Sunday 2 May 2021

Victoria Mill - The Last Working Mill in Turton

An extract from People and Places of Turton, part 4, pages 57-59.

The Haworth family sold Victoria Mill (the first documented use of the name) on 9th March 1902 to John and Thomas Brooks, co-partners in the towel manufacturing business of Brooks Bros who were at the time of purchase already established at Victoria Mill. Brooks Bros had also been operating as towel manufacturers since 1891 at Crown Mill, Hawkshaw, Tottington based originally on the site of Kenyon’s Farm.

John & Sarah Alice Brooks outside their Victoria Mill cottage c1910

The two brothers were sons of Edward Brooks deceased; Thomas had no children and died a widower at Kenyon’s Farm, Hawkshaw on 26th January 1932. John, born in 1869, married Sarah Alice Chadwick (b 1874) of 15 Prospect Hill, Turton on November 16th 1904 and they continued to live at Victoria Cottage, John’s home next to Victoria Mill.

By the time of this latest sale of Victoria Mill there were three cottages known as Nos 1, 2 & 3 Victoria Mill, Turton. There was also a single storey building built in the yard on the southerly end of the mill opposite the level-crossing gates.

Thomas Brooks died on 26th June 1932 at his home at Kenyon’s Farm, Hawkshaw. He left legacies to his late wife’s nieces, in particular his mother’s ‘old oak couch’ and his ‘grandfathers clock’. His interest and assets in Brooks Bros he left to brother John.

A Vesting Assent document of 26th June 1933 gave to John Brooks, a retired towel manufacturer, ‘the stone factory known as Victoria Mill, Turton in the occupation of the Turton Towel Co’. The single storey brick built shed adjoining Victoria Mill was in the occupation of ‘The Lancashire Thread Co Ltd’.

 John Brooks died 6th August 1935 leaving the cotton mill or factory called Victoria Mill to his wife Sarah Alice Brooks who died on 15th November 1938 leaving the property to her daughter Alice who on 7th June, 1943 conveyed Victoria Mill to Henri James Cochrane and Thomas Nightingale described as shipping merchants of Manchester. At this time Victoria Mill was described as with engine house, chimney, winding shed and three cottages. The mill was still in the occupation of the Turton Towel Co Ltd while the single storey brick building was occupied by Rigby, Taylor and Co Ltd who were at this time a dry-salting business.

On 28th November 1949, the mill was conveyed to Hawkshaw Properties Ltd (possibly named after the Brooks’ Crown Mill of Hawkshaw). Turton Towel Co Ltd still had the lease of Victoria Mill until 23rd December 1954 when they surrendered the outstanding balance of their lease. 

Victoria Mill was then bought by a subsidiary company of Great Universal Stores Ltd and for the next decade the mill was occupied in the making-up of material into saleable goods (eg net curtains, etc) for mail order service direct to customers of Great Universal Stores.

Turton Station Yard & Victoria Mill 1950