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Lancashire Historic Town Survey

Textile industry: calico printing

Calico printing was established in Clitheroe from the 1780s, and remained a significant industry throughout the first half of the nineteenth century. The first printworks to be established was at Up Brooks, and was known as Shaw Bridge Mill or the Puff and Dart (Langshaw 1953b, 5). The Brewery cotton mill was a printworks working by 1809 established, as the name implies, in a former brewery. By 1821, however, it was being used as a size works, and in 1837 it was replaced by a large, water-powered cotton mill (Langshaw 1953b, 6). The largest printworks was at Primrose Mill, established as a spinning mill but which was sold on as a print works in 1810 (Ashmore 1969, 259). The printworks went bankrupt in 1854, and when it later reopened, only part of the original works remained in use as a printworks (Langshaw 1953b, 10). A small printworks, called Bridgewater Printworks, opened in Duck Street in 1838 (Langshaw 1953b, 8), and was still working in 1842 (LRO DRB 1/52).

Textile industry: spinning and weaving

Factory-based textile production was first introduced in the late eighteenth century, at Low Moor from 1782 (Ashmore 1966) and at Primrose Mill, where there was a four-storey spinning mill from 1787 (Ashmore 1966, 125; Rothwell 1992, 7). Although Primrose Mill became a printworks in the early nineteenth century, following bankruptcy in 1854, it was divided up into separate businesses, and the original four-storey mill was used for cotton spinning by 1860, with a conversion to ring spinning in 1905 (Langshaw 1953b, 10; Rothwell 1992, 8). On the Mearley Brook was the Old Shaw Bridge Mill, probably a wool carding and jenny mill from the late eighteenth century, but which converted to cotton spinning in 1807 (Rothwell 1992, 10). Cotton spinning became the main industry in Clitheroe in the nineteenth century, and most early mills, such as Salford Bridge Mill in 1827 (Langshaw 1953b, 7) and Holmes Mill of around 1830 (Langshaw 1953b, 8) were built for cotton spinning. Some later factories were also built as spinning mills, such as Waterloo Mill in 1858 (Langshaw 1953b, 10), Shaw Bridge Mill in 1860 (Langshaw 1953b, 10), Victoria Mill in 1861 (Langshaw 1953b, 11) and Commercial Mill in 1861-3 (Rothwell 1992, 16), although all later converted to weaving or added weaving sheds (Rothwell 1992, 10-16). Others were built as weaving mills, including, Foulsykes Mill of 1861 (Langshaw 1953b, 12), Brooks Mill of 1880 (Langshaw 1953b, 13) and Jubilee Mill of 1887 (Ashmore 1969, 259). Albion Mill was built as a small weaving mill in c 1860 on the site of a saw mill and bobbin makers (Langshaw 1953b, 11). It closed in 1883, but was later renovated and reopened (Rothwell 1992, 14). The predominance of spinning mills until a relatively late date may be a result of the lack of plentiful cheap labour, to which many of the east Lancashire towns had access (Timmins 1996, 49-50). Clitheroe remained a rural market centre in a sparsely populated area. Its position on the northern periphery of the east Lancashire industrial area would have made it less attractive to immigrants and perhaps insulated it from the dominance of the Manchester spinning industry (Williams and Farnie 1992, 19-20).

Plate 11: Holmes Mill, founded around 1830

© Lancashire County Council 2006 23

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