Bob's Mellor Mill Diary

Bob (Robert Humphrey-Taylor) is leading the excavations at Mellor Mill.
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Bob's Mill Diary - June 21, 2012

John Glithero had written: I have now had a better look at the 2009 report and here are some comments. 3.2    Worrall's Trade Directories for 1887 and 1891 show that the mill was run by John Clayton & Co Limited. I have looked at the National Archives (Kew) website ( and found that a John Clayton & Co Limited was incorporated in 1875 and that 2 Board of Trade files exist. These are BT/31/2170/100118 and BT34/159/10118. I have looked at BT files for many companies and found a wealth of information.

However, I have no appetite for going to Kew at the moment. Kew are able send photocopies but it might work out expensive.

I have looked at The London Gazette on line (just Google London Gazette) and found that in 1883 the company reduced its share capital from £40,000 to £24,000 (solicitor Edward Kyander of Dukinfield) and again in 1889 to £8,000 (Solicitor J H Garforth of Ashton). The company was wound up in 1895, S W Swire being the Chairman. I do not know the reason for reducing the capital and wonder if it was the same company.

4.1    I have overlaid the plans of the trenches (Figures 10, 11 and 12) onto the 1898 1:2,500 OS map, but the fit is not very good at the gap between the mill and the brick extension to the east. I think that this is because I am magnifying the map well beyond its limit of accuracy and the mill is coming out a little too wide. I cannot see any dimension connecting Trench 1 to Trench 2.

4.2.3    I do not recognise the foundation stones in Area C as engine beds. They might have been for some piece of cotton processing machinery or possibly for a hoist. We do know a hoist was fitted sometime between 1812 and 1832, and it might well have been replaced later.

Bob responded: Thank you for all that research.  I feel I may have to go and stay with one of my nieces who lives in Kew just around the corner from the National Archives.

Pity about the map.  We really could do with something drawn to a much larger scale.  There is a glimmer of hope that the Deeds for the Oldknow Estate may well reside in the records at Worsley [Willersley- jh] Hall.  It is quite likely that they will contain very detailed maps and plans.  John and Ann are pursuing that lead.

Bob's Mill Diary - June 7, 2012

Some recent images and text from the Mellor Mill project:

After much discussion, between Bob H-T and John Riley, it was worked out that the centre projection of the mill, at ground level is in fact a stable for visitors.  John has produced a 3D drawing of the likely layout of the wheel pit, cellars and stable.  Visitors to the mill would have arrived either on horseback or by horse drawn carriage.  On arriving at the steps leading to the main entrance their transport would have been collected from them.  Their horse, taken into the visitors stable, would have been groomed, fed and watered ready for the visitor leaving on their return journey.

3D Drawing

John Riley's 3D drawing of the likely layout of the wheel pit, cellars and stable.

3D Drawing

Bob's Mill Diary - June 6, 2012

John Riley had e-mailed: Please see attached -- even a rough comparison indicates the similar sizes of all three wheel enclosures -- indicated in red on attached. The blue area is the location of the work shop cellar which extends below the level of the access road -- which I showed Bob on Saturday.

John Glithero commented: Thanks for your various emails. Unfortunately last week was hectic and I was not able to work on the measurements of the wheel pit that my friend and I took. I am off to a conference tomorrow and so it will be a while till I can get back to it. I would be grateful for John Riley's attachment with the red wheel pits and blue workshop cellar as below, and I would also be grateful for the relevant parts of the 2009 report. Corn mills usually did not require much power. I still stick with my guess as in my email of 8 May, i. e., Wellington 60hp, Waterloo 40hp,
south wheel 20 hp.

John Smeaton carried out a series of experiments on various types of wheel and he showed that the breast wheel was the most efficient. This knowledge was well diffused by the 1790s. However, if the corn mill was built before the cotton mill, the river could supply much more power than a corn mill would need and efficiency was of little importance. The south wheel might therefore have been undershot. If the corn mill was later than the cotton mill, efficiency was a consideration as the Wellington wheel would be using most of the available water and the wheel would be breast shot. Some form of bypass channel would have been needed to run the Waterloo wheel when the Wellington wheel was not working and this bypass channel must have come from the corn mill.

John Hearle added: If the corn mill was earlier, where did its water come from? It's not a sensible place to build a mill until Oldknow had made the millpond.

Bob responded: Here is what I think is a possible scenario for the relationship between Mellor Mill and the Corn Mill.

  1. The location is on the flood plain of the river Goyt - good flat, fertile ground and source of water
  2. Surrounding farmsteads growing corn - need for it to be ground to flour for sale, barter or personal use
  3. Corn Mill is established and a head race (may have been from the stream down from Linnet Clough or the River Goyt) constructed for an undershot water wheel - basically not much more than a channel which then discharged via its tail race back to the river.  This would be a fairly crude way of using the potential of the river but as John G points out efficiency would not be that important so long as there was sufficient power to drive the mill wheel.  As John R points out the style of the corn mill is totally different from the very grand and formal architecture of Mellor Mill - why would you build something so different (even ugly by comparison) and divorced from the main building if it was intended to be another arm of the business to produce flour for selling to weavers to make size?
  4. I am not aware of any detail of what was on the ground (other than well established farmsteads) as Oldknow bought up and leased land to make up the estate - I am not suggesting the corn mill had any great age when Oldknow established the estate - it could have been built just before he made his purchase - anybody's guess
  5. Oldknow has decided on the optimum location for his mill and, conveniently it is next to the existing corn mill which is a substantial building with potential use for his industrial complex - why knock it down?
  6. The mill is built but to maintain its grand design did not attach to the corn mill
  7. As John R points out the, post Mellor Mill build, maps show a very large (almost the size of the other two) wheel house not what would be expected for a fairly low powered corn mill
  8. The water wheel for the corn mill is converted to either overshot (unlikely) or breast shot and there is an increased power available for the corn mill - or could some of that power have been transmitted back into the Mellor mill??  There seems to be some evidence that the corn mill wheel was almost the size of the Wellington and the Waterloo (John R measurements of the depth of the tail race). Why would that be if it was only a simple wheel to drive the corn mill?
  9. I think that John R has got a very valid point when it comes to the shape of the corn mill.  The "shot off" corner seem to be important to allow road access to the apprentice house and the farm.  I agree this is a likely alteration to make way for the roadway. Surely the original (if it pre-dates the Mellor Mill) corn mill would have been rectangular?
  10. There is the canal route survey which doesn't give us much detail of the mill - it just appears as a block.
  11. The North mill pond (from the cartographical evidence) was the only one showing as supplying the corn mill and Mellor Mill on the canal survey - so it maybe the South mill pond was a later addition to ensure better supplies of water as demand increased.

I am enjoying this!!  So has anybody any evidence to shoot me, and others, down in flames?  All comments welcome.

Bob's Mill Diary - May 31, 2012, to John Riley

John Riley had e-mailed: There was no road from Bottom's Hall to Marple Bridge until after 1867. [Burdett's 1791 map shows a road that appears to cross the site of the mill – jh]  Any Mill on the site was accessed via a dead end road from the Hall. Studying the photo of the 'Corn Mill ' and allowing for foreshortening the south elevation is clearly not symmetrical this fact and that of the location of the chimney on plan, which  is extremely unusual, suggests the building had been modified at one end. Striking a line parallel with the eastern gable from the chimney/ridge down and an extension of the eaves gives a notional corner for the Mill , which would make  a symmetrical elevation. Was this the elevation before an alteration to accommodate the new road between the Bridge, the Mill yard and Bottom's Hall?

I also note that there is a doorway, in the centre of that elevation, which has been partly built up in stone to leave a window.  To access that doorway would require a flight of steps - were they removed to make way for the "new" road?

Also I have asked John H. if he would send me an electronic copy of the 2009 Salford report since we seem to need to dip into it so often as these questions arise. Richard, who is now excavating the Waterloo to Mellor Mill tunnel entrance will be most interested to read the Derbyshire cavers report which is comprehensive in their explorations of various tunnels.  The infill he has encountered is clearly one of the manhole access points and maybe within the western promontory of the building.  I am down on site tomorrow to clear spoil heaps so that we can make progress this weekend.  Whilst I have a digger at my disposal (only tomorrow - Friday) is there anywhere you would like me to investigate?

Are you going to pop down this weekend?

Bob's Mill Diary - May 28, 2012, to John Glithero

I have been looking at data which place the output of the Wellington wheel at about 50 HP (I thought I had heard 120 HP) and the total from all 3 wheels at 120 HP. Since the Waterloo is smaller than the Wellington - say 35 HP - then that would bring in the corn mill one in at about 35 HP. This falls in nicely with John's (Riley) observations about the size of the corn mill tail race. We also need to ask why the corn mill wheel house was widened so that it later was contiguous with the gable of the mill. Was that a modification to put in a larger wheel? We don't seem to know the date of the corn mill only that it was different in that it was stone built. Could it have pre-dated Mellor mill? Later modified? Post dated the mill? Change of use from flour for bread to flour to be used as size for weavers - it was on the flood plain of the Goyt a great place to grow corn? Enough I'll leave you with that for now. Send me your thoughts please.