (lived at Winter House)1 p56 –no dates given but his son James had an accident in the wheel and later died. In 1841 James is only aged 1. -1p56

George Overton – of New Road Side

William Smith of Middleton – see above, is listed as a grocer in the census, but still could be involved in manufacturing or retired from it. It was not unusual for manufacturers to also have a shop. That way you paid money out with one hand and took it back with the other.

Other Textiles Pre 1850

1848 Sale bills of looms for sale -1 P46-7


1 Cowling A Moorland Parish 1980

2 JW Dawson letter to Craven Herald 1937 re working conditions 1800

3 Kildwick Parish Almanac 1868

4 Bradford West Yorkshire Archive

5 1818 Survey of Cowling Parish for C of E Church Wardens