Flax mill

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Exterior of Marshall's flax-mill at Holbeck, Leeds, probably circa 1843
Interior of Marshall's flax-mill

Flax mills are mills concerned with the manufacture of flax. The earliest mills were ones for spinning yarn for the linen industry.

John Kendrew (an optician) and Thomas Porthouse (a clockmaker), both of Darlington developed the process from Richard Arkwright's water frame, and patented it in 1787. The first machine was set up in Low Mill on the River Skerne at Darlington, which Kendrew used to grind glass. They then each set up a mill of their own, Kendrew near Haughton-le-Skerne and Porthouse near Coatham Mundeville, both on the same river.[1]

They also granted permits, enabling others to build mills, including in northeast Scotland, where early mills included those at Douglastown in Kinnettles, Bervie, Dundee.[2] Others were built at Leeds. Matthew Murray moved from Darlington to set up a mill at Adel near Leeds, where Murray built an improved spinning machine for John Marshall. In 1791, Marshall built another mill at Holbeck in Leeds. Murray went on to become a noted textile engineer, as a partner in Fenton, Murray, and Wood.[3]

Ditherington Flax Mill at Shrewsbury was built by Marshall and Benyons of Leeds in 1797 and was the first iron-framed textile mill anywhere.[4]

See also[edit]

Flax mills in New Zealand


  1. ^ A. J. Wardey, The linen trade: ancient and modern (1864; repr. 1967), 690–92
  2. ^ Wardey, 692 and passim.
  3. ^ W. English, The Textile Industry (Longmans, London 1969), 158–60.
  4. ^ A. W. Skempton and H. R. Johnson, 'The First Iron Frames' Architectural Review (March 1962); repr. in R. J. M. Sutherland, Structural Iron 1750–1850 (Ashgate, Aldershot 1997), 25–36.