Monday 9 August 2021

Bradshaw Works Extensions

Extract from Bradshaw Works by J J Francis, Chapter 11, pages 38-42.

By the 1850s, the works had grown considerably and we are fortunate in having a plan of 1853, showing the southern section of the Works. 

The original bleach croft to the north east of the site remained as the Old Croft or Higher Bowk House, but an additional Lower Bowk House now supplemented the previous bleaching capacity. This was housed in the extended main block adjacent to the river. The Dye Houses had also been extended. 

Bradshaw Works

Although power for machinery continued to come from the water wheel, an additional beam engine was added to supplement the older engine. These beam engines ran at 25 rpm with cylinders of 2ft 10in diameter and stroke of 6ft. Their flywheels were of 26ft 2in and 25ft 2in diameter respectively. Unfortunately, we know nothing of their makers. The power was transmitted by a 6in diameter cast iron shaft to the various shops. 

Additional store rooms and maintenance shops had been built and a gasometer built to hold the gas produced on site before the mains supply was available. A new machine place was added to this main block to house the new rotary printing machines, although some block printing continued up to the 1914-18 War. 

Bradshaw Hall Works: 1853
Bradshaw Hall Works: 1853

A newly erected building to the north of the site housed mangles and calenders, the drive shaft from the beam engine crossing the yard in a covered trough. 

The new Joiner's Shop was also built to include the saw pit - the long timber lintel can still be seen under which logs and baulks could be rolled into the shop.

Most of these buildings were built of locally quarried stone and tradition has it that the stone blocks were floated on rafts down the goit from the stone quarry behind the old corn mill and down into the reservoir and the Works area. 

The two oldest buildings still existing probably date from the late 18th century and are the old bleach croft with its small square chimney (now almost in ruins) and the present canteen to the east of the site near the entrance. The latter building was originally used as a drying room with steam pipes running through the building to dry the cloth hung from poles in the rafters. It is still recalled as the ‘New Patent Stove’ or ‘Royal George’. On the northern side is a lean-to extension which has included a cottage as well as small rooms that served as a butcher's shop and beer house to supply workers with goods before the Truck Acts of 1831 forbade payment in kind other than coin of the realm. 

In the later years of James Hardcastle's life in the 1860s, there seemed to be increased building activity probably stimulated by his eldest son Thomas's interest, who was now well into his 20s and taking an active part in the business. 

The old Bleach Croft or Higher Bowk House to the north of the site was reconstructed and re-equipped at a total cost of £2699 2s. 10d. It is likely that it was at this time that the large breastshot waterwheel was rebuilt (approximately 16' diameter x 16' wide), that continued to power the croft up to 1950. Jackson Brothers supplied the wheel, boilers and castings, etc. 

A new Grey Room was built for £760 16s 9d and extensive alterations and additions were made to the large main building housing the Dye House and Lower Bowk House at a cost of £3565 13s  3d. These works were included in detailed bills from Joseph Marsden, Builder of Bolton in 1869. Other work included the new Gate House including gate posts and walls at £374 11s 6d and ‘Petties’ at £47 1s 10d. The new Gas Meter House at £7 18 0d signalled the coming of a mains gas supply. 

An extension was added to the Boiler House, the ten boilers being in the basement of the building that was eventually to be of three storeys, to house the Progressive Stentering Department. These boilers were fired from the open yard area between the Engine House and Dye House. 

James Hardcastle also developed outside the works and in 1868, built the cottages on Harwood Lea, Church Street and King Street, primarily to secure a workforce in the immediate locality. It was ironic that he had to build his houses in Harwood Township, but the Bradshaw Isherwood estates decided that housing development was to be limited in Bradshaw to the Chapel area already developed by the Scowcroft family. 

James also had the ‘Royal Oak Inn’ built on Bradshaw Brow. 

The most precious commodity of the bleacher was still fresh clean water and to ensure an adequate supply the mill owners on the Bradshaw Brook (including Thomas Hardcastle) had in 1838 constructed the Entwistle Reservoir. However, the social need of water for Bolton and district became increasingly desperate as the working population concentrated more and more in the town. Reservoirs were built on Bolton Moor, Heaton and Belmont, but an increasing supply became necessary from higher collecting grounds and by the Bolton Improvement Act of 1864, the Corporation were empowered to take over the Entwistle Reservoir. Naturally, the mill owners objected strongly to this attack on their livelihood, but eventually Bolton Corporation achieved their aim, conditional on their constructing a compensation reservoir lower down stream - the Wayoh Reservoir - the outflow from which would be controlled by the mill owners concerned. Although started in 1866, the new reservoir was not completed until 1876. 

Extensive pipework was necessary to all the mills on the brook, to enable delivery of a specified amount of washing water according to an agreed formula. 

In the midst of all the works development and pipe laying construction work, James Hardcastle died on 30th September 1869. 

The Bolton Chronicle published the following obituary notice "We have this week to record the death of James Hardcastle, Esq., of Firwood, in the 69th year of his age. Mr. Hardcastle was the eldest son of the late Thomas Hardcastle, Esq., the founder of the extensive bleachworks at Firwood, as well as of the bleach, print, and dyeworks at Bradshaw, and a partner in the eminent banking firm of Messrs. Hardcastle Cross & Co. He was born in March 1801, in Churchgate in this town, which at that time was one of its suburbs, and he married Miss Jackson of the Pike, a sister of Mr. T. C. Jackson of the Wharf Foundry. Shortly before the passing of the Reform Act of 1832, he became a candidate with Mr. Richard Potter, a Liberal, for the Parliamentary representation of Wigan, which was at that time a close borough, its members being elected by the Mayor, and about 70 Burgesses – a self-appointed body. Both Mr. Hardcastle and his colleague, however, were defeated. At the first 

Parliamentary election in Bolton in December 1832, on the enfranchisement of the Borough under the Reform Bill, Mr. Hardcastle became a warm supporter of Mr. William Bolling, the Conservative candidate, acting as Chairman of his committee during a six months close canvas. The other candidates on that occasion were Lieut. Col. Torrens and Mr. John Ashton Yates, Liberals, and Mr. W. Eagle, a Radical, and Col. Torrens and Mr. Bolling were returned. Mr. Hardcastle was a consistent Conservative through life, though holding many liberal views on many questions. He was opposed to the Charter of Incorporation. On the 9th April 1845, he was placed upon the commission of the peace for this County, but he seldom took a very active part on the Bench. He was also created High Sheriff of Denbighshire some eight years ago. One of the most active Commissioners of the Turton and Entwistle reservoir, he strenuously opposed the application of the Corporation for a Bill to enable them to purchase those Works. For many years he was also one of the surveyors of Highways of Harwood. Beyond fulfilling these offices, Mr. Hardcastle, though possessed of knowledge of the most comprehensive nature, and endowed moreover with an exceedingly active mind, never exerted himself greatly in public affairs. He was liberal hearted to a degree which will perhaps never be fully known, and gave largely towards the erection of Bradshaw Church. For some time past Mr. Hardcastle had been in declining health. In the summer he visited Buxton with a view to recruiting his strength, but whilst there, in the beginning of last August, he was seized with organic disease of the heart and dropsy. He returned to his residence at Pen-y-lan near Ruabon in North Wales, where he seemed to rally for a time, but ere long his complaint assumed a more aggravated form. Last week, however, much improvement was noticed in his health, and on the Friday, strong hopes were entertained of his ultimate recovery. But two days afterwards, erysipelas supervened, and though he was assiduously attended by Dr. Perkins, he gradually sank, and died about half past five o'clock on Thursday evening. The deceased gentleman leaves a widow and seven children, namely:- three sons and four daughters. His remains will be interred at Harwood in the middle of next week". 

James Hardcastle had donated £400 towards the proposed new church at Bradshaw but insufficient funding had caused building to get no further than the foundations. Hence his interment at Harwood.