Cotton Twist Company

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The Lower Mill of the Cotton Twist Company of Holywell was powered by the waters of St Winifred.

The Flintshire Record Office, D/DM/299/6, detailed an important cotton project from 1785 -
Co-partnership indenture 1 January 1785
(i) Thomas Douglas of Grantham, co. Lincoln, esq.
(ii) William Douglas of Pendleton, co. Lancaster, merchant.
(iii) Daniel Whittaker of Manchester, co. Lancaster, merchant.
(iv) Elizabeth Smalley of Holywell, co. Flint, widow.
(v) Peter Atherton, late of London, but now of Holywell, merchant.
Assignment by (i) - (iv) to (v) of one fifth share in messuages, cottages, lately erected cotton mill, lately erected corn mill and other buildings and lands, weirs, mill-ponds, banks, mill-races, streams and watercourses, and one fifth share in buildings formerly called the Upper Paper Mill, and in land called the lower part of the Long Meadow, and an 18 ft fall of water, and in a lately erected skin house and yard, all in Holywell, for the residue of several terms of years affecting them; assignment from (i) - (iv) to (v) of four fifth shares in the sites of the lowest corn mill and of the 'Black Jack' works and messuages and lands in Holywell for the residue of a term of 99 years; terms, conditions and covenants specified.

The Cotton Twist Company of Holywell was born Thomas Pennant described the scene -
'At a small distance to the south of the manufactory of brass wire of every denomination, a most magnificent cotton works soars, like the tower of Babel, above all the lower buildings. I shall here only say, that about 10 weeks before its completion, nothing but a void appeared before me. At the expiration of that space, in another ride I took, I cannot express my astonishment at feeling the enormous mass risen, as if by magic, out of the ground. It was erected in the summer of 1785, it is 36 yards long, 10 yards wide and 6 stories high, and is worked with a water wheel 18 ft high and 7 feet wide with a fall of water of 16 feet ...'

No doubt by 1785 this 'magnificent' mill took advantage of all the recent technical & organisational innovations from around Manchester which spearheaded the textile industry and the industrial revolution -
1733 John Kay and his flying shuttle
1738 Lewis Paul & John Wyatt and their spinning rollers
1769 Richard Arkwright and his water powered frames
1770 James Hargreaves and his spinning jenny
1779 Samuel Crompton and his mule
1785 Edmund Cartwright and his power loom

The Lower Cotton Mill in The Greenfield Valley was a culmination of all this luxurious exuberance ... however the mill was a spinning mill and not involved in weaving ...

The new 1785 partnership included brothers Thomas & William Douglas and Peter Atherton in addition to Daniel Whittaker and the Smalleys, their ambition was unbounded and in 1790 a fourth six story mill was added, 'The Crescent Mill'. The mills collectively were known as The Cotton Twist Company of Holywell. 'The Upper Mill', worked 12,218 spindles, 'The Lower Mill', 7,492 spindles and 'The Crescent Mill', 8,286 spindles. 26,096 pounds of thread were produced in an average week, furnishing employment for nearly 1000 persons. In 1792 there was a warehouse in Sussex Street, Manchester and in 1796 Back Square, Manchester.

In 1793 The Manchester Mercury announced The Cotton Twist Company of Holywell 'was put and End to, on the twelfth Day of November one thousand seven hundred and ninety' ...

These Lancashire merchants were an incestuous lot, the same names cropped up again and again ... but together they built the backbone of the industrial revolution and transformed Flintshire




Sources for this article include:

•  The Early Industrialists in Flintshire

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Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024