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A Geographical Study of the Diggle Valley ~ Industry

Section 4. Industry

At the end of the eighteenth century, under the stimulus of the Lancashire inventions for carding and spinning cotton, all the fulling mills expanded into 'scribbling' mills where wool was both carded and fulled. The organisation of woollen manufacture was unique among the textile industries in that the first and end processes were carried on it the valley mills and the middle process – spinning (although a weaver or small clothier as a rule put out his spinning to be in cottages) and weaving done by domestic craftsmen among the rural population. Many additional 'scribbling' mills were build wherever water power was to be had but this industry was backward in that it was some time before woollen spinning gravitated in the valleys, while there was already some vertically organised mills along the streams. At the same time a parallel adjustment was taking place in the manufacturing side of the woollen industry located in the older upland settlements. Now the landowning merchants who controlled the trade had developed a stronger interest in manufacturing side of the woollen industry and were putting jennies and looms in their warehouses and ceasing 'putting our' the weaving to be down by cottage workers. Thus the manufacturers' mills when weaving become mechanised were built in or near to the upland hamlets or villages where their weavers lived or where their own lands often were, whereas the spinning mills grew out of the old fulling and later 'scribbling' mills and were consequently down by the streams. A typical example is Deanhead.

Map13: Old mill sites in the valley.

Map13: Old mill sites in the valley.
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At the turn of the nineteenth century, the Rhodes family moved to a new large purpose built loomhouse at Deanhead – see photograph 23 and 24.

Photo23: Loomhouse at Deanhead.

Photo23: Loomhouse at Deanhead.
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Photo24: The Rhodes family's Loomhouse.

Photo24: The Rhodes family's Loomhouse.
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Deanhead, the view from the south. The wing on the left is a former warehouse. Behind is a barn and a byre. The taking-in door is at the first floor level in the west gable near to the rising ground and the loomshop was well lit by a series of windows in all the walls. A blocked tow light window in each gable suggests a former loft. The staircase rises alongside the central wall through the first two floors and so enters the loomshop in the centre of the vase open space.

Photo 25 shows the interior of the loomshop at Deanhead in 1910 when the contents were acquired by Halifax Corporation. They are now to be seen in the Piece Hall Museum, Halifax.

Photo25: Interior of the loomshop at Deanhead.

Photo25: Interior of the loomshop at Deanhead.
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Photo 26 shows Deanhead with Oakdene Cottage just behind. In the foreground is the former dye-house.

Photo26: Deanhead with Oakdene Cottage just behind.

Photo26: Deanhead with Oakdene Cottage just behind.
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Photo 27 is of Oakdene Cottage, Deanhead. Note the inserted five-length window on the first floor. The central light is wider than it's companions.

Photo27: Oakdene Cottage, Deanhead.

Photo27: Oakdene Cottage, Deanhead.
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Photo28: Oakdene Cottage showing the queen-post truss in the loomshop replacing the former party wall.

Photo28: Oakdene Cottage showing the queen-post truss in the loomshop replacing the former party wall.
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The water wheel supplied the motive power for the scribbling and spinning mills and the mills were built wherever there was a 'head' of water. Where the gradient of the stream was not sufficient to provide enough power to turn the wheel small reservoirs were constructed. In the smaller tributary valleys such as Thorns Clough, these reservoirs were often essential in order to counter-act the shrinkage of the streams in summer and strings of these mills ponds can be seen – see photo 29.

Photo 29 shows Acker Reservoir. This reservoir provided the water for two mills at Warrock Hill Foot.

Photo29: Acker Reservoir.

Photo29: Acker Reservoir.
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Photo 30 shows Hey Wood Reservoir, providing the water for Yew Tree and Red Lane Farm.

Photo30: Hey Wood Reservoir.

Photo30: Hey Wood Reservoir.
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Red Lane Farm off Carr Lane is a solid well-built loomhouse built at the beginning of the nineteenth century. A near central gable entrance leads into the house with the parlour beyond, both rooms being heated. From the house there is access to a long narrow room to the north which is unequally divided into two. The first room has a two light window in the gable wall. At the other end of the room is a staircase rising along the north wall turning to give access into the loomshop. A small window in the north wall gives some light to the pantry under the stairs. Beyond this room which may have been a kitchen or dairy is a small square windowless room. This may have been a story room or larder. The loomshop occupies the whole upper floor. It is well lit with a south window of eight lights, two windows of two lights each on the north wall, two, two light windows in the west gable and one two light window in the wast wall, a taking-in door is in the same gable and leads directly into the loomshop. In each gable are two one light loft lights but there are no longer any trace of the lofts. The roof is spanned by two queen-post trusses with three purlins per inch. The trusses and purlins are relatively light in scantling and all the timbers are cut by machine which suggests an early nineteenth century date for the construction of the building.

Diagram20: A plan of the ground and upper floor of the Red Lane Farm, Carr Lane.

Diagram20: A plan of the ground and upper floor of the Red Lane Farm, Carr Lane.
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Photo 31 shows Red Lane Farm, Carr Lane. A double-pile loomhouse with a gable entrance.

Photo31: Red Lane Farm, Carr Lane.

Photo31: Red Lane Farm, Carr Lane.
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Photo 32 show part of a queen-post roof truss at Red Lane Farm. Note the smaller scantling of the timbers.

Photo32: Part of a queen-post roof truss at Red Lane Farm.

Photo32: Part of a queen-post roof truss at Red Lane Farm.
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Yew Tree Mill in Thorns Clough built in 1793 by John Wood was probably for woollen scribbling though in 1818 James Wood of Yew Tree was described as a cotton spinner and woollen manufacture. The Wood family continued until the 1830's at least but in 1846 Hugh Shaw of Manchester a cotton spinner became its owner. The purpose for which the mill was used during this period however, remains rather vague though the first edition of the large scale Ordnance Survey map of late 1840's does show it as a cotton mill.

Photo33: Yew Tree.

Photo33: Yew Tree.
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The two mills at Warrock Hill Foot originated as woollen scribbling mills in 1780 in the occupation of the Rhodes family, (Alan Rhodes still uses the land for grazing sheep but it is rented). The 1848 Ordnance Survey map, however, shows the higher mill as a bleach works, the 1851 census returns listing Thomas Kershaw a cotton bleacher as living at Warrock Hill Foot. Slater's 1858 and 1861 Directories include references to W.I. Redfern, cotton spinners and bleachers of Warrock Clough Mill but after this the building, in a most inaccessible, cramped location appears to have fallen into disuse. The Diggle Water Wheel was originally built for the mill at Warrock Hill Foot but the owners of the Acker reservoir refused the mill water, the wheel was dismantled without ever being used and erected at Ellis Mill in Diggle. See diagram 21.

Diagram21: Newspaper clipping about the Diggle Water Wheel.

Diagram21: Newspaper clipping about the Diggle Water Wheel.
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Photo34: The mill ruins at Warrock Hill Foot.

Photo34: The mill ruins at Warrock Hill Foot.
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Apart from textiles the only other major industry was quarrying. Quarries were very common where grit outcrops occurred. Expansion of villages led to a demand for building stone and these quarries flourished, an example is Ladcastle Quarry – see geology chapter. There were no quarries sited in Thorns Clough. Between 1875-1880, Kinderscout Grit was being used extensively for the construction of dams for the reservoirs and also for field walls and roads, much of this is in evidence in Thorns Clough – see photograph. By the early twentieth century the high cost of quarrying, the improving facility of transport and other factors led to an increase use of brick for building, artificial stone for paving and stone brought from other areas for road making. As a consequence, most of the small quarries which had supplied stone for their immediate neighbourhood had closed down.

Photo35: Illustration of the extensive usage of the stone within the valley.

Photo35: Illustration of the extensive usage of the stone within the valley.
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