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Nutclough Mill

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Nutclough Mill 1873. Hebden Bridge Local History Society

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This mill was built in 1797 and stood in the Kiln Brink and was described as suitable for spinning cotton or other wool. In the first part of the 19th century it was used as a cotton spinning mill, and a number of firms worked here.

In the second part of the century the mill became very well known as the home of the Fustian co-op, described by Fabian socialist Beatrice Potter as the most brilliant example of producer co-operation.

This was founded at a time when firms of dyers and finishers were taking over fustian cutting, which was still a hand craft, but meant that fustian cutters were losing their independence. A group of local fustian cutters, including Joseph Greenwood and James Moss were keen to start a cooperative workshop, becoming first signatories of the rules of the Hebden Bridge Fustian Manufacturing Society registered in 1870. The Manchester Co-operative Congress had taken place shortly before this, and this influenced Greenwood and others who were already supporters of the principle of profits to labour. Having set up their first workshop in Crown Street, they were very active in persuading cooperative stores in the valley to give them orders.

When the Nutclough estate was for sale in 1873, it was sold for £5,650 to the Fustian Society, who raised a loan from the Wholesale Society. Joseph Greenwood became first secretary and then manager of the mill moving to Nutclough House. In 1874 they were employing 36 woman and 18 men. The ground floor was used for dyeing and finishing and the first floor for garment making.

In the 1880s Nutclough expanded from a small mill into one of the larger mills in Hebden Bridge. With new weaving sheds, more steam power was needed and an new steam engine was acquired and named Thomas Hughes. Hughes was one of a group of Christian Socialists who supported Nutclough and the engine was named after him. The Co-operative had an enormous influence in the rapidly growing town, but its significance was recognised far beyond the local area. Thousands attended an exhibition in 1889 and the 21st anniversary was a great celebration.

There was another outlay on a more efficient steam engine in 1916, with rope drive and provision for driving future extensions by electricity. This engine was made by Wood and Bros. of Sowerby Bridge and was named Unity.

By this time the Society was largely owned and controlled by the Co-operative stores and private shareholders, and in 1919 the CWS (Cooperative Wholesale Society) became the sole owners and the 300 worker shareholders received £2 per £1 share. CWS ran the mill until all work was transferred to Hebden Works in 1967, and the mill converted to small industrial units.

Water from the reservoir in Ibbot Royd Clough was supplied to the works through a tunnel under the Keighley road.