Extract from Discovering Old Huddersfield (1993-2002) by Gordon & Enid Minter:
The first mill here, probably a fulling mill, was built in 1679 on the Dalton side of the river, by a William Bradley, hence the name of the area. Because the fall of the river is only slight in this area a great deal of endeavour was needed to bring water to the mill wheel. A weir was constructed two thirds of a mile away upstream on an arc of the river and sluices were installed to control the flow of water along a correspondingly long head race dug along the foot of Kilner Bank. This was called, simply, The Goit. Traces of this feature may still be seen from the stadium's car park, although it is likely that they will soon disappear.
In the mid eighteenth century Joseph Atkinson, who originated in Cumberland, bought Bradley Mill and, in time, his sons and grandsons added to the premises until all the processes of the woollen industry were carried out on the one site.
One of Joseph Atkinson's grandsons, Thomas, was a great opponent of the Luddites and he took an active part against them. Shearing frames were introduced at Bradley Mills as early as 1800 and were working there from 1803. It was only after their use spread into other mills that serious discontent was felt which was to culminate in machine-breaking and murder in 1812. There is a report that Bradley Mill was attacked by the Luddites in April, 1812 although this is unconfirmed. It is certain though that Thomas Atkinson's life was threatened, as a letter received by Mr Justice Radcliffe of Milnsbridge and signed General Snipshears states that "...those who are among our greatest persecutors, Mr Horsfall and Mr. Atkinson will soon be numbered among the dead." The letter was received on the day before William Horsfall was murdered. Thomas Atkinson was spared.
By 1850 a large complex of buildings, a mixture of industrial premises and dwelling houses, had appeared on both sides of Bradley Mills Lane between the river and the steeply sloping Kilner Bank. Over the years, industrial pollution from the mill, and from other industry in the lower Colne Valley, killed most of the vegetation on Kilner Bank and it appeared for decades as a gaunt treeless cliff. Thirty or so years ago the bank was replanted and now the trees are growing tall its appearance has been pleasantly softened.Before leaving the Bradley Mills area note the bridge over the river Colne which has recently been cleaned and repaired. It is possible that the bridge was built merely to provide access to the mill from the Huddersfield side of the river. However, it seems more likely that the mill was built by an already existing bridge which was part of an old route from Huddersfield via Rawthorpe, Dalton, Kirkheaton and Mirfield to Dewsbury.