Cowling Parish Textile Mills 18 – 20th Centuries

Below is a list of all the steam powered mills that have been used for manufacturing textiles in Cowling Parish. It was originally written by the late Dennis Harker as a brief introduction to Cowling’s mills. All but Gill Bottom Mill were manufacturing at the same time in the late 19th and early twentieth century. All but Gill Bottom and Lumb Mills continued in textile production until the late 20th century. When the six mills were all fully manufacturing, on occasion, weavers were bussed in from Lancashire, as the parish population was not large enough to meet the need.

 Ickornshaw Mill  

Built-in 1791 as a water-powered cotton mill by the Rev John de Hayne Vicar of Kildwick Parish Church. It first made candle wicks for candles. It was sold to John Halstead of Colne, who’s son was killed by the rioters when drawing plugs out of the boilers to try to stop power looms being introduced.  It has been divided up into domestic houses/flats and small industrial units.

Ickornshaw Mill as it looked in the 20th century, looking towards Colne Road.

Gill Bottom Mill

In existence in 1818 and destroyed by fire in Nov 1870. Upstream in 1875 William Henry Gott had a rope/twine works. Downstream was a small hand loom mill opposite some cottages. Handloom weavers would have to pay for the floor space (rent), and had to provide their own candles for lighting. It is now converted into a house.

An early picture of the ruin of Gill Bottom Mill. A bungalow now occupies the site of the building on the left.(2021)

Croft Mill  

Built by John Binns and the first looms were running in 1852.  Called the ‘Croft’ Mill because the first part was built in the croft at the back of The Bay Horse Inn.  It was owned from 1880 by the two sons of John Binns, John, and Thomas. In 1890 they parted company and Thomas built Carr Mill. Croft mill is now a housing estate called Mill Croft.

An aerial view of Croft Mill in the 20th century

Royd Mill, also known as The Baulk   Built circa 1875 by William Marchbank  after his partnership with John Binns was dissolved. The name ‘Baulk’ mill was given because of the type of steam engine used.  It was a ‘Beam’ engine with a big ‘baulk’ of wood as the rocking part of the driving mechanism.  It wove cotton for a lot of years.  It is now a housing estate called Royd Court and part of it on Keighley Road.

A view of Royd Mill from the recreation ground

Carr Mill  

First built circa 1895 by Thomas Binns and bought by John Binns and Sons in 1898   During the 1939 / 45 war, the two mills wove Royal Air Force shirting, balloon fabric, silk charge cloth, rayon identification fabric, electrical insulation fabric, and man-carrying parachute fabric.  The firm was taken over by Viyella in the late ’60s and the last looms were scrapped in 1971. It is now an extension of the Acre Road housing estate.

An aerial view of Carr Mill in the 20th century

Acre Shed  

Built circa 1880 by John Hartley.  The land, (3acres 2roods 5perches) cost £2890 13sh 1d. 300 power looms wove curtain material, furnishings, and a wool/cotton mix for suiting.   Now a housing estate called Acre Road and Acre Mews.

A view the site of Acre Shed from Keighley Road during demolition.

Lumb Mill

Originally a water powered corn mill. By 1840’s it was a saw mill and produced chairs and bobbins. From 1861 to 1930’s its power looms were operated by steam power to produce worsted. From 1870’s to its close in 1930’s it was run by the Gill family.

Lumb Mill workers outside the mill’s three buildings in the early 20th century

Freegate Mill or Brook Mill, Ickornshaw

In 1875 Smith Hartley was a manufacturer of cotton and worsted goods employing 26, and Phineas Snowden was employing 75 manufacturing cotton and worsted goods.  It is now a small foundry-making garden benches.