Cotton Mills in the Deane Area
trade was established in cottages using handlooms in the 1600’s and 1700’s.
The cotton trade prospered and in 1839, Dean Parish, which covered a
large area had 16 cotton mills, which were mainly worked by steam engines.
The first steam engines used in cotton mills needed vast amounts of fuel
and so mills tended to be located near canal transport and coal mines.
1960’s Bolton was primarily a cotton town and in 1904 there were over 150
textile concerns operation in the town. In
1911 the Census Returns record over 36 000 men and women employed in the cotton
industry in Bolton. Many children
worked half-time in the cotton mills and also went to school for a few hours
each day. Schooling ended on their
13th birthday and they left without any qualifications.
Photo 12 shows the half-timers at the Albion Towel Mill in Farnworth in
1910, but there would have been very similar scenes in Deane.
Note how young most of the girls look.
The mill owner, Mr. Glass, is stood in the centre at the back of the
picture, with a hat on.
some of the mills which have operated in the Deane area:
(silk), Merton Mill (cotton), Bankfield Mill (cotton), Croal Mill (cotton),
Lincoln Mill (quilt), Gibralter Mill (cotton), Stanley Mill (cotton), Pikes Lane
Mill (cotton), Garfield Mill (cotton) and Deane Road Mill (cotton).
Croal Mill today
on Blackshaw Lane (off Wigan Road) was built in 1908 for Croal Spinning Co. Ltd.
and was a cotton mill until 1967. Since
1985 it has been used by Littlewoods, the mail order company.
It is six storeys high with a square tower which bears the name
‘Croal’ and a larger round tower. Behind
this mill is the River Croal and also the railway line.
on Jackson Street (off Cannon Street) was built in 1868 for Cannon Brothers Ltd.
as cotton mills. Stanley Mill
closed in 1971 and was demolished around 1974. The site was redeveloped and a supermarket with a large car
park was built. This supermarket
has belonged to succession of companies including Hillards, Mainstop and Tesco
and is now occupied by Kwik Save.
on Ramsbottom Street, off Derby Street and College Way was built in 1884 for
Joseph Crook and Co. In 1925 it was
taken over by Bolton Eagle Spinning Co. Ltd.
In the 1960’s it was taken over by Holt Hosiery Co. Ltd.
Crooks’ no. 1 mill was destroyed by fire in 1879.
Around 1900 there were large areas of terraced housing off Deane Road,
around Stanley Mill, Derby Street Mills, Eagle Mill and Deane Road Mill.
Though many of the mills remain, the old terraces have now been replaced
by new terraced housing and flats which have small gardens and garage provision.
working-class families began working ‘half-time’ in the factories when they
were very young. Half-time working
was intended to be a preparation for a life-time in the mill.
They left school at 13 to begin full-time work of 55.5 hours per week.
boy would start work as a ‘little piecer’, that is, an assistant to the
spinner (or minder as they were known) and his duties would include picking up
the broken ends of yarn of the spinning mules, and cleaning and oiling the
A young girl
would start half-time as a ‘tenter’, that is a weaver’s assistant,
learning all the different skills involved.
After a year or two she would be given two looms of her own to work and
later she might be promoted to four and then six.
It was very noisy due to the clatter of the looms and this made it
necessary to lip-read in order to communicate.
Outside the mill young girls worked in domestic service, the food and
drink trade, as shop assistants or dress-makers etc.
predominated in ring-spinning which was more automated than the earlier type of
spinning on a machine called a mule. Notice
the shiny black clogs worn by the mill girls in the photograph.
Clogs were worn by all working class people, including children.
There were clogs of all kinds; pit clogs, brightly polished clogs for
mills girls and special fancy clogs for Sundays with upturned toes.
They had ‘irons’ on the soles to make them last longer and they rang
out as they hit the paving stones. The
sound of clogs on the pavement was once a familiar sound in the morning and
evening as workers walked to and from the pits and mills.
There were craftsmen called cloggers who made and mended the clogs.
Below is an
extract from an account of working class life given by Allen Clarke in ‘The
Effects of the Factory System’ written in 1899, when the Lancashire cotton
industry reigned supreme. Allen
Clarke was born in 1863 at the height of a recession which was called the
‘cotton famine’. He began to work at the tender age of eleven as a ‘little
piecer’ helping to piece together the broken threads on a gigantic spinning
mule. He was far from satisfied
with the working-class lifestyle: