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British Industrial History

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Samuel Oldknow

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Samuel Oldknow (1756-1828), cotton manufacturer.

1756 Born at Anderton, Lancashire,

1771 Served an apprenticeship in his uncle's drapery business in Nottingham.

1782 Set up muslin manufacturing business in Anderton

1784 Moved the business to Stockport; bought a house and warehouse on Upper Hillgate where he established a cotton mill for the manufacture of muslin. Installed spinning mules, recently invented by Samuel Crompton, and looms.

Established a sizeable finishing works at Heaton Mersey under the control of his brother, Thomas.

1790 Erected the first steam-powered mill in Stockport, powered by a Boulton and Watt steam engine.

1790 Started to build Mellor Mill, to the south of Marple Bridge, for mule spinning.

There was turndown in the muslin business; added to his failure to achieve the same mastery of technical perfection in fine-cotton spinning, this led to financial problems.

1792 The economic crisis brought this phase of his career to an end, forcing him to sell or let all his works in Stockport and Anderton. He was heavily in debt to Richard Arkwright.

1794 Oldknow sold his mill on Upper Hillgate, Stockport, to William Radcliffe of Mellor.

Having previously begun building a water-powered factory in Mellor, he consolidated his landed estate by further purchases. Oldknow came to dominate both Mellor and Marple, setting up diverse enterprises: limekilns, coal-shafts, building bridges and turnpike roads. He became one of Derbyshire's leading farmers during the Napoleonic wars.

1805 Dissolution of the Partnership between Samuel Oldknow, of Mellor, in the County of Derby, and Richard Arkwright, of Willersley, in the County of Derby, Cotton-Spinners; the said Trade or Business carried on by Samuel Oldknow, on his own separate Account, at Mellor[1]

1824 High Sheriff of Derbyshire

He became the principal promoter for the construction of the Peak Forest Canal and Tramway to supply limestone and coal to a battery of lime kilns that he built in Marple.

1828 Died unmarried in Mellor; buried in Marple.




Samuel Oldknow's house has been saved by the Hillgate Regeneration Scheme and is now listed as a Grade II building. It has now undergone a sensitive restoration by Fairclough Homes and on completion it contained seven apartments.

See Also

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  • Also see [1] Samuel Oldknow
  • Biography of Samuel Oldknow, ODNB

Sources of Information

  1. London Gazette 23 July 1805
  • [2] Samuel Oldknow.