Tuesday 23 March 2021

The Final Stages of Horrobin Mill

Extract from Horrobin Mill by J J Francis, Chapter 6, pages 27-34.

After the death of the last of Thomas Appleton's family, the Trustees of the Estate arranged for an auction of all their properties on October 28 1903, to be held at the Public Sale Rooms, Bowkers Row, Bolton, by Lomax Sons & Mills.

'HORROBIN MILLS - A Valuable Bleaching, Dyeing and Finishing Works with Extensive Water Rights' was offered as a going concern with the goodwill of the business. 

Horrobin Mill 1960
Horrobin Mill looking towards St Annes Turton in 1960
Horrobin Fold is centre left and Lees Cottages at centre right
behind the bleachworks buildings

The bleachworks in Lot 12 included fixtures, fittings and stock in trade etc. at the shop and warehouse at 36 Fountain Street, Manchester. The area covered by the works at Horrobin, including roads, brooks and reservoirs, was 49.4 acres. The plant, machinery and tools were described under their separate shops:- 

Top Croft 

Grey Room - four 54" Donkey Grey Stitching Machines; 57" Singer Sewing Machines and engine. 

Dressing Shop - Singeing Stove with 110" Copper Semi-circular Plate, 4 Stone Steeping Cisterns. 

Bleach Croft - Rope driven 96" Limeing Machine; Three 96" Washing Machines; 45" Souring Machine; 21 Stone Steeping and Souring Cisterns; 5 Brass Centrifugal Pumps; 12" Ram Pump; Brick and Iron Chemicing Cisterns; 16 Low-pressure Boiling Kiers; Wince Shafts; Pot Eyes; Iron joists etc. 

Ash Place - Cast Iron Jacketed Pan; Cast Iron Resin Pan. 

Chemic Place - Cast Iron Chemic Pan, with Agitator; No. 4 Pulsometer Steam Pump. 

Bottom Croft 

Dash Wheel House - Set of Squeezers; 48" Plaiter Down; 48" Harrops Scutcher; Two 78" Dash Wheels; Copper Hot Water Kettle 36" x 21 ". 

Starch Place - 28" Iron Starch Pan; 3 Oak Starch Boiling Tubs; Clay Mixing Mill; Two Starch Friction Mangles; Two Starch Stiffening Mangles. 

Shirting Mangle Place - Set of squeezers and Plaiting Down Apparatus; 4 Bowl Water Mangle, 60" on face and a pair of Engines; 4 Bowl 1st Time Mangle 46" face; 6 Bowl 2nd Time Mangle 46" face; 7 Bowl Jacking Calender 46" face; a Two Storey Power Hoist.

Back Filling Mangle Place - Back Filling Mangle and pair of Engines; 54" Horizontal Drying machine; 19 copper cylinders and Engine.

Upstairs Drying Rooms - 64" Horiz. Drying Machine; 21 copper cylinders and Engine; Five Hand Hooking Frame; 48" Blackman Air Propeller; 96" Horiz. Drying Machine; 11 tinned cylinders and 7" Engine. 

Damping and Stretching Room – 45" 'Conroy' Damping Machine with two cotton Bowls; 60" 'Edmeston' Belt Stretcher; 4 Bowl Rolling Calender 45" on face. 

Making Up Room – 50" Doubling and Measuring Machine; 48" Plaiter Down; 48" and 51" Plaiting and Measuring Machines;  10" Ram Hydraulic Press;   12" Ram Hydraulic Press. 

Dye House — Twelve pairs of 50" Dye Jigs; Pair of Discharging Jigs; 114" wide Mixing Machine; Two Stone Cisterns. 

Block Dyeing Place - Patent Block Dyeing Machine; Stone and Cast Iron Cisterns. 

Drug Room  Berryman's Hot Water Heater with Stone Cistern and Heating Apparatus.

Dye Mangle Place - 3 Bowl 1st time Water Mangle, 49" on face.

Black Mangle Place - 3 Bowl Mangle; 50"  Donkey Sewing Machine, Harrop's portable sewing machine. 

Finishing Department 

Dye Stiffening Mangle Place - 2 Bowl Mangle, 48" on face; 3 Bowl Water Mangle, 48" on face; 2 Bowl Stiffening Mangle 48" on face; Two Storey Batch Hoist; 30" gauge tramway. 

Starch Place - Cast Mixing Mill; 4 Boiling Tubs; Cast Cistern. 

Dye Drying Room - 90" Horiz. Drying Machine with eight 48" Dia. cavity tinned iron cylinders and a pair of 6" Cylinder Engines. 90" Horiz. Drying Machine with 20 Tinned iron and 3 copper cylinders 22" Dia. and a 7" Cylinder Engine; 48" Dia. Blackman Air Propeller.

Pasting Room - 48" Rollering Machine, Two Storey Batch Hoist; Cast Pasting Plate 16 ft 9 in. 

Dye Calender Room - 3 Bowl Friction Calender, 47" face; 3 Bowl Friction Calender 48" face; Two 3 Bowl Friction Calenders each 46" face; 4 Bowl Finishing Calender 46" face; 3 Bowl Breaking Down and Softening Calender 46" face; 3 Bowl 'Tally' Calender 51" face; Conroy Damping Machine with 2 Bowls. 

Tanjib Finishing Department 

(Tanjib was a type of fine muslin) 

Calender Room - 3 Bowl 1st time Water Mangle, 47" face; 4 Bowl Chasing and Finishing Calender, 48" face; 6 Bowl Jacking and Finishing Calender, 46" face. 

Drying Room - Two 60" Drying Machines with two cylinders 9 ft and 4 ft diameter, by Lang Bridge 

Stretching and Making Up  49" Rope Cloth Stretching Machine; 60" Belt Stretching Machine; Seven Hooking Frames; Three Friction Driven Winding- off Frames. 

Pressing and stamping Room - Hydraulic Press; 10" Ram Hydraulic Press; 15" Ram Hydraulic Press, 20" Ram; Set of 3 Hydraulic Pumps, 3 Bowl Chucking Calender 46" face; and a pair of 7" Diagonal Steam Engines.

No 1 and No 2 Beetling Rooms - Four single Beetling Machines, Three Double Beetling Machines, Hand Winding-off Frame. 

Damping and Stretching Room - 60" 'Edmeston' Belt Cloth Stretching Machine; Two 45" 'Conroy' Damping Machines; 45" Rope Cloth Stretching Machine; 45" Splitting and Conroy Machine.

Dye Making-up Room - 8" Ram Hydraulic Press; 44" Doubling and Measuring Machine; 49" Lapping and Rolling Machine; 50" Rolling Machine; 44" Plaiting Down Machine; 45" Plaiting and Measuring Machine; 48" Hand Hooking Machine.

Hanging Room - 70" Pin Stentering Machine, 50' centres by Henderson & Son and Chains and pins by Duncan & Stewart (not erected); Brass Cloth expanders and stretchers throughout the Machines in the Works.

Smithy - Hearth, Bellows, Bench, Two Vices.

Wheelwrights Shop - Three Benches.

Saw Mill - 42" Iron Saw Bench and Engine.

Yard - Mortar Mill and Engine.

Mechanics Shop - 10" Dia. Cyl. Horiz. Steam Engine; 10" Screw Cutting Lathe; 18 ft gap-bed; 19" Screw Cutting Lathe; 8" Sliding and Surfacing Lathe; 12 ft gap-bed 10" Wood Turning Lathe; Vertical Drilling Machine; Small Shaping Machine; Pipe Screwing Machine; Iron Pillar Jib Crane; 16" Ram Bowl Making Press and Pumps; Hand Hydraulic Cake Press.

 [N.B. The term ‘Bowl’ refers to a roller that can be iron, steel, copper faced, solid or hollow for either hot water or steam heating. They can also be made up of discs of cloth or paper for various forms of finishing. They can be quite large, up to 4 ft Dia., and be 3 Bowl etc. indicating the number of ‘Bowls’ high.]

Throughout the Works - Wood stillages, Tables, Racks, Cupboards and Shelving. 

The Stock, New Stores, Loose Plant, Railway Coal Wagons, Utensils, Office Furniture, Safes, Horses, Lurries, Carts, Gear, Hay etc. will have to be taken over by the Purchaser at an agreed valuation. 

The Gas Meter House and Gas Main are connected to a Supply of Gas from the Bolton Corporation Gas Main.

Also included were excellent and well fitted Offices, a Board Room and Three Dwellings (Croftside Cottages). 

The motive power was noted as of about 450 IHP including eight Lancashire steam Boilers, three sets of fuel economisers, eight side by side Horizontal and Beam condensing and high pressure Steam Engines and power hoists etc. with a 60 H.P. Double breasted and a 30 H.P. Single breasted Overshot Waterwheels. 

This list of plant and equipment give a good picture of the whole works and the operational departments.

In the event Lot 12, Horrobin Mills Bleachworks, was withdrawn at the auction and it was not until 16 August 1905 that a sale was concluded. The Trustees finalized the sale to Robert Weatherhead Kenyon of Lancaster, a timber merchant, for £39989 plus £6011 for stock in trade.

Mr. Kenyon's purchase included, as well as the whole of Horrobin Bleachworks, Horrobin Fold Farm and cottages, Lees Cottages and Horrobin House.

The business at Horrobin Mill continued to operate under the name of Thomas Appleton & Co., specialising in the bleaching and dyeing of fine cottons and muslins for the Far Eastern Trade. Fig. 10 shows the final form of the Bleachworks.

Robert Kenyon had two sons who both tragically died at an early age. Herbert died on March 1 1929 aged 51 and Arnold on April 20 1934 in his 45th year.

Mr. Robert Kenyon’s wife Mary Alice had previously died on 10 June 1926 and undoubtedly the early deaths of his two sons must have influenced his desire to discontinue with his bleaching business at Horrobin. With no sons to carry on the business and at the age of 86 years, Robert Kenyon sold Horrobin Mills to the Bleachers Association Ltd. on 14 May 1937 for £24513.

The Bleachers Association also owned bleachworks down stream, of James Hardcastle & Co., including  Bradshaw Hall Works; and Thomas Hardcastle & Co's Firwood Works. Their reasons for the purchase of Horrobin would have been two-fold, first and foremost to secure the water rights and particularly the Horrobin share of the Wayoh Compensation Water (300000 gals/day through the 12" pipe), for use at Bradshaw and Firwood. Secondly they were buying a competitive capacity - which they then closed down.

Robert Weatherhead Kenyon died at his new home Horrobin Lodge, on 25 February 1939 in his 88th year and was buried in the family grave at St. Anne's, Turton. 

Robert Kenyon, one of the area's largest employers, had been very supportive of the local district and people. He must have died a disappointed man without  surviving sons to continue the operation of Horrobin works.

Horrobin Mill - Works Office
Works Office
(page 21)