Billhead, Thomas Cockcroft, 1855
Hebden Bridge Local History Society
The origins of this mill go back to a medieval monastic corn mill within the township of Heptonstall and was situated where Waterside Fold is now.. This formed part of lands in the tenure of Lewes Priory, one of the wealthiest Cluniac monasteries in the country. The earliest reference to the mill occurs in a deed sealed at Lewes in 1314, in which the Prior John Montmartin made an agreement with Sir John de Thornhill, Lord of the manor of Wadsworth, each allowing the other to build weirs across the river which formed the border of each township.
There are fewer references to mills in the late 14th century because of the impact of the black death, but in 1382 the account roll of Roger de Fryston who was the proctor of the Priory gives Roger de Milner as holding the Heptonstall mill for a rental of 36/-.
In 1586 Ambrose Robertshaw, took out suit and soke of the mill of all the tenants within the manor of Heptonstall. By this time the monopoly was probably widely evaded, but there were still attempts to stop people using another mill. In May 1586 John Sunderland was fined for not using the Lord’s mill, ‘he does not come to the Lord’s mill with his corn to grind as he is enjoined.’
In the 17th century the mill came into the ownership of the Cockcroft family - the beginning of a long association. When William Cockcroft died in 1773 his estate was divided between his four daughters, and ‘Hangangroid Mill with cottages, gardens, orchards, meadows, dams, goits and weirs’ was left to his daughter Barbara. Corn milling continued; the census returns give William Fox as the miller in 1841 and Henry Clayton in 1851.
By 1857 the mill was being run by Thomas Barker, a fustian manufacturer and dyer, and from this time the mill was used for producing fustian cloth. In the 1860s the mill was run by a partnership of Clay, Cockcroft and Barker. In 1871 a new weaving shed, dye works, engine and boiler house were added, and ‘subterraneous tunnels’ replaced earlier tail goits.
In 1899 the land along the Hebden known as Jack Taylor’s garden was sold, and many new buildings went up in the area. In the 1920s the central part of R. B. Brown’s clothing factory was said to have been the original Hangingroyd corn mill.
During negotiations for the transfer of ownership of the mill a London solicitor wrote to the local vendor, "Please enlighten us southerners on the meaning of the following words, goit, tail goit and clows." The reply was as follows: "A goit is a watercourse leading from the river to the mill and was originally used for the purpose of supplying water to the mill wheel. A tail goit is a watercourse from the mill to discharge water lower down the river. A clow is a vertical valve to control the flow of water to and from the goit." From the History of Acre Mill by Clement Smith
During the Second World War the mill was requisitioned by the army, and some soldiers billeted here stayed in the area after the end of the war, and worked for Cape Asbestos who bought Hangingroyd Mill in 1949.
The mill was demolished in the 1970s.
From Fulling to Fustianopolis