Lower Colden Valley Mills

Mytholm Mill

The first record of the mill is in 1789 when James King of Mytholm was involved in a dispute over taking stone from Rawtenstall Wood for building a cotton mill. James King agreed to pay Sir George Savile 2s 6d for the stone that had been removed.

James King had been a worsted manufacturer and merchant who then began cotton spinning and took a number of Leeds merchants into partnership with him. The business at Mytholm expanded very rapidly and by 1805 the mill or factory at Mytholm consisted of a cotton mill with a new mill adjoining, dyehouse, warehouse, counting house and cottage as well as fifteen cottages at King Street.

James King and partners were giving out yarn which could now be produced in large quantities to handloom weavers to be made into cloth, which was then brought back to Mytholm for dyeing and finishing. 

In about 1809 the title of the firm changed to Turner, Bent and Co.
Bales of cloth from Turner Bent and Co. were amongst exports shipped from Hull to Hamburg. In May 1814 a letter was sent to Messrs Anton Hentz of Bolzano, advising the buyers that a bale of goods and samples had been dispatched, and that to speed their journey, the samples of cloth, were in a separate parcel, to be taken by stage coach across the Alps.

From the 1830s Mytholm Mill was used for silk spinning by George Binns and Co.

The mills were part of the Mytholm Estate and when this was sold in 1868 the sale catalogue describes the mills as follows:

“the mill has a first class waterwheel 52’ 6’’ in diameter and 9’6’’ wide; the reservoirs are in good condition and supplied with water from the Colden brook, after use by the mills, through a covered tunnel there are also other and never failing springs of water running into a reservoir ... and a share or interest in Nodale dam”.
From about 1870 the mill was run for cotton spinning and used both water and steam power. It became an engineering works at the turn of the century.

In the mid 1930s the water wheel was being repaired when dam water suddenly flooded down and damaged the wheel. Later, a turbine was put in instead.

Mytholm Mill Plan
Enlarged plan from the sale of Mytholm Estate, June 1868 showing Mytholm Mill, waterwheel, reservoirs and tunnel goit
Courtesy of Halifax Library West Yorkshire Archives

Bankfoot Mill

Several mills are known to have existed in this area and there are a number of references to a Bankfoot corn mill in the 1790s, belonging to William Patchett, inn keeper of Hebden Bridge.

In 1808 an agreement was made between William Patchett of Bankfoot Heptonstall, Gentlemen, and Abraham Hollinrake of Bankfoot, Cotton Spinner:

“All that mill or factory now used as a cotton mill known as Bankfoot old mill with water wheel upright shaft, tumbling shafts, dam mill, mill races, goits, streams of water belonging, this was for a yearly rent of £147”.

There was already a steam engine at Bankfoot in 1805, but contemporary practice was to use steam engines to supplement water power. There is a reference to a water wheel being taken out in the 1830s and later records of Bankfoot Mill make no mention of one.
James Bent, who ran Bankfoot Mill from 1825 had financial problems in 1833. There is a long detailed list of the machinery:

The examinations, depositions, taken under a fiat of bankruptcy against James Bent of Bankfoot near Hebden Bridge, cotton spinner and manufacturer, dealer and chapman, include the following:

Two horses cart and gear   £51
Machinery in Mill Bankfoot £3000 –
Stock in Mill £918
Stock in warehouse, Manchester £328

James Bent’s expenses are also included:

House expenses and keep of two horses £320 pa
Travelling expenses: Once a week to Manchester and Twice a year to London @£110 pa, £577

In 1851 Horsfall and Robinson, cotton spinners and manufacturers at Bankfoot Mill were employing 33 men and 93 women, 25 boys and 38 girls.

Bankfoot Lower mill was later known as Waterside Mill. The first Ordnance Survey map of 1848 shows two mills both named Bankfoot, but the 25’’ map shows the upper mill as Bankfoot and the lower mill as Waterside. The name Waterside Mill first appears in Kellys’ Directory in the 1861, when William and Henry Horsfall, cotton spinners, occupied the mill.
From 1884-1959 the upper mill was occupied by Crabtree Bros., Dyers, and was demolished in 1971 when Colden Close was built on the site. The lower mill, Waterside, was used for dyeing and finishing.


Eaves Mills

The two Eaves Mills were probably built in about 1830 for cotton spinning but were quickly adapted as silk mills. The mills were used for spinning waste silk, which was a fairly new process - some of the earliest examples were in Brighouse and Ripponden - but by the 1830s this process had also come to Hebden Bridge. 

George Binns had begun silk spinning in the 1820s at Soyland and Severhills, but in about 1834 George Binns and Co. leased first Mytholm Mill and then the two Eaves Mills which were run by George and Nathaniell Binns, his sons. George Binns junior divided his time between the mills at Soyland and Mytholm and was described ‘coming and going like an ambassador'  “As he walked through the village you could see he was a man of importance, dressed in black cloth with a sparrow tailed coat, silk hat and spotless linen.’

When George Binns and Co. moved to Hebden Bridge they brought with them workers from their mills in Soyland and Sowerby. The 1851 Census returns gives the number of workers in the silk trade at about 150,  many of whom came from Soyland and Sowerby, with names like Taylor, Wilson, Bates and Blackburn. There were silk spinners, a silk dresser and silk twiner living at Eaves bottom Cottages, also a number of children who were silk piecers, - this involved joining together broken threads.  including Priscilla Bates, aged 10.  There were also hand loom weavers - silk-based in Heptonstall and Colden.

Hebden Bridge Silk Mills
Number of workers in the Silk Trade 1851 census

Silk Piecer 18 Mostly girls/young women aged 9 – 24, but some older ones aged 32, 49 an 57. Five teenage males aged 11 - 16
Mule Piecer 11 Boys and girls aged 10 15. Three 10 years olds who were also at school. Also 2 young women ahed 18 – 24.
Spinner 15 Men aged 29 – 53. One spinner, male, 65, was also a grocer
Twister 10 Mostly men aged 21 – 36.A couple of young women too.
Twiner 2 Men 43, 52
Doubler 4 Women, 21, 35
Drawer 7 Women 16 – 21
Dresser 12 Men 18,39
One female, 34 who was married to one of the men.
One dresser, male 36, who was also a draper.
One dresser, male 25, who was also a tea dealer.
Carder 5 Men and women 25 - 31
Frame tenter 6 All female, 12 – 21, one at school.
Female 47
Hand Loom Weaving 6  
Hand Loom silk and worsted 2  
Silk Boiler 3 Men
Weaver 2  
Stretcher 4 Men – 19 - 43
Picker 1 Female - 56
Roller 1  
Worker 1  
Turner and piecer 1  
Stripper and Grinder 1 Male - 36
Silk Waste Spinner 1 Male 56 (name implies that this mill processed waste silk).
Scutcher 1 Female – 50
Roving frame 1 Female – 26
Willow tenter 1 Female -21
Warehouseman 1 Male - 64
Watchman 1 Male - 54
Cutter and Boiler 1 Male - 33
Fectler 1 Female - 27

These mills were included in the sale of the Mytholm Estate in 1868. The sale catalogue states that the two six storey mills were occupied by George Binns and Co.  The upper mill had two water wheels each of 22’ diameter - the reservoirs were said to be “in excellent repair with a large supply of water, the head goit conveys all the water from Colden Brook and there is a share in Nodale dam included in the lot”. The Lower mill had two first class iron water wheels each 29’6’’ diameter.

The Mills were sold to the Eaves Self Help Manufacturing Company in 1907 and were run as a co–operative during the Hebden Bridge Weavers strike of 1906-8.

In 1912 the mills were then sold to William Clay and Co for dyeing and finishing. A new dyehouse was added and The Hebden Bridge Times and Gazetteer printed an article called Silk Mills Transformed which describes the mils at this time:

“The engine and waterwheels can be run together or seperately ... the engine is a powerful one of Messrs Pollit and Wigzells make, and in conjunction with the water power is all that can be desired.”

In 1917 the site was sold to the District Council and the Eaves Mills demolished in about 1925.

Mytholm c. 1900
View of Mytholm c.1900 – Mytholm Mill with Eaves Mills in the background
Photo: Alice Longstaff Gallery Collection

Valley from Mytholm
Todmorden Valley from Mytholm
Engraving by A.F Tait, 1845 showing Mytholm Mill, built by James King c.1789 and the row of workers’ cottages known as King Street
Picture: Hebden Bridge Local History Society Archive















Bankfoot Mill
Bankfoot Mill c.1895 with Eaves Mills in the background and the building of Adelaide Street in progress
Photo: The Jack Uttley Photo Library

Bankfoot Mill
Bankfoot Mill as seen from the top of Bridge Lanes
Photo: Alice Longstaff Gallery Collection









Eaves Mills
Eaves Upper and Lower Mills c.1910
Photo: Alice Longstaff Gallery Collection

Eaves Mill Reservoir
Eaves Lower Mill partly demolished c.1920
Photo: The Jack Uttley Photo Library



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