roman lakes leisure park
Tel: 0161 427 2039
A C T I V I T I E S
Park, Lake and Kiosk
8am - Dusk
TUESDAY - SUNDAY
Open Bank Holidays
Bank Holidays 10-5
and Weds-Fri 10-4
Park, Lake and Kiosk
except Bank Holidays
Heritage Lottery Fund Success:
"Revealing Oldknow's Legacy: Mellor Mill and the Peak Forest Canal in Marple."
A project in the heart of Our Valley:
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 mills destruction 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 mills 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 The estates were offered for sale in 1867, but were presumably withdrawn, as it was not until 1924 that they were sold in small lots.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. Prior to our families possession of the Lakes the water levels would be lowered each winter and the Lakes opened for winter ice-skating. In addition to this summer boating and a dance floor, for which the Marple Band would play every Sunday, were complemented by the tearoom facilities both onsite at the Lakes and next door at ‘Webs Tearooms.’ An amusement arcade offered enthusiastic visitors the opportunity to electrocute yourself for a penny and glimpse at ‘what the butler saw,’ ensuring the necessary volume of visitors to justify the weekend presence of a policeman.
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 to the extent that an unknowing visitor could pass through the valleys tranquil surroundings unaware of the past it holds. The mill complex has, however, recently excited much archaeological attention.
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
Article on the fire at the mill - click