Sunny Bank Mills, Meltham

Sunny Bank Mills, sometimes referred to separately as Lower Sunny Bank Mill and Upper Sunny Bank Mill. is a mill complex situated off Red Lane, Meltham.


In March 1850, mill-owner James Taylor was charged with failing to report an accident at the mill within the mandatory 24-hour period. After eventually pleading guilty, Taylor was fined £2 11s. 6d.[1]

In December 1855, the Huddersfield Chronicle began carrying notices announcing that James Taylor would be auctioning off the mill, along with its machinery and effects.[2]

On Saturday 12 November 1870, a teenage girl received "severe lacerations of her arms" after being caught in machinery.[3]

By 1871, the mill was being run by George Thewlis and Sons.[4]

On Wednesday 27 December 1871, spinner John Dearnley[5] had been attempting to attach a strap to a pulley in the mill when his clothes became caught and "the poor fellow was whirled round [the shaft] in an instant." After the engine had been stopped, Dearnsley was found with both feet cut off and "his head dreadfully crushed", but still alive. He died about ten minutes later.[6] He was buried on 29 December at Upperthong.

In February and May 1876, James Kilburn of Meltham advertised Lower Sunny Bank Mill for let in the Huddersfield Chronicle, "with immediate possession."[7] The notices reappeared from October 1876 through to January 1877, from June to December 1877, and from March to July 1878.

At some point, the mill was purchased by Edwin Woodhouse, who then advertised it for sale by auction in early January 1882.[8]

In January 1882, mill-owner Joel W. Denham, of Messrs. J.W. Denham and Co., Lower Sunny Bank Mills, gave a dinner for about 200 of his workers at the Rose and Crown Inn, Meltham. Toasts were drunk to the health of Denham's son, Master A.C. Denham, and to the "health and prosperity to the workpeople connected with the film."[9]

Denham was still the owner in January 1889 when he held a "workpeople's tea party and ball" at the Oddfellow's Hall in Meltham for around 50 of his employees. Singing and dancing, aided by coffee served at10pm, continued late into the night.[10]

By 1890, Alfred T. Woodhead was running Upper Sunny Bank Mill. A fire broke at in the scribbing department of his mill on 23 July 1890 which caused an estimate £5,000 to £6,000 of damage. The mill had been "running day and night for some eight months past". Fire engines from nearby mills helped with the efforts to bring the fire under control but, within an hour, the roof and floors had collapsed. It took nearly five hours to extinguish the fire. Fortunately, iron doors had been fitted internally and these stopped the flames spreading to other parts of the mill.[11]

In November 1894, Woodhead treated his employees to an evening of food and entertainment at the Rose and Crown Inn, Meltham, to celebrate the marriage of his daughter earlier that week.[12]

Early on the morning of 8 June 1899, 18-year-old Harriet Pursur[13] of Sheffield attempted to commit suicide by drinking a bottle of laudanum and throwing herself into the Sunny Bank mill pond. She was found on the embankment by millhand Fred Taylor and Dr. Woodhead was summoned, who was able to nurse her back to conciousness. By noon the same day, she was in front of the County Police Court in Huddersfield and J.A. Wrigley. She reportedly cried "bitterly during the greater part of the brief proceedings" and was remanded to the local Workhouse.[14] The following week, a further Police Court session heard that Superintendent Pickard had found a new position for the teenager and she was released into her father's care without being charged.[15]

The 1906 O.S. map of the area shows Lower Sunny Bank Mill as "disused".

Lower Sunny Bank Mill was advertised for sale or let in October 1914.[16] Auction notices appeared again in February 1929 and June 1933.[17]

In September 1933, a fire "destroyed a store shed containing cotton materials" belonging to Messrs. A.T. Woodhead and Sons, causing £7,000 to £8,000 of damage. The Huddersfield Fire Brigade were able to stop the fire spreading to the adjacent mill.[18] A.T. Woodhead and Sons were also linked to the nearby Rough Nook Dye Works.

In more recent years, the mills have been refurbished as office and commercial space.


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Notes and References

  1. "Factory Informations" in Leeds Intelligencer (30/Mar/1850).
  2. Full details eventually appeared in Huddersfield Chronicle (12/Jan/1856).
  3. "Meltham: Mill Accident" in Huddersfield Chronicle (19/Nov/1870).
  4. A notice to recruit "a few good power-loom weavers" appeared in the Huddersfield Chronicle (21/Oct/1871).
  5. His surname was incorrectly reported as "Dearnsley". The 1871 Census shows him living near to the mill with his wife and four children.
  6. "Dreadful Accident at Meltham" in Leeds Mercury (30/Dec/1871).
  7. Huddersfield Chronicle (12/Feb/1876) onwards.
  8. Huddersfield Chronicle (31/Dec/1881).
  9. "Local and District News: Treat to the Workpeople" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (02/Feb/1882).
  10. Huddersfield Chronicle (26/Jan/1889).
  11. "Serious Mill Fire at Meltham" in Huddersfield Chronicle (26/Jul/1890).
  12. "Marriage Festivities at Meltham" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (19/Nov/1894).
  13. Although her surname was given as "Pursur", it was presumably "Purser".
  14. "A Domestic's Folly" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (09/Jun/1899).
  15. Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (14/Jun/1899).
  16. Yorkshire Post (03/Oct/1914).
  17. Yorkshire Post (09/Feb/1929) and Yorkshire Post (17/Jun/1933).
  18. Yorkshire Post (29/Sep/1933).