Shudehill Mill

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Shudehill Mill
Greater Manchester UK location map 2.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within Greater Manchester
Alternative names Simpson's Mill, Old Mill
Arkwright mill
Structural system wooden floored
Owner Arkwright, Whittenbury, Brocklebank, Simpson and Simpson
Further ownership
  • 1786 (Simpson and Simpson)
Coordinates 53°29′14″N2°14′12″W / 53.4872°N 2.2366°W / 53.4872; -2.2366 Coordinates: 53°29′14″N2°14′12″W / 53.4872°N 2.2366°W / 53.4872; -2.2366
  • 1:1854 (After fire)
Demolished 1940
Floor count 5
Floor area 60.9m X 9.1m
Engine maker Hunt
Engine type Atmospheric steam engines
Water Power
Diameter / width of water wheel 9.1 m / 2.4 m
Date 1782
Williams & Farnie 1992, pp. 50,51

Shudehill Mill or Simpson's Mill was a very early cotton mill in Manchester city centre, England. It was built in 1782 by for Richard Arkwright and his partners and destroyed by fire in 1854. It was rebuilt and finally destroyed during the Manchester Blitz in 1940. One of Arkwright's larger mills, it was built three years before his patent lapsed. The mill had a 30 feet diameter water wheel and a Newcomen atmospheric engine was installed. Doubts remain as to why the engine was installed, whether it was a failed attempt to power a mill directly by steam or was modified to assist the wheel. It is possible that this engine, constructed by Hunt, [1] could have been one of the 13 engines installed in Manchester mills by Joshua Wrigley. [2] Water from the upper storage pond turned the water wheel to drive the mill. The steam engine recycled water from the lower storage pond to the upper storage pond. [3] Three more Boulton and Watt engines were installed to power the increasing number of spindles.

Cotton mill factory housing powered spinning or weaving machinery for the production of yarn or cloth from cotton

A cotton mill is a building housing spinning or weaving machinery for the production of yarn or cloth from cotton, an important product during the Industrial Revolution in the development of the factory system.

Manchester city centre central business district of the City of Manchester, England

Manchester city centre is the central business district of Manchester, England, within the boundaries of Trinity Way, Great Ancoats Street and Whitworth Street. The City Centre ward had a population of 17,861 at the 2011 census.

Richard Arkwright textile entrepreneur; developer of the cotton mill

Sir Richard Arkwright was an English inventor and a leading entrepreneur during the early Industrial Revolution. Although his patents were eventually overturned, he is credited with inventing the spinning frame, which following the transition to water power was renamed the water frame. He also patented a rotary carding engine that transformed raw cotton into cotton lap.



Shudehill is in the centre of Manchester, near its highest point. Shudehill Mill was built between Miller Street and Angel Street to the north of Rochdale Road; its site is now a car park. The River Irwell and Mersey had been made navigable to Manchester in the 1720s opening the way for importing raw cotton and exporting finished cloth and the Bridgewater Canal brought coal from the Worsley Navigable Levels to the Castlefield Basin after 1761. Arkwright had patented a water frame to spin cotton, and in 1775 patented a mechanical carding engine. He took out a second patent that year for drawing and roving. [4] All the pieces were in place for a large automated spinning mill to be built in Manchester. Shudehill Mill, a watermill, was next to a stream, but derived its power from cycling water between two storage ponds, a steam pump was used to replenish the upper pond from the lower.

River Irwell river in Lancashire, United Kingdom

The River Irwell is a 39-mile (63 km) long river which flows through the Irwell Valley in North West England. Its source is at Irwell Springs on Deerplay Moor, approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) north of Bacup. It forms the boundary between Manchester and Salford and empties into the River Mersey near Irlam.

River Mersey Major river emptying into Liverpool Bay

The River Mersey is a river in the North West of England. Its name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon language and translates as "boundary river". The river may have been the border between the ancient kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria and for centuries it formed part of the boundary between the historic counties of Lancashire and Cheshire.

Bridgewater Canal canal

The Bridgewater Canal connects Runcorn, Manchester and Leigh, in North West England. It was commissioned by Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, to transport coal from his mines in Worsley to Manchester. It was opened in 1761 from Worsley to Manchester, and later extended from Manchester to Runcorn, and then from Worsley to Leigh.

Shudehill Mill was close to three of Manchester's great stations, Manchester Victoria railway station, Manchester Exchange railway station and Oldham Road railway station. Shudehill Interchange is the present metro station. The mill itself would lie under the shadow of the CIS Tower. The Shudehill Conservation Area is the other side of the tower.

Manchester Exchange railway station

Manchester Exchange was a railway station in Salford, England, immediately north of Manchester city centre, which served the city between 1884 and 1969. The main approach road ran from the end of Deansgate near Manchester Cathedral, passing over the River Irwell, the Manchester-Salford boundary, and Chapel Street; a second approach road led up from Blackfriars Road. Most of the station was in Salford, with only the 1929 extension to Platform 3 east of the Irwell in Manchester.

Shudehill Interchange

Shudehill Interchange is a transport hub between Manchester Victoria station and the Northern Quarter in Manchester city centre, England, which comprises a Metrolink stop and a bus station.

CIS Tower skyscraper on Miller Street in Manchester, England

The CIS Tower is an office skyscraper on Miller Street in Manchester, England. It was completed in 1962 and rises to 387 feet in height. The Grade II listed building, which houses the Co-operative Banking Group, is Manchester's third-tallest building and the tallest office building in the United Kingdom outside London. The tower remained as built for over 40 years until maintenance issues on the service tower required an extensive renovation which included covering its facade in photovoltaic panels.


The site was originally used as a brick works; it was purchased in 1781, by Arkwright and his partners. Simpsons Mill was a five storey, Arkwright type mill 9.1 m wide and 60.9m long. It housed water frames, carding machines and roving and drawing frames using designs patented by Arkwright. It was driven by a 9.1 m diameter waterwheel driven from the upper storage pond. A steam engine drove a water pump to send the water back to the upper pond. It is thought that the steam engine was of the Newcomen type, [4] though some sources speculate that it could have been of the Savery type. The pump had two cylinders, 31 inches (79 cm) in diameter and a stroke of 93 inches (240 cm) — the steam cylinder was 64 inches (160 cm) in diameter. It operated at 11-12 strokes per minute. It used 5 tonnes of coal a day. It was perhaps because of this excessive coal consumption, that it was supplemented in 1790 with a 6 hp, Boulton and Watt rotative engine. They ran 4,000 spindles. A year later in 1791 they ordered a 40 hp rotative engine to replace them. This was the largest engine that Boulton and Watt had made at that time, and it was operating by the end of the summer in 1792. . [5] A further 30 hp Boulton and Watt was bought in 1799. [6] The mill was destroyed by fire in 1854.

Boulton & Watt was an early British engineering and manufacturing firm in the business of designing and making marine and stationary steam engines. Founded in the English West Midlands around Birmingham in 1775 as a partnership between the English manufacturer Matthew Boulton and the Scottish engineer James Watt, the firm had a major role in the Industrial Revolution and grew to be a major producer of steam engines in the 19th century.

By 1888 it had been rebuilt using many of the original walls. It was at this stage that two extra storeys were added. The two reservoirs were filled in- it operated under steam. Then in October 1892, the mill was sold to Baxendale and Co., a firm of engineers and plumbers' merchants. They described 'the structure, of the mill, was massive brickwork with very heavy wooden floors supported by corbels in the walls.' They redeveloped the site. By 1908 the main building was subdivided. Baxendales mill was destroyed by enemy action on the night of 23 October 1940. The site remained derelict until it was redeveloped by NCP as a car-park. [6]


Simpsons Mill was a five storey, Arkwright type mill said to be 9.1 m wide and 60.9m long. Baxendaleś mill was seven storeys, and used the same massive walls. In 2004, an archaeological dig was done on the site to try to solve some outstanding questions. It had been claimed that the Newcomen engine was not used as a pumping engine, but was an attempt that failed to power the mill directly from steam. The original width of the first mill was in doubt, and the position of the wheel pit not known. The results suggest that the mill was always 12m wide, and the wheel pit was internal to the mill. The original function of the Newcomen engine remains undecided. [7]


The engine house and the chimney were detached from the mill, though a later engine house may have been built adjacent to the centre on the eastern side.

See also

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  1. Wessex 2004 , p. 7
  2. Williams & Farnie 1992 , pp. 50,51
  3. Hills 1989 , p. 43
  4. 1 2 Hills 1989 , p. 41
  5. Hills 1989 , p. 49,50
  6. 1 2 3 Wessex 2004 , p. 10
  7. Wessex 2004 , p. 27