Upper Colden Valley Mills

Land Mill

This mill is believed to have been built in about 1796 when it was being used for cotton spinning by John Greenwood.  

A Valuation of Stansfield Township in 1805 gives Land Mill owned by John Greenwood and occupied by John Blakey, “Factory Building with the advantage of a Waterfall, Lodge etc. with an annual value of £28-10-0d. There was also a house, garden, stable and one cottage.”

The next record of the mill is from a newspaper reference and shows that there had been a change of occupation. On 28th November 1808, John Marshall and Harry Riley, cotton spinners, gave notice in the Halifax Journal that their partnership in the concern carried on at Land Mill was dissolved by mutual consent.

Land Mill was included in Samuel Crompton’s survey of cotton mills with four mules and 960 spindles. Samuel Crompton had invented a spinning machine which he called a ‘mule’ because it combined the principles of Hargreaves’ spinning jenny and Arkwright’s water frame, both invented a little earlier. Because Crompton had never patented his invention a large number of variations on the mule were used, all based on his design. Crompton travelled through the north of England in 1811 and was eventually voted a pension by Parliament.  

In Pigots’ Directory of 1825 John Greenwood is listed as a manufacturer of cord, fustian and dimity, attending the Manchester market.

The 1851 Census Returns for Land Mill give James Greenwood, aged 38, as a manufacturer employing 15 people, and Richard, his brother, who is listed as power loom weaver, Cotton.

The mill was still owned and occupied by the Greenwoods in the 1860s, and it was this family who enlarged the mill by additions such as a weaving shed and a new warehouse
By the 1870s the mill was occupied by Benjamin King but owned by William Barker. In the 1871 Census Returns, Benjamin King is living at Shaw Bottom, (near Hudson Mill) and is described as a fustian manufacturer with one servant.

William Barker was born at Scotland Farm above Colden, but by 1861 was living at Wood Top in Erringden and it was here that his wife and two daughters began sewing garments by hand. William Barker has been described as the Father of ready made clothing.  He leased first Hudson Mill, then Mayroyd, and then also Land Mill.  Land Mill was used for weaving fustian cloth.     

In 1882 the mill was advertised to let with two cottages and one and a half acres of meadow land.  The mill was said to be “well fitted with shafting and gearing for 52 fustian looms, nearly new, and all the necessary appliances for fustian weaving.  The motive power consists of a Water Wheel which is sufficient to turn the Mill except in dry seasons also capital Steam engine and Boiler. Hebden Bridge Times, 18.10.1882.”

The mill appears not to have been let and continued to be used by William Barker for weaving fustian.  In 1888, it had both water and steam power. It was then briefly used by Frank King (William Barker’s son-in-law) before being dismantled in 1893.

Rodmer Clough

This mill was advertised in the Leeds Intelligencer on 28th January 1793 and described as “a newly built cotton or worsted mill ready to be let and entered to at pleasure”.  The mill at Rodmer Clough was at “a populous part of the parish of Halifax, four miles from Todmorden and two miles from Hebden Bridge, upon a constant and regular stream of water, with a fall of forty foot.  A new waterwheel, with principal machinery calculated for working frames for spinning cotton or worsted is already fixed.”
There was a house at one end of the mill and land was available if required. John Greenwood of Heverill Shaw would show the premises, and further particulars were available from the owner, Mr. Thomas Lister of Halifax.

The mill was evidently not let but instead Thomas Lister entered into a partnership with a William Dewhirst. In 1801 Thomas Lister and William Dewhirst insured “a cotton and worsted mill with dwelling house adjoining at Clough, called Lister Mill, own occupation, for £500”.  This included the following items:

Millwrights work   £50
Spinning roving drawing engines and all worsted machinery £300
Clock makers work, spinning and carding engines and all cotton machinery, £590
Stock in trade and all moveable utensils £400  
Total £1,590

In 1802, William Dewhirst sold eight water frames for spinning worsted, with combs and other articles used in the worsted manufacture and also one pair of Broad Cloth Looms. The mill was then used solely for cotton spinning.

The Valuation of Stansfield, 1805, gives “Clough, Factory Building, Cottage and Waterfall’, annual value - £38, Thomas Lister, owner and William Dewhurst, occupier”. There are also four cottages at Clough in the occupation of Widow Hargreaves, Nicholas Whithorn, Widow Shackleton and John Carter. With a house, two barns, kitchen and outbuildings the total annual value is given as £71-5s-0d.

Crompton’s 1811 Spindle Enquiry gives ‘Clough factory in Colding’ with ten mules with 2400 mule spindles – this shows that this mill had quite a large capacity for cotton spinning.

The 1851 Census returns show John Wilcock of Rodmer Clough, manufacturer, employing 20 cotton weavers. His daughter, aged 17 and his sons 16 and 14, are all listed as power loom weavers.  

The estate included a farmhouse and barns as well as six cottages. In 1851 there were 56 people living at Rodmer Clough.
The Halifax Courier on May 17th 1873 advertised the auction of a Cotton mill called Rodmer Clough Mill, Stansfield “with the warehouse, office, waterwheel and reservoirs in the occupation of Messrs Wilcock, Freehold. Water wheel quite new, 36’ diameter with buckets 3’4’’ wide and abundant water.”

This mill was sold to William Barker, dyer and finisher, of Wood Top Erringden for £2,225. It was still occupied by Wilcock Bros. in 1881, but was described as dilapidated by 1888.

Edge Mill

A document of 1614 shows that there was a corn mill at Edge, so this was a very old site. The mill would have obtained its major water supply from Colden Water.

In 1802 Henry Sutcliffe of Newhouse at Edge in Heptonstall was described as a cotton spinner, and in 1807 he paid 9d for a factory at Edge in the Heptonstall Church Lay assessment.

In 1813 both Edge mill and the New House estate were sold to a James Sutcliffe of Edge, cotton spinner. (It is not clear if there was a family connection between James and Henry Sutcliffe – further research will hopefully provide the answer.)

This indenture, dated 3rd May 1813, shows that two waterwheels were being used here in the early 19th century and that a new dam was being made at Great Clough above New Edge.  The water came from a stream rising at Wham and diverted into this dam and two smaller dams just behind Edge Mill.

“All that newly erected mill or factory called Edge Mill situate at Edge in Heptonstall…. with two water wheels and heavy going gear ... also several closes, fields and parcels of land ... that is to say, the Mill Field, the Bridge Field, the Middle Hey the small Hey ... the south easterly part of the Bent Close as now divided and the dam in the Great Clough Hey as now staked out, containing by estimation ten days work and a half or thereabouts according to the measure there used.”

The estate was sold to Amos Ingham of Colden and as the water courses ran through the New House estate, the lease particularly mentions “all the water which runs and flows to the said mill through two closes called the long Hey and the Brink” and stating that James Sutcliffe had the right of entering these fields to keep the watercourses in good repair, making satisfaction for any damage that done. The deeds, evidence and writings were placed in the possession of Amos Ingham who was to produce and show them unless prevented by fire or other inevitable accident. 

A letter written in 1923 by an Emily Sutcliffe refers to Edge Mill, which says that Thomas Sutcliffe, her grandfather, started the business at Edge mill in 1808.  He was born at Great House, Colden, but was living at Field Head in 1808. A Thomas Sutcliffe is mentioned in the indenture of 1813 (see above), so was he working in partnership with the Henry and James Sutcliffe?

Emily also says that she has an old pocket book of her grandfathers, dating from 1810, which contains details of his dealings as a manufacturer at Edge Mill with a number of firms in Manchester, but this pocket book has not yet been traced.
By 1830 Edge Mill had been converted into cottages.
A minute Book from Slack Baptist Chapel records that there were growing numbers attending, many of whom were handloom weavers.  In 1833 a William Sutcliffe of Edge Mill was ordained deacon at Slack Baptist Chapel and in 1835 a Sunday school was started in a room at Edge Mill.

In February 1838 the minute book recorded that “we disapprove of political meetings being held in our School room at Edge”.

By 1851 this site had become known as Salt Pie. There are various stories about the name – that it is because of its shape, which is the same as the “Salt pie”, a box of salt which was kept by the stove. Another explanation, by Titus Thornber from his book “Taking the Car for a Walk: Walking in the South Pennines” is that it is where the salt for the district was stored, having been brought by packhorse over the Pennines from Cheshire.


Noah Dale

Noah Dale dam was built by James King, the owner of Mytholm Mill, and Gamaliel Sutcliffe, owner of the Lumb Mills, probably in about 1806.

In 1825 Gamaliel Sutcliffe wrote a letter in which he says that some of the mills have used coal for steam but that this will soon come to an end because 'Nodale' dam was being enlarged at the cost of £200-300.

In 1935 there was a report that the dam had been leaking, and when inspected the following year it was stated that the dam was empty. The capacity of the dam was estimated to be 8-10 million gallons with a gathering ground of 300 acres.

The Noah Dale area was quite well populated at this time.  Many of these people combined handloom weaving with farming. In 1830 it was proposed to have a Sunday school in ‘Nodale’ and about 67 children were expected to attend. 

Land Mill
Land Mill with dwelling house attached
Photo: The Jack Uttley Photo Library

Land Mill
Land Mill
Photo: The Jack Uttley Photo Library











Rodmer Clough Mill
Rodmer Clough Mill partly demolished
Photo: The Jack Uttley Photo Library

wheel pit
Wheel pit at Rodmer Clough Mill

Photo: Jim Strom

Rodmer Clough Reservoir

Reservoir at Rodmer Clough Mill

Photo: The Jack Uttley Photo Library



Alice Long
Alice Longstaff at Salt Pie, site of Edge Mill
Photo: Alice Longstaff Gallery Collection

Edge DAmb
One of the dams behind Edge Mill
Photo: Polly Webber














Inside noah
Inside Noah Dale Dam showing the sloping embankment
Photo: Jim Strom

noah dale
Noah Dale Dam showing the breach
Photo: John Illingworth

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