New Bridge Mill, Meltham

New Bridge Mill was a mill situated in Meltham at the crossroads of Brow Grains Road, New Bridge Road, Mill Moor Road and Leygards Lane.

Some parts of the mill appear to have been demolished, whilst the rest is now incorporated into residential use.


By 1851, the mill was in the possession of Messrs. Robert Beaumont and Co.

At around 2am on the morning of Wednesday 24 September 1851, the mill was found to be on fire. The Huddersfield Chronicle reported that the mill was "filled with machinery, which was nearly new, and of the most valuable description ; comprising three pairs of spinning jennies ; three billies, together with the requisite number of scribbing and carding engines ; a willow, a fearnought, and a machine for picking wool." The alarm was raised by two boys who "slept in the one of the upper storeys of the mill", who were lucky not to have been overcome by smoke. By 4am, half a dozen casks of oil had increased the intensity of the fire and the floors and roof had collapsed. Word bad been sent for local fire engines, but the one at Meltham Mills was out action and one from Honley eventually arrived just before 6am. It took four hours to extinguish the fire and the damage was estimated at around £2,000.[1]

On Saturday 21 February 1863, the body of 22-year-old Green Armitage of Meltham[2] was found in the mill's reservoir. He had apparently committed suicide the evening before, after having been seen "rambling about in Greenfield, Saddleworth ... in a seemingly dejected state of mind." Tragically, he was due to be married on that Saturday at Huddersfield Parish Church. An inquest was quickly held and returned an open verdict, noting that £3 17s. 10d in gold and silver had been found on the deceased. He was buried on 24 February at St. Bartholomew.[3]

By September 1863, the mill was being operated by Messrs. Walker and Ramsden (also linked to Albion Mill). On 23 September, the drying stove building was found to be on fire. As the fire had quickly taken hold and there was no apparent risk of it spreading to other buildings, the owners decided to let the fire burn out as they felt nothing could be saved.[4]

In October 1865, Messrs. Walker and Ramsden were fined for employing two boys under the age of 13 and for falsifying records.[5]

Ramsden was a vocal opponent of the Huddersfield Water Act of 1869 and wrote a letter of complaint on 30 July 1869 to the Chronicle stating that the amount of water he had been allocated wasn't enough to power his mill.[6] However, the Chronicle then took the opportunity to point out that the millowners had only themselves to blame for being so obstinate — "those who will play at bowls, must expect rubbers."

As part of the terms of the 1869 Act, the Huddersfield Corporation laid a pipe from Blackmoorfoot Reservoir to provide a flow of "951 gallons per minute" into Brow Grains Dike above New Bridge Mill during the hours between 6am and 6pm on "every lawful working day."

On 13 May 1871, mill employee Hugh Hinchcliffe was taking a "lurry" full of material and large skeps of yarn down towards Meltham. As they descended Mill Moor Road towards Albion Mill, the cart passed over a large stone and he was thrown from his seat, falling forwards behind the horse. Unfortunately one of the cart wheels then passed over his head and killed him instantly. The inquest recorded an accidental death.[7]

By the late 1880s, the mill was being run by Ernest Ramsden and William Halstead. On 13 March 1889, a new limited company was registered to take over the running of the mill and its liabilities. Ernest Ramsden was one of the seven Ramsdens who formed the company, which also included William Ramsden (solicitor of Meltham) and Alfred Ramsden (sharebroker of Meltham).[8] This new company was voluntarily wound up in March 1892 "in consequence of the unsatisfactory condition of the yard trade."[9]

Auction notices for the mills appeared sporadically in the Chronicle from April 1892 through to September 1895.

In October 1895, Messrs. Sykes, Sons and Co. of Lockwood applied to the Meltham Urban District Council for a licence to "carry on the business of soap boiling, &c., at New Bridge Mills, Meltham.[10] At a subsequent meeting, it was moved that "the application ... for a licence to commence and carry on the trades of drysalters, soap and chemical manufacturers, tallow melting, bone boiling, and size making, at New Bridge Mills, Meltham, be not granted."[11]

Reportedly, soap manufacturer William Burnside McPhaill took over the mill 1896 but filed for bankruptcy in 1900.[12]

The mill was placed up for auction again in September 1900, and was reported as "comprising a four storey stone-built mill, 63ft. 6in. long by 42ft. 6in. wide, with other trade premises, as well as machinery and fittings ; also four stone-built cottages, four closes of land, &c."[13]

In July 1903, the Meltham Spinning Company accused the Huddersfield Corporation of failing in their obligation to provide the 951 gallons per minute flow from Blackmoorfoot Reservoir.[14]

On 29 October 1912, Arnold James Ingham, resident at New Bridge Mill, Meltham, committed suicide by drinking oxalic acid and then drowned himself in the mill's reservoir.[15] On 8 April 1843, 65-year-old widow Lydia Redfearn, of 3 Hollingworth Green, Meltham, committed suicide by drowning herself in the same reservoir. A verdict of "drowned herself while of unsound mind" was returned by the jury. Her husband, John Hinchcliffe Redfearn, had died in 1937.[16]

On the evening of 27 January 1949, £600 of worsted cloth was stolen from the mill, which at that time was owned by James Dawson and Sons Ltd.[17] 37-year-old Walter Gee of Chapel Lane, Moldgreen, was later changed with being the "master mind behind a gang of cloth thieves" responsible for the theft.[18]

The West Riding Brewery (generally regarded as Huddersfield's first microbrewery) was based at the mill from 1983 until the building was destroyed in a fire in January 1986.[19]



Notes and References

  1. "Meltham: Destruction of a Woollen Mill by Fire" in Huddersfield Chronicle (27/Sep/1851).
  2. Green was the illegitimate child of spinster Selina Armitage and no father's name was recorded on his baptismal record of 23 August 1840 at St. Bartholomew, Meltham. By 1851, Selina had married Edward Hoyle and Green is named as the "natural son of wife". By 1861, he was lodging with the Butterworth family.
  3. "Meltham: Suicide" in Huddersfield Chronicle (28/Feb/1863). The suicide was reported widely in other regional newspapers.
  4. "Meltham: Fire" in Huddersfield Chronicle (26/Sep/1863).
  5. Huddersfield Chronicle (04/Oct/1865).
  6. "The Mayor and the Meltham Millowners" in Huddersfield Chronicle (31/Jul/1869).
  7. "Meltham: Fatality to a Fettler" in Huddersfield Chronicle (20/May/1871).
  8. "New Limited Company" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (19/Mar/1889).
  9. Huddersfield Chronicle (26/Mar/1892).
  10. "Meltham" in Huddersfield Chronicle (05/Oct/1895).
  11. Huddersfield Chronicle (31/Oct/1895).
  12. Underground Histories
  13. Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (26/Sep/1900).
  14. Yorkshire Evening Post (16/July/1903).
  15. Yorkshire Post (29/Oct/1912).
  16. "Depression and Nerves" in Yorkshire Evening Post (09/Apr/1943).
  17. "£600 Cloth Theft" in Yorkshire Evening Post (28/Jan/1949).
  18. Yorkshire Evening Post (11/Oct/1949).
  19. Camra Ale Talk (PDF, Spring 2016).