Heron Mill, Hollinwood

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Heron Mill, Oldham.jpg
Heron Mill, Hollinwood is located in Greater Manchester
Heron Mill, Hollinwood
Location within Greater Manchester
Spinning (ring mill)
Location Hollinwood
Serving canal Rochdale Canal Hollinwood Branch Canal
Serving railway Oldham Loop Line
Further ownership
Coordinates 53°31′27″N 2°07′36″W / 53.5242°N 2.1268°W / 53.5242; -2.1268
Built 1905
Demolished 1960
Design team
Architect P. S. Stott
Date 1902
Engine maker George Saxon & Co
Engine type vertical cross compound engine
rpm 80 rpm
Flywheel diameter 16
No. of ropes 32
Boiler configuration
Pressure 180 psi
Manufacturer Asa Lees

Heron Mill is a cotton spinning mill in Hollinwood, Oldham, Greater Manchester. It was designed by architect P. S. Stott, and was constructed in 1905 by the Heron Mill Company Ltd next to Durban Mill. It was taken over by the Lancashire Cotton Corporation in the 1930s and passed to Courtaulds in 1964. Production ended in 1960, and it was used by Courtaulds for offices, warehousing and some experimental fabric manufacture.


Oldham is a large town in Greater Manchester, England.[2] It lies amongst the Pennines on elevated ground between the rivers Irk and Medlock, 5.3 miles (8.5 km) south-southeast of Rochdale, and 6.9 miles (11.1 km) northeast of the city of Manchester. Oldham is surrounded by several smaller settlements which together form the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham; Chadderton and Hollinwood are such settlements. Chadderton and Hollinwood are served by the Rochdale Canal and the Hollinwood Branch Canal. A rail service was provided by the Oldham Loop Line that was built by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway.


Oldham rose to prominence during the 19th century as an international centre of textile manufacture. It was a boomtown of the Industrial Revolution, and amongst the first ever industrialised towns, rapidly becoming "one of the most important centres of cotton and textile industries in England",[3] spinning Oldham counts, the coarser counts of cotton. Oldham's soils were unfavorable for crop growing, and so for decades prior to industrialisation the area was used for grazing sheep, which provided the raw material for a local woollen weaving trade.[4] It was not until the last quarter of the 18th century that Oldham changed from being a cottage industry township, producing woollen garments via domestic manual labour, to a sprawling industrial metropolis of textile factories.[4] The first mill, Lees Hall, was built by William Clegg in about 1778. Within a year, 11 other mills had been constructed,[5] but by 1818 there were only 19 of these privately owned mills.[6]

In the second half of the 19th century Oldham became a world centre for spinning cotton yarn.[6] This was due in a large part to the formation of limited liability companies known as Oldham Limiteds. In 1851, over 30% of Oldham's population were employed in the textile sector, compared to 5% across Great Britain.[7] At its zenith it was the most productive cotton spinning mill town in the world.[8][9] By 1871 Oldham had more spindles than any country in the world except the United States, and in 1909, was spinning more cotton than France and Germany combined.[10] By 1911 there were 16.4 million spindles in Oldham, compared with a total of 58 million in the United Kingdom and 143.5 million in the world; in 1928, with the construction of the UK's largest textile factory Oldham reached its manufacturing zenith.[6] At its peak, there were over 360 mills, operating night and day;[11][12]

The cotton industry peaked in 1912 when it produced 8 billion yards of cloth. The Great War of 1914–18 halted the supply of raw cotton, and the British government encouraged its colonies to build mills to spin and weave cotton. The war over, Lancashire never regained its markets. The independent mills were struggling. The Bank of England set up the Lancashire Cotton Corporation in 1929 to attempt to rationalise and save the industry.[13] Heron Mill, Hollinwood was one of 104 mills bought by the LCC, and one of the 53 mills that survived through to 1950.


Heron Mill in 1951

The 5-storey mill was built in a group with Durban Mill, and the earlier Brook Mill. It was designed by P.S.Stott. It was extended in 1977. In 1951 it still displayed the decorative features typical of a P. S. Stott mill including the double bands on the mill chimney.


The mill's machines were driven by a 1400  hp vertical cross compound engine, built by George Saxon & Co in 1902. It had a 16  ft flywheel with 32 ropes which operated at 80 rpm. The cylinders 26" HP, 50" LP had a 4  ft stroke. There were Corliss valves on both cylinders. Air pumps were driven from LP crosshead.[14]


This was a mule mill with 105,000 spindles in 1915, supplied by Asa Lees.


It is now used as a warehouse.


  • Heron Mill Company (1919
  • Lancashire Cotton Corporation (1930s–1964)
  • Courtaulds (1964–

See also[edit]


  1. ^ LCC 1951
  2. ^ Greater Manchester Gazetteer, Greater Manchester County Record Office, Places names – O to R, archived from the original on 18 July 2011, retrieved 9 July 2007 
  3. ^ Oldham County Borough Council (1973), Official Handbook of Oldham 
  4. ^ a b Butterworth, Edwin (1981), Historical Sketches of Oldham, E.J. Morten, ISBN 978-0-85972-048-9 
  5. ^ Bateson, Hartley (1949), A Centenary History of Oldham, Oldham County Borough Council, ISBN 5-00-095162-X 
  6. ^ a b c McNeil, R.; Nevell, M. (2000), A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Greater Manchester, Association for Industrial Archaeology, ISBN 0-9528930-3-7 
  7. ^ Foster, John (1974), Class Struggle and the Industrial Revolution – Early industrial capitalism in three English towns, Weidenfield & Nicolson, ISBN 978-0-297-76681-0 
  8. ^ Gurr & Hunt 1998, pp. 1–5
  9. ^ NW Cotton Towns Learning Journey, spinningtheweb.org.uk, retrieved 14 September 2007 
  10. ^ Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council (2001), Contaminated Land Strategy 2001 (PDF), oldham.gov.uk, p. 16, archived from the original (PDF) on 14 March 2008, retrieved 11 March 2008 
  11. ^ Visit Oldham – The History of Oldham, visitoldham.co.uk, archived from the original on 6 August 2007, retrieved 16 September 2007 
  12. ^ Spinning The Web – Oldham, spinningtheweb.org.uk, retrieved 28 June 2006 
  13. ^ Dunkerley
  14. ^ Roberts 1921


External links[edit]