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Mill demolished to make way for M65

I REALISE I have mentioned Jewel Mill in previous articles in this series but the splendid illustration which accompanies today's offering has recently come into my hands. The picture is taken from an undated postcard and shows a view of the mill and an industrial landscape taken from close to Greenhead Lane in Reedley Hallows.

Local historians, like myself, often, but erroneously, make the assumption that readers will know exactly where a particular location can be found. There are a number of buildings in this picture which are standing today but the main one, Jewel Mill, which you can see in the foreground, is long since gone. Another problem is that the card is not in particularly good condition. I hope this does not affect your enjoyment of the article.

Although the card indicates Jewel Mill is in Brierfield, that is not actually the case. The mill was in Reedley Hallows, the township between Burnley and Brierfield. These days the township is in Pendle but this is something of a mistake in that, historically, Reedley, like Burnley, was in the Manor of Ightenhill. Brierfield was part of the Manor of Colne though, until the later 19th Century, Brierfield was known as Little Marsden.

It was in 1974, and as a consequence of the Local Government Act of 1972, that Reedley was placed in the Borough of Pendle, one of a number of arbitrary decisions that should not have been allowed to happen.

Higham with West Close Booth, to give the place its proper name, was another. Burnley should have had both of these areas and, to add insult to injury, Simonstone (which was originally in the newly created Borough of Burnley) was removed from it and added to Ribble Valley.

At the time the photo was taken, early in the 20th Century, Reedley was an area of scattered farms and country houses together with a few small clusters of cottages. One of these was at Holme End, the home of Jack Moore's Monkey, and another at Pendle Bridge.

There was a certain amount of what we would call "ribbon development" in Colne Road. The houses nearer Burnley were among the most prestigious in the district and some had very large gardens. Perhaps the most famous of the big houses was Oakleigh, built in the 1880s by Abraham Altham, the Haggate-born industrialist, grocer and travel agent.

The better residences also included Reedley Hall, Reedley Lodge and Reedley Grove, together with Hawk's House and Monkholme. The very old Greenhead was perhaps the most interesting of the properties and I suspect that, in those days, the now demolished Lodge House and Montford were both in Reedley.

However, there was at least one industrial area. This was centred around Jewel Mill which was situated on the banks of Pendle Water and at the bottom of Robinson Lane although access was also possible to the site from both Holme End and Quaker Bridge. Nothing is left of the site today as the building of the M65 has destroyed what was one of the most interesting industrial complexes in the whole of our region.

The building you see in the foreground of the picture shows the whole of the length of Jewel Mill. The three-storey part to the right was the oldest part of the mill and it was originally driven by water and used for spinning. This, of course, tells us Jewel Mill was built in the early part of the Industrial Revolution. Maps of the area show a long mill stream (otherwise a mill race) which took water from above Waterside which is higher up Pendle Water itself. The race filled a reservoir, or mill lodge, which you can see in the photo to the left of the mill chimney.

The latter reminds us the mill was converted at some time to steam power when large extensions were built. The newer parts of the mill are to the left of the taller water powered section and you may be able to make out the middle part of the building was a narrow weaving shed with a distinctive north light roof. Jewel Mill was already about a century old when, in 1891, the firm was reconstituted as the Union Mill Co. Ltd. This reflected an association with a Sabden company but, only two years later, the name of Lockwood & Buckley was adopted and this firm ran the business until the firm closed.

I visited the mill in 1970 when I was working, as a student, at Mansfield High School. It was a fascinating place and was not all that much altered from 1930 when the mill contained 8,000 spindles and a number of power looms. I recall there were some very old preparatory machines; the building would have made a wonderful textile museum even then.

However, what made Jewel Mill so interesting was, though this picture does not reveal it, there was a row of tiny weavers' cottages behind the mill to the left. I have seen a photo of these and they were the finest examples of their type I have seen. Unfortunately their remains lie beneath the motorway. It might interest some readers to know there are some weavers' cottages still in existence, and in close proximity to the mill they were built to serve, at Altham, near Padiham.

The photo we publish today gives a good view of the area behind Jewel Mill. Much of this panorama is in Brierfield. On the left you should be able to see the great gas holder at Brierfield Gas Works which was actually operated by Nelson Gas Works Company. To the right of this building the huge Brierfield Mills can be seen and, to the right again, Pendle View and Lob Lane Sheds are visible. The mill standing by itself, furthest right, is Meadow Bank Mill, almost, but not quite, in Reedley.

I don't want to labour the point but I hope today's picture prints clearly. I was very fortunate to be able to find such a splendid view of this most interesting of our local mills.

 
 
 

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