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MELLOR MILL

EXCAVATIONS

 

MELLOR MILL EXCAVATIONS

 

The site of Mellor mill is within the grounds of the Roman Lakes. The site is currently under the management of the Mellor Archaeological Trust and large areas are open to public access.

 

The dramatic fire that engulfed Samuel Oldknow’s Mellor Mill in 1892 marked an emblematic change in direction for both the valley that it once dominated and the cotton industry as a whole.  In the aftermath of the fire the remnants of the colossal mill, which at its peak in 1804 operated 10,080 spindles and employed 550 people, was salvaged for its immediate material worth and then left abandoned to be reclaimed by the natural landscape.

 

The creator of this gigantic industrial monument was Samuel Oldknow – a remarkable visionary who reshaped the valley’s natural landscape and the surrounding town.  Despite at times near bankruptcy Oldknow consistently went to great efforts to improve the valley and ensure continued employment, nourishment and moral guidance of his workforce of a level far above common practice.

 

However, despite of all his strengths in innovation and benevolence, as the mill and its infrastructure came into existence the demands on Oldknow's income soared and only due to a partnership with Richard Arkwright could his project at Mellor Mill continue.  At Oldknow's death in 1828 Mellor Mill passed to his chief creditor, Richard Arkwright.

Consequently, by the time of the mill’s destruction in 1892, the mill and the surrounding estate were still retained in the possession of the great Arkwright family.  The estates were offered for sale in 1867, but were presumably withdrawn, as it was not until 1924 that they were sold in smaller lots.  However, as early as 1917 there are records of the Furniss family, agents of the Arkwright estate, as leasing and then later purchasing the grounds surrounding the millponds that came to be established and known as the Roman Bridge Lakes Company Ltd.

 

The area rapidly became a focus of social excursions and was established as an extremely popular pleasure ground offering leisure and recreation to thousands of people who travelled for amusement from the nearby towns.

It is now over a century since Mellor Mill was destroyed and the estate was first opened to the public for enjoyment.  Nature has recovered its scarred industrial landscape.  The mill complex has, however, recently excited much archaeological attention and been subject to HLF excavations as part of the Oldknow Legacy Project.

 

It is anticipated that close work in the future between the Roman Lakes Leisure Park, The Mellor Archaeological Trust and Friends of Our Valley will ensure that the valley area can continue to be a much-appreciated local facility, used and enjoyed by all, for generations to come.

For more information on the archaeological works at Mellor Mill - click

Bob’s Mellor Mill excavations blog - click

BBC Video of the mill excavations - click

Article on the fire at the mill - click