Shorefoot Mills, Huddersfield
- appears on maps: 1851 [#435], 1890 [#814], 1892 [#133]
- location on 1851 map: Shore Head (now Wakefield Road), Huddersfield
- location on 1890 map: The Shore (now Wakefield Road), Huddersfield
- status: no longer exists
- category: mill
- notes: grain & dye stuffs mill (1851), flour mill (1890)
Discovering Old Huddersfield
Extract from Discovering Old Huddersfield (1993-2002) by Gordon & Enid Minter:
After negotiating the lights at Shore Head we are once again on the route of the London Road and it is in this area that Ogilby marks a water mill on his map. This was Huddersfield's manorial corn mill at Shore Foot which stood on a site now covered by the University car park.
In feudal times a mill probably existed in every manor, erected by the lord of the manor, or his agent, close to the main stream. To build a mill was an expensive job involving the carting and dressing of building stone, the use of special timbers and much skilled civil engineering of goits and sluices as well as the provision and dressing of the mill stones themselves. Feudal owners, therefore, came to insist that the manorial mill ground for the whole district at a definite charge and, further, that the tenants should be responsible for repairs to the wheel and the dam. Thus the manorial mill was a profitable investment for the lord of the manor and of some benefit to his tenants as it saved many tedious hours of hand grinding. However, transport to the mill from remote parts of the manor was difficult and the fees charged were expensive and the lord's monopoly was often a cause of deep resentment.
Although it is known that a corn mill was working in Huddersfield some eight hundred years ago it is impossible to be sure that the original mill was at Shore Foot. Dr. Redmonds has found references in the early sixteenth century to the "mill at the Shore" so there can be no doubt that the site is of a certain antiquity.
It is thought that in its early days as well as grinding corn, the mill also worked fulling hammers and in later centuries was probably concerned with other aspects of the textile industry. Certainly, for a good many years towards the end of the eighteenth century the Akinson family ran the mills as they ran several other textile mills in the area including Bradley Mills (See tour 2 No. 17) and Colne Bridge Mills where, in 1818, a disastrous fire killed seventeen young girls.
Shore Foot Mill continued to grind corn until circa 1915 and although, because of its position, its demolition was inevitable, it is rather sad that its presence is now largely forgotten as its past importance is undeniable and its story of some interest.
The mill was built at some distance from its only possible source of power, the River Colne, and its working was made possible by the digging of a goit or head race some three hundred yards long (273 metres) to bring water from the river to the mill wheel. The head of water necessary to feed the goit was provided by the building of a large weir across the bed of the river and the flow was controlled by sluices at each end of the goit. Another slightly longer goit was dug to carry the spent water across Aspley Common to rejoin the river about a quarter of a mile downstream. The initial work involved in all this must have been considerable, as must the subsequent maintenance and rebuilding of the weir and goits which were more than once damaged by floods, and it is gratifying that the weir and part of the head race remain to this day to remind us of one of the town's great enterprises.
Near to the site of the mill, on the right hand side of the road, there still stands a building of some antiquity. This was a woollen warehouse and it was probably once associated with the mill as it was tenanted in the 1780s by a member of the Atkinson family. For several years, during the 1970s and 80s, the building stood empty and there was much debate about its future, whilst all the time its condition deteriorated, and it seemed likely that it would be left to tumble down into ruin. Then, in the late 1980s, along came a developer who sympathetically converted the warehouse into dwelling apartments and in so doing saved what must be one of the oldest industrial buildings in Huddersfield.