Swan Lane Mills

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Swan Lane Mills: No.3 on left, Nos. 1 and 2 on right

Swan Lane Mills is a former cotton mill complex in Bolton, Greater Manchester.[1] All three mills are Grade II* listed buildings.[2] The mills were designed by Stott and Sons of Oldham. When completed, the double mill (Nos. 1 and 2) was the largest spinning mill in the world. It was granted Grade II* listed status on 26 April 1974.[3] Number 3 Mill was separately listed as Grade II* on the same day.[4]


Swan Lane Mills are typical of the final phase of cotton mill construction in Lancashire, of vast size and decorated with flamboyant terracotta embellishments reflecting the industry's prominence and prosperity.[5] The mill was planned as a double mill with a central boiler house and built in two phases.[6] Swan Lane Number 1 Mill was built in 1902, and Number 2 Mill three years later. The double mill was built to contain 210,000 mule spindles.[7] Number 3 Mill was built in 1915[8] and housed 120,000 mule spindles. Number 1 Mill spun fine counts using Sea Island Cotton and Number 2 Mill concentrated on medium counts using Egyptian cotton.[9]The mill also had 250 carding and 200 drawing and roving frames.[10]


The mills are constructed in brick with yellow brick decoration.[10] Both mills are of five storeys over a basement and were built in the same style with wide segmentally arched windows and flat concrete roofs. They have a yellow brick eaves band and a stone dentilled cornice. Their projecting stair towers have Italianate details and balustraded parapets. The double engine house on the north-west side was built to power both mills. The rope race tower projects behind it. The mill chimney has been reduced in height but retains an emblem of a swan in white lettering. Its internal construction is of cast iron columns and brick arched ceilings.[3] No.1 Mill is 25 bays wide and five deep with a single storey and basement extension to its north side, possibly a card room, but now used as a warehouse. No.2 Mill is 23 bays long and six deep. The mill's two-storey office block is attached next to the site entrance.[3]

The decorated entrance to No. 3 Mill

No. 3 Mill of 1915 is brick built with stone dressings, rounded corners and a ridged slate roof. It is 23 bays long,14 wide with segmentally headed windows and eight storeys high (six plus a double attic).[4] It is possibly the tallest of the mule-spinning mills most of which were up to six storeys in height.[8] Above the sixth storey is a cornice from where carved swans project at intervals and the arcaded attic has round windows to its upper storey. The south-west corner entrance has a panel with a carved swan above the doorway and accesses a staircase. The tower above it is corbelled above the fifth floor and has angle pinnacles. A two-storey extension houses the card room and warehouse. Its engine house, two bays wide and three deep, has round arched windows.[4]


George Saxon & Co supplied No. 1 Mill with a cross compound engine (works number 352) in 1903. It developed 1300hp, had 26 and 52 inch cylinders with a 5-foot stroke and its 26-foot flywheel powered the machinery via 35 ropes. In 1906 an identical engine was installed for No. 2 Mill. No. 3 Mill was powered by a 2000 hp vertical triple expansion engine also supplied by Saxons. It had a 25 feet diameter flywheel weighing 25 tons, Corliss valves and 44 ropes. Steam was generated by ten Lancashire boilers. The engines powered the entire mill complex until 1959 when motor-driven ring frames were installed but one engine continued to provide power for some processes in Nos. 1 and 2 Mills.[11]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Godsmark, Chris (3 December 1996). "Courtaulds Textiles sells last spinning mills". The Independent. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  2. ^ "Bolton mills weave a place in history". The Bolton News. 5 November 1996. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Historic England, "Swan Lane Mills Nos. 1 and 2 (1388070)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 2 November 2014
  4. ^ a b c Historic England, "Swan Lane Mill No.3 (1388071)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 2 November 2014
  5. ^ Williams & Farnie 1992, p. 120
  6. ^ Williams & Farnie 1992, p. 147
  7. ^ Williams & Farnie 1992, p. 121
  8. ^ a b Williams & Farnie 1992, p. 122
  9. ^ Williams & Farnie 1992, p. 148
  10. ^ a b Ashmore 1982, p. 83
  11. ^ Graham 2009, p. 128


  • Ashmore, Owen (1982), The industrial archaeology of North-west England, Manchester University Press, ISBN 0-7190-0820-4
  • Graham, Stanley (2009), Steam Engine Research Resources, Lulu, ISBN 9781409290094
  • Williams, Mike; Farnie, D. A. (1992), Cotton Mills in Greater Manchester, Carnegie Publishing, ISBN 0-948789-89-1

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°33′51″N 2°26′32″W / 53.5643°N 2.4423°W / 53.5643; -2.4423