Midgehole Dyeworks and Ivy House c1910
Photo courtesy Hebden Bridge Local History Society
Lower Midgehole Mill c1900, showing the dam between the mill and cottages
Photo courtesy of David Martin
There was a fulling mill at Rawholme slightly downstream of Midgehole, but this had gone out of use by the 16th century. However, by this time, another fulling mill was in use and the will of Richard Brigge of Old Town, proved in 155, mentions a fulling mill and lands at Wadsworth left to his son William.
William’s son Henry leased the mill to William Greenwood who bought Hyrst and other land from them in 1563. In 1579 William Brigge left his younger son Richard ‘a messuage and appertances called Telyson hey ‘including ‘a fulling mill on the Hepden.’
A deed of 1721 mentions ‘all that Raising mill and Fulling mill with a cottage, …and in the occupation of Thomas Parker’. In 1750 William Dewhirst was at the fulling mill and John Smith at the raising mill.
In 1791 Henry Cockcroft of Great Burlees was said to have been "enlarging and improving the ancient mill and millstead", and "for greater advantage in taking water out of the Hebden" was given liberty to fix the west end of the weir or damstones on lands belonging to William Sutcliffe of Lee. The new tenants included Laurence Moorhouse, a cotton spinner, James and Thomas Lee were fullers but Thomas Lee also used the mill for flax spinning.
By this time, another cotton mill had been built on Crimsworth Beck – exact site not known. John Sutcliffe told the Factory Commissioners in 1833 that children employed at his mill had "very easy work" and that too much was made of the subject of corporal punishment, as "no mills that I worked in had a tenth of the corporal punishment inflicted as is found in the best schools of the land".
The estate, including the newly built dyeworks and lower mill, was eventually acquired in 1861 by Worrals, a firm of dyers and finishers from Salford. Shortly after, land in Middle Dean was bought for expansion of the water supply; ‘ a series of water lodges constructed higher up the valley at Middle Dean, during the cotton panic of 1861-2, thus finding employment to many who would have been without. The system of long narrow storage dams in Bridge Clough can still be seen; from here water was piped to the dye works.
In the 1860s there was a boiler explosion causing serious injury, and a fire at Worrals, the dye works. By the 1880s the firm had improved safety and provided a cricket ground and reading rooms for employees. The lower mill was abandoned by 1908, when the waterwheel was still in place, but the dyeworks only closed in 2009.
From Fulling to Fustianopolis