Middle Colden Valley Mills

Lumb Mills

The first record of Lumb mills is in 1802 when Gamaliel Sutcliffe of Stoneshey Gate obtained permission to make a road to his newly built mill at Lumb on Colden water, with a branch to Hudson Mill. 

Gamaliel Sutcliffe was a worsted manufacturer and landowner who lived at Stoneshey Gate who introduced cotton spinning into the family businesses - it appears that a second mill was built about 1805. and a few years later he was running the mills in partnership with his sons Richard and Thomas.

The following notice was printed in the Leeds Mercury, 6th May 1815
“Betty, Wife of James Greenwood of Lumb Mill diid absent herself from home without any just cause whatsoever. I give this public notice that I will not be accountable for any debt which my said wife Betty Greenwood may hereafter contract.”

On 3rd April 1818 Gamaliel Sutcliffe made an indenture with Richard, which gave him the use of Lower Lumb Mill “in consideration of the natural love and affection which he has for his son and for his advancement and preferment in the world”.

Richard was to have the right to draw water from the dams at Little Scar Ings (Hebble Hole), and to use of water from a spring that rose in the woods above Lower Lumb.  Nodale Dam and the land adjoining were to be held by Gamaliel and Richard as tenants in common.

The indenture was signed sealed and delivered in the presence of John Langthorn and John Taylor, Engineers at Lumb Mills in Heptonstall, on 3rd April, 1818.

In 1837 Gamaliel Sutcliffe leased the mills to his two sons, the Upper Mill with water wheel, gearing, machinery and cottages to Thomas, and the Lower Mill, with waterwheel and steam engine, to Richard Sutcliffe.  The mills were insured in the name of Gamaliel Sutcliffe for £5,000 each.

Gamaliel died in 1840 and the partnership between the two sons was dissolved in 1842. In 1848 the Upper Mill was leased to Titus Gaukroger and Sons, with “all that cotton mill or factory ... called Upper Lumb with the newly erected warehouse, ... together with water wheels, steam engine, steam pans or boiler, gas and gearing apparatus and pipes, main and cross shafting and gearing.”

Lumb Mill School was founded in 1845 by the owners of the mill. In 1851 there was one school room, 20’ by 16’, with 34 girls and 17 boys, who were taught reading writing and arithmetic.  The children would have worked half time, with one group at school in the morning and another in the afternoon.  Half timing ended only with the Fisher Act of 1917.

In 1851 Lower Lumb Mill was advertised to let with 4000-5000 throstle spindles – interested parties were to apply to Richard Sutcliffe at Lumb Bank. (This was the son of the Richard Sutcliffe mentioned above.)

Higher Lumb Mill closed in about 1876, but Lower Lumb Mill was sold to the Lower Lumb Cotton Spinning Company who ran the mill until about 1907.

In 1894 the outbuildings included a warehouse, cottages, blacksmiths shop and lumber rooms, also a bowling green and club house. 


Bob Mill

William Greenwood, of Little Lear Ings, Heptonstall, advertised the mill in the Leeds Intelligencer in March 1805.  The mill was available to be let for cotton or worsted spinning, and was 60 feet by 30 feet, was 3 storeys high, with a 24’ water wheel with buckets four foot wide this was supplied “by an excellent dam and a good and large reservoir near thereto, with a considerable fall, (which may be increased at pleasure) and a constant supply of water from a powerful stream called Colden Clough”.

There were also five new dwelling houses “fit for the reception of workpeople, one adjoining the mill and four nearby, the whole being a very desirable object suitable for any person in the Cotton or Worsted spinning business”.

William Greenwood was also selling machinery used in the preparation of cotton which was to be auctioned at the mill at ten o’ clock in the morning on 6th March, "carding engine roving and drawing frame a billy or devil, ... planes, chisels and a variety of tools, implements and utensils used in the cotton twist spinning business".

In 1809 this mill, also known as Slater Ing Mill, was owned by William Greenwood and occupied by Robert Sutcliffe, cotton spinner and was to be sold by auction. The notice in the Halifax Journal of May describes the mill and states that “the supply of water is constant in all seasons and that seven yards of extra fall may be made at little expense ... the situation renders the same extremely eligible by reason of the increased commerce of the country”.

In September of the same year Robert Sutcliffe was selling seven throstles for spinning cotton, one making up press and one drawing frame, said to be nearly new.

William Greenwood the owner of the mill had probably run into financial difficulties because the mill was mortgaged to Gamaliel Sutcliffe at about this time. It stood close to the Lumb mills and in 1818 was standing empty, amongst the various bequests in his will, was that of Upper Slater Ing Mill, In 1840 after the death of his father Thomas Sutcliffe inherited property at Upper Slater including "the cotton mil, waterwheel and goits ... the cottage built at the end of the said mill and the right of way across the Rough at Wood Top".

The 1851 Census Returns give these details of people living at Bob mill – Grace Greenwood, the head of the household, is described as a pauper and former handloom weaver, with her are living daughter Grace and son-in law William, who was a wool comber, and three young grandchildren.

In 1871 the mill itself was said to be in ruins but the dwelling house at the end of the mill was still tenanted..The next mention of Bob Mill is on a sad note – On 1 April 1898 Augustus Beedle of Bob Mill drowned trying to open the clew at the Dam of Lower Lumb Spinning Company’s Mill. 

In the 1960s the walls of this mill were still standing, but were demolished by a group under the direction of their probation officers! 



There was a medieval corn mill here which belonged to the Lord of the Manor. The first mention of the mill is in a document dated 1353 when it belonged to John de Sothill.

There was also a fulling mill near the site. In 1571 Thomas Hudson left his eldest son John " 3 roods of land and ... a fulling mill near the Goosehey ... and the mill dam, with license for digging and casting anew the said dam on the water of the Colden”.

In 1705, the mill called Stansfield, alias Hudson mill, was granted by Sir George Savile to Thomas Greenwood, yeoman.  The lease of the water corn mill was for 20 years “the yearly rent of eight pounds of lawful money of England at the feast of Pentecost and Saint Martin the Bishop in winter”.

The mill was used for the shelling of Oates in 1802 but when the mill was rebuilt after a fire an agreement was made between George Savile and Turner Bent and Co., cotton spinners. Turner Bent and Co. “were to have the use of the chambers over the waterwheels at the east end of the corn mill called Hudson Mill”.
The mill must have been in a dilapidated state by 1840 because in that year Thomas Barker asked the agent for stone and six good trees to rebuild the mill and dam.  He comments “the cotton trade is very low at this time.  The mill ought to be at a low rent, especially with the present depressed trade. The prospect in cotton is very gloomy.”

By 1845 it was agreed that he could set up a steam engine and replace the old water wheel with a new water wheel of improved capacity as the old wheel was for corn grinding.

Williams Barker had gone into partnership with Thomas Barker (there was no close family connection) in about 1845, weaving and finishing fustian at Hudson Mill.  This was to develop into a prosperous business, which continued under the same name until 1890s.

In 1890 ‘Industries of Yorkshire’ lists William Barker (Wood Top, Mayroyd and Hudson Mills), fustian manufacturer, dyer, finisher and wholesale clothier, fustian manufacturing at Hudson mill with 135 looms, power both steam and water, 50 hands. 

‘The Outfitter’ in an article published in 1893, cloth was taken from Hudson Mill to Wood Top for dyeing and finishing, and then to be made up into garments at Mayroyd Mill. Barkers’ trade mark was well known and they were described as ‘the first house to introduce the making up of garments for working men into the locality’. The firm had made its reputation for what were known as ‘partridge cords’.

Harry Greenwood, whose reminiscences were published by the Arvon Foundation in 1976, was a weaver at Hudson mill in about 1904. The mill ran with a gas engine and had a plant for making gas and it had a water wheel which ‘ran away’ sometimes. The mill was three storeys high and they were weaving fustian by weight.
There was a tollhouse at Hudson Mill. The road past the mill was closed to traffic in January 1911. Hudson Mill itself closed in about 1908.

Note on Jack Bridge Mill. This mill was built as a steam powered mill in 1861 and was the last mill to be built in the Colden Valley.

19 December 1884 Between Abraham Gibson of Greenwood Lee (The Liquidator of the Colden Cotton and Commercial Co Ltd in voluntary liquidation) vendor and Gamaliel Sutcliffe of Stoneshay Gate cotton manufacturer, William Gibson of Stoneshay Gate cotton manufacturer, William Mitchell Sutcliffe of Heptonstall Grocer, purchasers - agreement on sale and purchase of the Company's Estate and Effects. Recently burnt down mill called Jack Bridge Mill and the remains thereof with the Weaving Shed, Warehouse buildings cottages engine house engines boilers shafting mill gear and millwright work etc.

Upper Lumb Mill partly demolished, c.1920
Photo: Alice Longstaff Gallery Collection

Lower Lumb Mill
Lower Lumb Mill
Photo: The Jack Uttley Photo Library


















Dwelling house at one end of Bob Mill with the rest of the mill in ruins
Photo: The Jack Uttley Photo Library

Bob Mill
Built c.1805, the walls of Bob Mill remained standing until the 1960s
Photo: The Jack Uttley Photo Library















Hudson Mill
Hudson Mill – taken from William Barker’s Catalogue when Hudson Mill was used as part of his ready made clothing business
Courtesy of the Jack Uttley Photo Library

Hudson Mill from Hebden Hole
Hudson Mill seen from Hebble Hole
Photo: Hebden Bridge Local History Society Archive

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