Jowler Mill


The early textile trade relied on domestic outworking.Handloom weavers would take the yarn to theircottage loom shops, and return the completed fabric to the mill. Reliable power looms that could be worked from an overhead line shaft were not available before Kenworthy and Bulloughs weft stop motion, the roller temple and the loose reed which appeared in the 1840s.[2] The first weaving floors were on the ground floor of the existing narrow mills, where the workpiece was lit by tall exterior windows. The weaving shed appeared around this time. They initially adjoined existing mills, and then were built as standalone mills by speculating investors or byindustrial co-operatives of former handloom weavers. Either group would run the looms themselves or operate the shed as a room and power mill. Here as the name suggests, space was rented to other companies who could specialise in weaving with out the skills needed to finance, build and maintain a building.[3] Weaving sheds were cheap to build and fireproof having no wooden beams. They were also safer, because their north-facing roof windows meant they were not as dependent on gas-lighting as were spinning mills.


The purpose of a weaving shed was to provide spaces for rows and rows of identical looms. A standard shed would house 1200 looms, and it was common to think in multiples of 400 looms. These looms would be tentered by weavers who worked from four to eight looms each[4] and were paid onpiece-rate. The looms would be maintained by a skilled tackler who would be on hand to gait the looms and effect instant repairs or adjustments. There would be four tacklers for 400 looms.[4] The looms were powered by leather belts from overhead cross-shafts, on bevel gears from the line shaft that ran the length of the shed.[5]

Attached to the weaving shed in a typical mill would be a boiler house where the steam was raised,[6] an engine room housing a stationary steam engine[7]and a two or three storey building where the preparatory processes were done below and above would be the warehouse. This also housed the offices. Weaving was not possible without a continuous supply of weft on pirns, and beams carrying the warp. Starting with the warp, it had to bewarped from creels of thread, in a multistage process onto the weavers’ beam. This could be done in the mill or the warp could be bought in and delivered on the tapers beam. The beam of thread had to be sized in a tape sizing machine by sizers.[8]

Each thread had to pass through the correct eye in the heddle, and through the reed. This was done on adrawing-in frame by loomers.[9] The beam, heddles and reed would be carried through into the weaving-shed and gaited to the loom by the tackler.s [10] Thepirns used for the weft in the shuttles were wound by a pirner, on a pirning machine [11] in the shed or be bought shuttle ready from the spinners.[4] The completed pieces would be cut off the loom, (it was on a takeup beam), and this left the shed to go back to the warehouse where it would be examined for faults by the cloth looker, and if it was of satisfactory quality, folded and forwarded to the client.[4] Thepayroll and paper work was done by office staff.[12]


The weaving sheds were simple working industrial buildings and the external materials generally used in their construction are robust and there was little in the way of ornamentation. External walls were generally in coursed rubble stone or brick. The few openings or windows were in simple detailed timber joinery. Internal materials comprised stone flagfloors, exposed cast iron structure, timber joinery and boarded partitions and lime plaster on lath soffits to the south facing roof slopes. The sheds were often built into the hillside so the wall would benefit from contact with damp earth that would maintain themoisture levels in the shed required by cotton weaving.[13]

The shed would be modular using a 3m by 6m bay, the beams of the roof being supported by cast iron columns. The ground to beam clearance was 3.5m and the ground to ridge height was 4.6m. Later sheds used a longitudinal beam under the gutter beam eliminating the need for a row of columns,[14] creating a 6m by 6m lattice. The modular nature enable sheds to infill on irregularly shaped sites[15]

The north light roofs to the majority of weaving sheds were constructed with simple 30 degree pitched roofs, comprising a simple structure of common rafters with slate roof coverings facing south and glazed lights to the north.[16] The cast iron beamsthat support these rows of north lights are ingeniously designed as inverted channel sections such that they both carry the load of the roofs and act as rainwater gutters. The rainwater would exit to identical drainpipes on the east and west exterior walls.

The gutter beams were laid flat with joints aligned over column heads. The end of each gutter section has an external flange enabling sections to be bolted together over a bracket to the head of the column. The brackets were designed to collect any resulting leak at the joint and channelled it down the inside of the hollow columns. [13] Cast iron tie rods running from the columnheads, at right angles to the gutterbeams, gave lateral rigidity. The columns were the mounting points for the lineshaft bearings.


Saturday 22 March 1884  Yorkshire Post


Early yesterday morning Jowler Mill, near Halifax, was destroyed by fire. The premises, which consisted of three storeys and attic, were owned by Jonathan Bracken A Sons, and occupied by Mr Joseph Baldwin, worsted spinner. The fire was discovered about two o’clock by a person living in adjoining cottage, jtir Baldwin was apprised of the fact, and at once messengers for the fire engines at Sowerby Bridge and Halifax, but assistance arrived before the mill was burnt to the ground. Mr Baldwin’s damage is estimated £4500, and the owners’ £2500. Both firms covered insurance.


Thursday 14 November 1901  Yorkshire Post


A meeting the creditors of John Bradley Robinson. silk dresser, of Jowler Mill*. Warley, Halifax, was held Official Receiver’s Rooms, Halifax, yesterday. The Matemcm affair* showed liabilities £792 16s. 7d.. and asseta £lB4 12s. In <b« causes of failure alleged by the debtor, etates that Messrs. Jobu lladwen and Sons, silk spinners; Triangle, undertook to supply <o him per week a certain quantity cf silk dressing, but their actual supply fed short of that promise tho extent of 2001b. per week, and also state* that, hia couneotion with Messrs. Hathven practically precluded him from obtaining work from other silk spinner*. ‘Pite Official Receiver, in bia observations, elates that debtor was formerly partner the firm of James llobiuson end Sons, Hniifax, eilk spinners, who filed their petition in the Halifax Court the January. 1897 Debtor obtained lm discharge 1887, and commenced the presout business July 1. 1888, with a capital £29 provided by hia wife and £350 borrowed from various parties. The debtor has not kept a book, but only wage and commission account book. The Official Receiver adds:—“He appears to have prepared a balance-sheet in July, 1900, which abowed a deficiency of £53 11s. fid.” The estate was left in the bands the Official Receiver.


Jonathan Bracken lived from 1772 to 1855 and Holme House Mill in 1812. It was rebuilt after fire in 1884 and called Jowler Mill. He was a cotton spinner in the 1837 census, a paper maker at Dean Mill, Midgley in 1841, a retired paper maker & farmer of 15 acres in 1851. He had businesses at 17 Cow Green, Halifax and at Dean Mill, Luddenden. He established the paper-manufacturing business of Jonathan Bracken & Sons. In 1797, he married Grace of Warley, daughter of Samuel Appleyard, at Halifax Parish Church. Most of his 10 children were baptised at Booth Independent Church. The family lived at Dean Mill, Midgley, 1803, 1841, 1851, Cow Green, Halifax, 1834, 1837, 1841, 1 Dean Mill, Midgley in 1861. Living with the family in 1851 at Dean Mill, Midgley were nephew Lancelot Bracken aged 36 (paper maker’s bookkeeper), grandson James Hirst and visitor William C. Williamson aged 25 (gentleman). Living with Mary – head of the household – in 1861 were widowed aunt Sarah Whitworth aged 80 (railway proprietor), and daughter Grace and family. Members of the family were buried at Booth Independent Church with infant granddaughter Sarah Nightingale. See Bracken Folly, Midgley Moor, Cold Edge Dam Company, Jowler Mill, Luddenden and Vicarage Mill, Luddenden

John Garnett was at Jowler Mill from 1818 to 18??. He was a worsted spinner or wire drawer at Jowler Mill, Luddenden in 1818. He was a member of the Luddenden Reading Society. He had 2 children and lived at Holme House, Warley

Jonathan Garnett was at Jowler Mill from 1827 to 1839

Hoyle & Greenwood [1864]

Hoyle & GreenwoodWorsted spinners and manufacturers at Holme House Mill, Warley. Partners included Thomas Hoyle and James Greenwood. The partnership was dissolved on 16th April 1864.

Greenwood, James[18??-18??] He was a partner in Hoyle & Greenwood. He lived at Carr House, Midgley.

Hoyle, Thomas. [1819-1866]

Born in Wadsworth. He was a worsted manufacturer; a partner in Hoyle & Greenwood [1864]

The partnership was dissolved on 16th April 1864. He established Thomas Hoyle & Sons. He married (1) Mary [1818-1854].


Eliza [1845-1903] who married George Henry Webster
He married (2) Sarah Ashworth.


Jane [1857-1931] who married Arthur Walker
The family lived at Holme House, Warley [1860s]. He died at Holme House [25th November 1866]. After his death, sons John & Thomas headed the business.

Thomas Hoyle & Son [1871-1877]

Hoyle’s: Thomas Hoyle & Sons LimitedWorsted spinners.

Established by Thomas Hoyle and his sons John and Thomas. After the death of Thomas (snr), sons John & Thomas headed the business. They employed 20 men, 28 women, 12 boys & 10 girls [1861] and 162 hands [1871]. They were at Holme House Mill, Luddendenfoot [1871-1877], Green Lane, Halifax [1881], Ellen Royd Mills, Halifax [1893-1927], and Copley Mills [1932-1960]. Between 1871-1877, they were also at Charles Street, Bradford. In 1960, Hoyle’s was bought by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Tulketh Group. See Thomas Ashworth Hoyle.

Hoyle, John[1842-1915] Son of Thomas Hoyle. After the death of their father [1866], he and his brother Thomas headed the family business – Thomas Hoyle & Sons Limited. Both retired with the sale of the business [18??]. John became a director at Samuel Webster’s. He was a serving board member [1890]. He never married. He lived at Beech Grove, Halifax. He died at Beech Grove [13th March 1915]. Probate records show that he left an estate valued at £88,220 4/-.

Hoyle, Thomas[1859-1930] Son of Thomas Hoyle. After the death of their father [1866], he and his brother John headed the family business – Thomas Hoyle & Sons Limited. Both retired with the sale of the business [18??]. He lived at Savile Royd, Halifax [1914]. He died at Savile Royd [16th January 1930]. Probate records show that he left an estate valued at £179,154 2/10d. See Harold Green.

In 1933, the engine was converted to a turbine. The Mill used water fed from the Cold Edge Dams by a goit which ran along the hillside.


Holme House Mill c1850 before the fire in 1884 which destroyed the rear buildings in this photo leaving the foreground building now called Jowler Mill

Holme House Mill Jowler Mill pre 1884 fire

Holme House (Bridge) Mill, Booth, where water power was in use until 1941. The mill had been owned by the Ogden family since 1769

Holme House Mill

Holme House Mill David Greaves

Holme House Mill 1920;s David Bland

Holme House Mill Water Wheel

Holme House Bridge Mill

The grave of 7 orphan girls that were rescued from the workhouses of Liverpool only to die prematurely in the employment of the Luddenden Dean mills and buried in the Wesleyan churchyard at Wainstalls


1842 Ordinance Survey Map of Jowler showing the previous mill building

OS Map 1851

1894 Ordinance Survey Map of Area showing current mill building

1894 OS Map

Green Fears Delays Mill Pond Repair 2007

Halifax Courier 10 January 2007

GREEN worries have been blamed for delaying the £220,000 renovation of a dangerous mill pond.
Repair and landscaping work was due to start on the lower dam at Jowler Mill, Luddenden, last May after it threatened to burst.
But council bosses spearheading the scheme claim that pressure from environmental campaigners forced them back to the drawing board.
Homes were evacuated in 2005 when the dam almost collapsed and flooded 50 houses further down the valley. Engineers were drafted in but Calderdale Council is still regularly spending thousands of pounds to pump water out of the pond, angering locals.
Dick Stephenson, of the Hullit, who lives near the dam, said: “It annoys me when the council are hiking their parking charges and complaining about having no money, yet down at the mill they are pumping it out at huge expense.
“They said they were going to start last year. If they don’t do it this summer it will cost even more money. And I am not sure about their consultation – I live just up the road and I have heard nothing. It has been nearly two years since this problem started.”
Peter Coles (Lib Dem, Luddenden Foot) said: “It is time they got on with it. Safety should be the main concern and work should be done as soon as possible.
“They did good work when the problem was discovered but since then they haven’t done anything at all.”
Council spokesman David Calderwood confirmed that work would start in the spring and could take up to a year to complete.
“We regularly monitor the site and there is no imminent danger,” he said. “We are looking at making progress in the spring and sum-mer.
“The delay was because we revised the plans after consulting local environmental groups, including the Luddenden Conservation Society. Firstly they wanted to ensure it was in keeping with the local environment and to retain some form of pond for wildlife.
“It is best to get it right and so the work was delayed.”
The council was forced to step in when the dam’s owners could not be traced. The mystery stretches back over 100 years.
Henry Boardall, of Bluebell Walk, Luddenden, claims his grandfather bought Jowler Mill from paper manufacturers Brackens in the early 1900s but the lower dam was not part of the package.
“I’d always been told it had been bequeathed by the previous owner to the Soil Association before the mill was sold to my grandfather,” he said.
The mill was sold by Mr Boardall in 1982 and turned into homes.