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British Industrial History

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Ancoats Mill

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Pollard Street, Ancoats, Manchester

Sometimes referred to as Ancoats Mills.

1818 ' Whitehall, September 15, 1818. WHEREAS it hath been humbly represented unto his Royal Highness the Prince Regent, that on Wednesday the 2d instant, VIOLENT and RIOTOUS ATTACKS were made upon the MILL of Messrs. Gray and called Ancoats Mill, Pollard-street, Manchester; and that there is reason to believe the same had been preconcerted, and was the result of wicked determination to destroy the Property of the said Messrs Gray and Co. His Royal Highness, for the better apprehending and bringing to Justice the Persons concerned in planning and advising the Outrages above-mentioned is hereby pleased, in the name and on the behalf his Majesty, to promise his Majesty's most gracious PARDON to any Person or Persons who shall give Evidence against the planners and advisers of the said Riotous Attacks, in order that they may be brought to Justice. SIDMOUTH. And as an encouragement, a Reward of 200 GUINEAS is hereby offered by the Constables of Manchester, to any Person or Persons who shall give evidence against the Planners and Advisers of the said riotous Attacks, in order that they may be brought to justice, which Reward will be paid on conviction of the parties accused.' [1]

1847 'Fall of Part of a Mill and Loss of Life. An accident of a very serious character happened on Monday morning, at the mill of Messrs. J. and J. L. Gray, cotton spinners and lace thread manufacturers, in Pollard-street, Great Ancoats-street. In 1844, an addition was made to the old mill by the erection of a shed, about 40 feet in length by 32 feet width. The building was erected by Mr. Tomlinson, of Salford, Messrs. Butterworth and Whittaker, of Cross-street, being the architects, and it was not only made fire-proof, but, as was supposed, even stronger than there was any necessity for. The ground floor was used as a boiler-house. Over this there was a room in which were placed twelve new jack frames. The floor of this apartment was supported by strong iron beams, 32 feet in length, and weighing, on the average, 66 cwt. each. The beams had been tested at Mr. Galloway's Knott Mill Iron Works, and, in the opinion of Mr. Whittaker, were sufficiently strong to support a building four stories in height. All the beams were well trussed, but none of them rested on pillars, owing to the fact that there was not enough of room between the boilers for a wall. The roof of the jack frame room, like that of the boiler-house, was arched with brick, and strong iron beams ran across, in order to support a cistern, which went over the whole building. The depth of water in this cistern never exceeded seventeen inches, and when the accident occurred it was not more than six inches. At twenty minutes past ten o'clock on Monday morning, the fireman was in the boiler-house, putting his dinner to cook, when he was alarmed by a sudden crash, and promptly ran through a hole leading into the older part of the mill. In a moment after, about one-half the building fell; and a mass of bricks and machinery, together with a large volume of water, filled the cellar. At the time, there were six females at work in the frame room, (usually there are nine), and three of the unfortunate creatures were buried under the ruins. The remaining three, filled with consternation, ran to the windows, and called out for help; and a ladder having been procured, they got out of the apparently tumbling building unhurt. Prompt and active exertions were made to rescue the buried women, and this was soon accomplished; but unfortunately, one of them was dead. The name of this female was Elizabeth Woodward; she was a married with three children, but had been deserted by her husband, who, it is said, is living in Yorkshire with another woman. She was always exceedingly clean and tidy, and was as good a work woman as any in the mill. The other two females, escaped with only trifling injuries, it is supposed, from the machinery having so fallen as to protect them. The opinion of the surgeon who was called in was, that Woodward had died of suffocation. The inner half of the building is a mass of ruins, and the six jack frames which stood therein are broken into pieces. The damage, as well as can be now estimated, will amount to about £1,000. It is not known to what cause this accident is attributable, nor can it with certainty be said whether it was the lower or upper beam which first gave way. At first it was thought that the weight of water in the cistern might have broken the upper beam ; but this supposition seems now to be nearly abandoned, from the fact that there was at the time scarcely more than one-third of the quantity of water in the cistern that it has contained. Another supposition is that there has been a flaw in the lower and unsupported beam, which has caused it to give way.' [2]

1850 James and John Livesey Gray listed as cotton spinners, doublers and manufacturers. [3]

1875 Death announcement: 'On the 9th inst., at Middleton, aged 62, John Collins, much respected, for 16 years head engineer, Messrs J. and J. L. Gray's, Ancoats Mills.[4]

Sale Notices, 1882

The full text of advertisements is given below, as it gives a good inventory of the type of equipment used in a large Victorian cotton spinning mill.

'On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday Next. Ancoats Mills, Manchester.—To Cotton. Spinners, Doublers, Machine Brokers, and others. —Important and Extensive Sale of Cotton Spinning and Doubling Machinery, comprising over 100,000 Spindles and Preparation Utensils, Stores, and Effects.

'GRUNDY & SON have been favoured with instructions from Messrs. J. and J. L. Gray to SELL BY AUCTION, on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, March 15, 16, and 17, 1882, commencing each day at eleven o'clock in the forenoon, Ancoats Mills, Pollard-street, Manchester, the Whole of The Valuable COTTON SPINNING and DOUBLING MACHINERY and EFFECTS, consisting of cotton opener, by Platt Bros.; single scutcher and lap machine single carding engines, each 33in. On the wire, with 15 self-stripping flats, by and Dobson and Barlow; 11 ditto, with 18 flats, by ditto; one iron ditto, with 42 revolving flats, by Platt Brothers; two double-grinding machines, by ditto; one ditto four-lap doublers, for combing machines by Hetherington ; two ditto, by Crighton ; five ditto, to double six into one, Hetherington; six-head cotton combing machines, Heilman’s patent., by Hetherington; six drawing heads, each with six deliveries; and ditto with eight deliveries; six slubbing frames of 55, 52, 48, and 40 spindles, 9in. lift, soft bobbin ; 23 first and second intermediate frames, 9in. And 7in. lift; 40 jack frames, 5,250 spindles, 4½in. lift, Platt Bros. and Elce and Co.; 14 pair organ hand mules, containing 27,080 spindles, 1¼in. gauge, Platt Bros.; pair ditto decked, containing 31,466 spindles, 1¼in. gauge; eight pairs rim-hand mules, containing 14,004 spindles, 1¼in. gauge, by Platt Bros.; 116 wet doubling frames, containing 31,716 spindles, 2in. lift; four double preparing machines, 17 clearing frames, 2,530 spindles, 2½in. lift; five warp winding frames, 728 spindles; three 12 yards warping mills for hand power; eight gassing frames, two 20-hank cop reels, three five and 10lb. bundling presses, cotton hoist, weighing machines, scales, and weights ; Horsfall's grinders, hot water kettle, stone and wood cisterns, driving apparatus for mules and Gallows pulleys, together with full complement of utensils, and quantity of new stores, counters, tables, desks, trucks, hand cart, stone bogie, and other miscellaneous effects —On view Monday and Tuesday next, March 13 and 14, from 10 to 4 o'clock, when catalogues may be had the premises, or earlier application to Messrs. CUNLIFFE, LEAF & CO., solicitors, 56, Brown-street; or the Auctioneers, 54, John Dalton-street, Albert-square, Manchester.

'Ancoats Mills, Manchester. To Engineers, Millwrights, Brokers, and others. GRUNDY & SON respectfully announce the receipt of instructions from Messrs. J. and J. L. Gray to SELL BY AUCTION, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, March 22, 23, and 24, 1882, commencing at eleven o'clock in the forenoon each day, the Ancoats Mills, Pollard-street, Manchester, the Whole of the Valuable STEAM POWER, MILLWRIGHTS' WORK, MECHANICS' TOOLS, Stores, and Effects, comprising two cylindrical steam boilers, each 30ft. long, 7ft. diameter, with two 2ft. 9in. flues, Low Moor furnaces, and four Galloway tubes in each; steam and water mountings, by Goodfellow, 1873; three ditto ditto, single rivetted, by B. Hick and Son; wrought iron superheater, 9ft. high, 4ft. diameter, by Goodfellow ; two Green's patent fuel economisers, each with 100 pipes; horizontal double-acting steam pump, with 4in. ram, Walker; vertical single-acting ditto, with 4in. ram, 6in. stroke , governors, flywheel, and pulleys, by Leigh; a pair of condensing beam steam engines, cylinders 35in. diameter, 6ft. stroke, with valves, spur flywheel, and fittings, by B. Hick and Son ; condensing ditto, cylinder 34in. diameter, 7ft. stroke, with valves, spur flywheel, and fittings, by Boulton and Watt; pair of excellent high pressure horizontal steam engines, cylinders 15in. diameter, 30in. stroke, turned flywheel, spur ditto, and cast iron beds, by Goodfellow, ashlar foundations for engines; a quantity of cast shafting, upwards of 4,000 ft. of wrought, turned, and polished ditto, from 8in. to 13in., with couplings, wheels, turned pulleys, hangers and pedestals, brasses, and fixings, &c.; upwards of 7,000 ft. cast iron steam and water piping, from 12in. to 2in. diameter ; 2,100 ft. of wrought iron ditto, from 2in. to ½in., with fittings: three 300-light and one 150-light wet gas meters, and piping for 1,500 lights; water meter, machine hoist for eight stoves, yard clock, by Armstrong; factory bell, &c.; the contents of well-fitted mechanics' shop and smithy, including double-geared slide and screw-cutting gap lathe, with 12½ in. centres, on 25ft. iron bed, by Kershaw ; double geared ditto, with 8in. centres, on 11ft. iron bed, by Collier: single speed boring and turning lathes, two vertical drilling machines, grindstones, glazers, vices and benches, drilling and screwing tackle, new steel and iron, 12 and six tons Haley's screw jacks, blocks and ropes, smith's hearth and tools, four bobbin lathes, circular saw, pulleys, brass tubing and wire, steel spindles, old brass and lead, fire hose, new timber, two cask iron oil tanks, circular tin oil cisterns, oil and tallow, oil pumps, joiners' benches and cramps, new steam and gas-fittings, files and steel, Irish moss, contents of paint shop, cast beams and gutters, round sycamore and ash timber, 13.60 hank bobbin reels, Hopkinson's indicator, cast piping, new bar iron, usable wrought iron, wrought and cast scrap, crabs, and other miscellaneous effects.—May be viewed on Mondays and Tuesdays, March 13th and 14th, and 20th and 21st, from 10 to four o'clock, when catalogues, may be had on the premises, earlier application to Messrs. CUNLIFFE, LEAF, & CO., solicitors, 56, Brown-street; or the Auctioneers, 54, John Dalton-street, Albert-square, Manchester.' [5]


The 1849 O.S. map[6] shows Ancoats Mill, directly across Pollard Street from the Soho Iron Works of Peel, Williams and Peel. The buildings took up about one third of a square plot of land surrounded on three sides by a branch of the Rochdale Canal. The progressive devlopment of the mill is indicated by the presence of three separate engine houses and boiler houses. Referring to the above sale listing, the date order of installations was probably Boulton and Watt, followed by Hick, followed by Goodfellow.

The site, and the adjacent site then occupied by the Soho Chemical Works and the 'Roman Cement Mill', were taken over as the Vulcan Works of John Hetherington and Sons. Adshead's 1851 Maps of Manchester, Map 16, shows the owner of the chemical works as Swindells and Williams. See John Swindells and Co.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Manchester Mercury, 22nd September 1818
  2. Manchester Times, Friday 19th March 1847
  3. Slater's Directory of Manchester & Salford, 1850
  4. Manchester Times, 18th December 1875
  5. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 11th March 1882
  6. 'The Godfrey Edition Old Ordnance Survey Maps' Manchester Sheet 30, Ancoats 1849, originally drawn at 36" to 1 mile [1]