Our research topic for February and March is mining and quarrying in Cowling Parish. The group studied information on 19th century coal mining at Reedshaw in the far west of the parish, on the Lancashire boarder. This was in an area now flooded by the eastern end of the reservoir there. We also have statistics regarding a trial lead mine at Gill Bottom in the 19th century. A spoil heap for this mine is still evident by the roadside, on the left before the disused cottages, when travelling NE on Shop Lane. The mine however was and still is on private land, with no access now available. The information for both mines was provided by Mike Gill of Sutton-in-Craven.
We have however very little quarrying information. We know there was a large quarry at Earl’s Crag in the 19th century and that Dick Lane actually stopped as it entered the quarry and then continued after it. We however have no dates, statistics or name of owner. There were also important quarries at Knoll Hill and Mires Close in the 19th century, but again we have no information. It is said that stone went from one of these quarries to build a dock at Heysham in Morecambe Bay. We know there were also several other smaller quarries. If anyone has any information regarding quarrying or mining in Cowling please get in touch.
A disastrous fire, resulting in the destruction of Ickornshaw Mill, occurred on Sunday morning last
The mill, which is the property of The Craven Bank, and rented by Mr Thomas Watson,Worsted Manufacturer, was 4 storeys high and 40yards
long. The lower room was used as a store-room for weft and other stock; the second room was used for twisting; the third for weaving, and the top storey for dressing.
The fire occurred in the lower storey, and was discovered at about 6.30am by a mill hand named Jonas Shuttleworth, who resided near the premises. He promptly gave the alarm, and assistance having been procured water was then thrown by buckets on to the fire (the fire-extinguishing apparatus with the mill being useless) and a mounted messenger was despatched to Keighley for the fire brigade.
A manual engine from the town arrived at about half-past eight, followed in about a quarter of an hour by the borough steam fire-engine.
By this time, however, the flames had obtained a complete hold of the building and the roof had fallen in, so the brigade turned their attention to saving that portion of the mill where the engine is situated, and in this they were fortunately successful.
The building, however, was completely gutted, and a large number of machinery and stock was destroyed. There were 56 looms in the mill
and a large quantity of weft, but a considerable portion of the machinery had been removed to new premises only a short time previously; and workmen had been engaged in the task of removal until the late hours of Saturday night.
The flames were fortunately prevented from spreading to the weaving shed which adjoins the mill, or the damage done to the property would
not only have been much greater, but a large number of workpeople thrown out of employment, as the greater portion of them are employed in this part of the mill.
The damage is estimated at £2,500, and is covered by insurance in the Sun Fire Office.
A portion of the mill is sub-let by Mr Watson to Mr Robert Pickles, who had 26 looms in his department.
Part of the mill was worked by water and the other portion by steam and it is hoped that operations in the weaving shed will be resumed.
The fire, which burned for some hours with great brilliancy, and was observable from a great distance, is believed to have been caused by
the spontaneous combustion of weft.
Researched from the
CRAVEN HERALD dated 22 March 1884 by Dennis Harkeand typed out larger by Norman Binns.
For a summary of findings from this newspaper article read the article below.
The research began at the March meeting was continued. This time however (April), the whole group examined a Craven Herald article from March 1884. This described “a disastrous fire, resulting in the destruction of Ickornshaw Mill”.
From this article members were able to discover new details about not only the fire but the ownership, use of and size of the mill at that
time and the usage of various rooms.
The difficulties of putting out a fire in a pre-motorised world were highlighted when a “mounted messenger was despatched to Keighley for
the fire brigade.” Both a manual and steam fire- engine were sent. These arrived two hours after the fire was discovered! Is it any wonder that the mill was destroyed?
The good news was that a “considerable portion of the machinery had been moved to new premises” the night before the fire. Also the
adjoining weaving sheds were saved. Members noted that the mill was insured and questions were immediately raised about how the fire started. One member, a textile specialist, questioned the reason given “spontaneous combustion of weft”. However, over one hundred years on, all our ideas and suspicions can only be conjecture.
Members quite rightly compared in their minds this article with present ones. Questions were therefore asked about the accuracy of the
facts contained here. Had the reporter ‘got it right’? Was the person giving the information accurate in what he or she said?
Members agreed that this was an interesting evening, in which all members present had been able to take part in a piece of research
that gave new historic information, as well as leaving time for chat, banter and of course a cup of tea!
The full newspaper article can be viewed above. Paper copies can be provided on request.
Below is an account from the Keighley News of December 3rd 1870.
About a quarter to five on Wednesday morning Gill Bottom Mill, Cowling, belonging to Mr. W. Gott, and occupied by Messrs J. Laycock & Co., manufacturers, was discovered to be on fire.
The news quickly spread through the scattered neighbourhood, and soon there were a large number of willing hands labouring with buckets of water to extinguish the flames. All their efforts proved of no avail.
This being so, a mounted messenger was despatched at about six o’clock to go to go to Keighley for the fire engines. When he started, a portion of the roof had just gone down; and at half-past six the whole of the roof went in with a tremendous crash. The flames rose up, and the heat resulting was intense, the floors of the mill (which were three storeys high) and being saturated with oil and grease collapsed.
The messenger arrived at Keighley at five minutes to seven the steam fire engine and one of the hand engines were despatched with the brigade at ten minutes past seven, and the drivers exerted themselves in a praiseworthy manner to get the engines in place.
When the brigade had arrived both the floors had gone down with all the machinery. The men had to direct their attention to the saving of adjacent property, and they were successful in doing so, and great praise was given to them for the energies they displayed.
The engines were kept at work till a little after ten o’clock. The mill was completely destroyed. The low room was used as a storing-room, and the upper room was filled with machinery.
It is supposed that the fire originated in a small room in front of the boiler used for storing of waste etc. from which room it made rapid progress. The damage is estimated at upwards of £4000, which is we are informed, covered by insurance.
Researcher D Harker, Word processed from original by N Binns.
Below is a photo list of some of the businesses that are no longer in Cowling.
Cowling Fruit N Veg Shop – Keighley Road. (2 photos)
Garside Butcher – Keighley Road / Walton Street. (2 photos)
Harlequin Restaurant – Keighley Road. (2 photos)
Mistri’s Newsagents – Keighley Road. (1 photo)
Paula’s Papers – Keighley Road. (1 photo)
Cowling Post Office – Keighley Road. (1 photo)
Royd Mill – Keighley Road. (1 photo)
Walter C Briggs – Keighley Road. (1 photo)
Cowling Dentist – Keighley Road. (1 photo)
If you have any old shop photographs that you would like to add to this list?
Please feel free to > Contact Us <
All photographs credited to Cowlingweb