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Travis Mill (Manchester)

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in Cheetham, Manchester.

Also known as Travis Isle Mill.

1828 Advertisement: 'TRAVIS ISLE ESTATE, MILL, &c. TO SOLD BY AUCTION, By Messrs. T. WINSTANLEY and SON, at the Star Inn, in Manchester, on Monday the 12th of .May, 1828, at five o'clock the afternoon, subject to such conditions as will then be produced.

'Lot 1: The whole of the Valuable ESTATE, called Travis Isle, situate in Cheetham, in the parish of Manchester, about a mile from the Manchester Exchange, comprising an excellent family dwelling-house, with large gardens and pleasure grounds, now in the occupation of Mr. Richard Collins.—Another good dwelling house with garden, lately occupied by Miss Hatfield. A compact Water Corn Mill, Oil Mill, and Logwood Mill, called Travis Mill, with four pairs of stones for flour, and one pair for oil, turned by two water wheels, amply supplied with water from the river Irk, by a dam with sluice, &c Useful outbuildings, consisting of oil house, stable, barn, shippon, piggery, hay and corn, lofts, coach house, cart shed, joiner's shop, large yard, &c, together with several closes of valuable land, the whole being surrounded by the river and sluice. Also a range of convenient Dyehouses, with reservoirs, a small steam engine, a good dwelling-house, cottage, and other buildings, situate near the road, and principally surrounded by the river Irk. In this lot will also be included a piece of land, now used as a garden, and lying on the south side of the river Irk. This lot contains 3 acres, 3 roods, and 18 perches of land, Cheshire measure, and is held under a lease from the Earl of Derby, for three lives, now of the respective ages of 19, 34, and 53, subject to the small yearly rent of £10.....' {other plots and buildings included in the sale}[1]

1855 Advertisement: 'TO CORN MILLERS, BLEACHERS, DYERS, &c. TO BE LET, with immediate possession, the Premises as follows viz —All that CORN MILL (known as Travis Isle Corn Mill), situate at Collyhurst, Manchester, together with the Dwelling Houses, Out-Buildings, and about two Cheshire Acres of Land, lately in the occupation of Mr. Joseph Travis. The Mill is supplied with an excellent water wheel, superior shafting and machinery, and six pairs of the best French stones. Also, all those Premises at Collyhurst aforesaid, adjoining the River Irk, recently in the occupation Messrs. Thorp and Statham. This property is well calculated for bleaching or dyeing purposes, having an abundant supply of spring water. Also, all those premises at Collyhurst aforesaid, now occupied as dyeworks by Mr. Bernard Brine, and about seven Cheshire acres of Land contiguous to the above, lately in the tenancy the said B. Brine. —Applications to be made to THOMAS STATTER, Esq., Land Agent, Bury, Lancashire; or at 8, Princess-street, Manchester, on Tuesdays, from eleven to three o'clock. Messrs. Thorp and Statham, Collyhurst, will show the premises.' [2]. It is interesting to note that the mill might still be considered for use as a corn mill, given that the River Irk was to become notoriously badly polluted.

1868 John Alfred Wallworth, gum and starch manufacturer, Travis Isle Mill, listed as bankrupt [3]


The 'Isle' part of the name becomes apparent by reference to William Green's map of Manchester and Salford (1787 - 1797). This shows that the sinuous River Irk had divided to follow two courses, the smaller of which served as a mill leat. This leat has no straight lines, and its course might be natural, but the flow was encouraged by the construction of a weir. The two water courses produced an 'island' about 1/4 mile long, and about 80 ft across at its widest point, reached by a road bridge and a footbridge. A mill building straddles the leat, with two channels emerging from it, consistent with the two water wheels referred to above.

Travis Isle House was occupied by Thomas James Hatfield in 1797.

A point of interest on Green's map, although not directly relevant here, is that this was still a predominantly rural area on the outskirts of Manchester and Salford, but some of the individual fields have speculative streets marked on. The field immediately south of Travis Isle gives advanced warning of the changes to come, since rows of houses had been built on the lines of the streets. The area was called Newtown, and just three of the streets had been named: Portland Street (now Dantzic Street), Water Street, and Bilsborough Street.

The 1891 O.S. map shows marked changes. Travis Isle Mill and Travis Isle House are still shown, but the upstream half of the leat has disappeared. Perhaps it had been culverted, because a 'sluice' is marked on the map alongside the upstream weir. The area was now overlooked by a railway system, and the surviving part of the leat was in the shadow of a dye works and two gasometers. Bilsborough Street had become Bilbury Street.

Manchester City Archive photographs give a good impression of the ambience of the area in the 19th and 20th centuries.[4] [5]. Fortunately the intolerable stench of the River Irk has gone forever.

Now, trees have returned to the former 'island', but they do little to relieve the uninviting character of the area.

For information on two other mills using the River Irk or its tributaries in the 18th century, see James Bateman and Richard Walker (of Manchester).

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 26th April 1828
  2. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 1 September 1855
  3. Liverpool Mercury, 9th September 1868
  4. [1]Manchester City Council Archive photograph: Weir at upstream end of Travis Isle, 1925. Collyhurst Road on right
  5. [2]Manchester City Council Archive photograph: Looking from Travis Isle across the Irk to Water Street, 1897