Dale End Mill


Heritage Category: Listed Building

Grade: II*

List Entry Number: 1132272

Date first listed: 31-Oct-1988

Date of most recent amendment: 04-Nov-2015

Statutory Address: Dale End Mill, Dale End, Lothersdale, Keighley, BD20 8EN


Ordnance survey map of Dale End Mill
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Statutory Address: Dale End Mill, Dale End, Lothersdale, Keighley, BD20 8EN

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Craven (District Authority)

Parish: Lothersdale

National Grid Reference: SD9596445902


Small, rural, integrated textile mill converted from a corn mill in 1795 and extended in the mid C19. It retains an in situ water wheel that is reputed to have been the largest enclosed water wheel nationally.

Reasons for Designation

Dale End Mill, Lothersdale is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Industrial archaeology: for its mid-C19 water wheel, thought to have been the largest enclosed water wheel installed nationally, together with the survival of elements of its power system including gearing, line shafting and mountings which will allow an understanding of the mill's operation and development; * Completeness: as a remarkably complete example of a small, rural integrated textile mill, which not only retains its main mill buildings but also items such as the chimney, weaving shed and wheel house which are often lost to demolition with other mills; * Regional distinctiveness: a good example of a rural mill built according to local vernacular traditions, the structure of the buildings preserving a record of the way that the mill developed over time; * Historical: for the special interest that evidence preserved in the buildings can be combined with documentary and family history records to give a greater understanding of the development of the mill which (established 1795) was a reasonably early textile mill that, for the worsted industry, was also a reasonably early adopter of powered machinery.


There are C17 and C18 records of a water-powered corn mill in Lothersdale. In 1792 Thomas Parker, initially supported with funds from four partners, leased the corn mill and converted it to cotton spinning using Arkwright's water-frames. In 1835 the mill was re-tooled to switch from cotton spinning to worsted, probably using the self-acting mule, the first effective powered machine for worsted spinning which was only developed in the 1830s. The business passed to Parker's son-in-law, John Wilson who in 1842 installed a steam engine, (possibly a beam engine) supplied by Roberts of Nelson, to supplement water power in times of drought. Following the signing of a forty-year lease with the Earl of Burlington in 1850, the decision was taken to culvert the beck and to extend the mill, with Lord Burlington providing £800 for a new building for weaving. This possibly marks the point at which Dale End became an integrated mill, including the processes involved with preparing and dyeing wool, spinning and final weaving. A further investment around this time was the construction of a gas plant at the mill for gas lighting. These additions to the complex took place after the survey for the Ordnance Survey's 1:10,560 map published in 1853 which shows the mill as a north/south central block with short ranges extending west from the north end and east from the south end, being labelled Dale End Mill (Worsted and Cotton). John Wilson's son James married in 1856 and it is thought that his wife's dowry allowed further investment in the mill including the installation, in 1861, of a new, larger water wheel built by James Ellison of Eastburn Foundry, and the installation of a more powerful horizontal steam engine supplied by J Dixon along with an economiser, a new boiler and chimney. The new water wheel, being 44.5 feet in diameter, is thought to have been the largest enclosed water wheel built nationally, and is thought to have generated some 40 horse power (30kW). By 1859 the mill's turnover was £33,505, the mill specialising in producing complex worsted cloth weaves, designed by James Wilson who had spent his apprenticeship at a London fashion warehouse. In 1861 the mill is recorded as having 190 power looms for weaving as well as 1,700 spindles for spinning. It also included a Lister comb, a machine used for preparing long fibred wool prior to spinning. Assuming the power looms recorded in 1861 were looms that were installed when the mill was extended in 1850, this record indicates that Dale End was a relatively early adopter of powered worsted weaving. In the 1890s the freehold of the mill was sold for £800 to Fred Wilson, James' son, the conveyance being dated 6th December 1897. The last major addition to the complex was the parallel range added to the south of the western end of the west range, added sometime after the survey for the 1909 1:2500 Ordnance Survey map. Power for the mill was switched to electricity in 1932, with the water wheel allowed to idle until wear on the bearings caused it to come to a halt in 1983. In 1983 most of the mill complex was sold off and ceased production, although small scale textile weaving continued in the westernmost range of the mill.

In addition to the documentary history noted above, the mill buildings retain evidence of a complex constructional history. For instance the central north/south block appears to have been built in at least three stages: the southernmost four bays are interpreted as being the original C18 corn mill which was extended northwards, roughly doubling its size, probably around 1800; the final northern four bays being added shortly after 1850 when the beck was culverted. The interpretation that the southern part of the block was originally the C18 corn mill is partly based on the irregularity in the placement and sizing of windows in this part of the building in marked contrast to the very regular northern two thirds of the range. That the western east/west range was built in stages is even clearer: the eastern three bays are the earliest, probably circa 1800, originally being two storey, subsequently raised to three; the next two bays are a later addition which were only raised to three storeys after the addition of the westernmost two and a half storey section. This westernmost part of the range is thought to have been built no later than the early 1870s and includes the company office retaining its original mid-Victorian fittings. The site of the mill's gas plant is thought to have been at the western end of the complex, although because the mill has not been subjected to detailed archaeological building survey this is not certain. Similarly the position of the original water wheel is also currently uncertain, however the 1861 wheel remains in situ within its wheel house. In situ gearing also survives together with mountings for the horizontal steam engine installed with the water wheel. To the north west of the wheelhouse within the ground floor of the southernmost part of the central block, there are further mountings which are interpreted as relating to the 1842 steam engine. The later boiler plant lay in the south eastern part of the complex and evidence of two different boilers remain together with the in situ survival of a large part of an economiser (a heat exchanger designed to pre-heat boiler feed water using flue gasses before passing up the chimney). Elsewhere in the mill there are further remains of power transmission that will allow an understanding of the working of the mill and its historical development.

The construction date of the single storey weaving shed is uncertain. Although it has been suggested that this was built shortly after 1850, funded by Lord Burlington, this reference is considered to relate to the northernmost extension of the central block. The weaving shed is clearly later than this extension and is likely to be later than the installation of the 1861 steam engine because it impinges on the engine house windows. It was clearly built by the early 1890s as it is shown on the 1:2500 map published in 1894. It was most likely built in the 1860s when the mill prospered rather than after the mid-1870s reversal in its fortunes.

The design of the water wheel, using a combination of timber and wrought iron spokes, is similar to that of the original 1854 design of the Lady Isabella Wheel at Laxey on the Isle of Man, being a development on from the suspension wheel developed in 1805. Suspension wheels, like bicycle wheels, have spokes under tension, whereas the Dale End Mill wheel has a combination of tension and compression spokes. The water wheel is also believed to be a good illustration of Victorian engineering because it is thought to have been designed to work in tandem with the associated steam engine to produce a very smooth power supply, the steam engine and wheel acting to regulate each other.


Former integrated textile mill, converted to cotton spinning from corn milling 1795, converted to worsted spinning 1835 and weaving 1850, with mid C19 and later additions.

MATERIALS: mainly local rubble stone with stone slate roofs with some sections of roof with later glazing.

LAYOUT: the north/south three storey range is central to the complex: its southern four bays probably originally being the C18 corn mill. Extending west from the centre of this range is a multi-phased east/west two-three storey range including the mill's office. Extending to the east of the southern end of the central range is a three storey range with a mono pitch roof, the ground floor being an engine house. To the north is a single storey, five-bay north-light weaving shed; to the south is the water wheel house; to the east is a single storey former boiler house, the chimney and economiser being in the far south eastern corner of the complex.

EXTERIOR: Central Block: this is of three storeys and 12 or 13 bays. Windows have plain surrounds with simple stone lintels and sills, generally with replaced joinery, the openings are very regular in the northern two thirds of the range, but less so in the southern third (that part thought to have originally been the C18 corn mill). Ground floor windows, now opening into the weaving shed to the east, may retain original joinery being small paned. There is a large arched cart entrance at the southern end of the west elevation (now blocked) which is thought to be an original feature. The similar archway at the northern end of the elevation is modern. A small gabled-roof turret is attached to the northern gable, this having quoins and round-arched lancet windows formed with dressed stone. A more simply detailed turret, once attached to the west elevation towards the southern end, has been removed. There is a ridge stack at the southern gable and the ridge of the northern gable is finished with a small bellcote similar in appearance to a chimney stack. Towards the centre of the ridge there is a small roof ventilator with a pyramidal cap.

West Range: this divides into three sections extending east to west: the first section, abutting the central block, is of three bays and is shallow in depth. Quoining to the west indicates that it was originally of two storeys, but was raised to three, the floor levels all being slightly lower than those of the central block. Openings to the lower two floors are slightly irregular and include a doorway to the north elevation with monolithic jambs and lintel. The top floor windows are very regular. The next section is also now of three storeys, with evidence that it was originally lower. This is of two bays, but is of greater depth, extending further to the south. The north elevation includes an enlarged window using a girder for a lintel. The lower windows to the south elevation, below a C20 steel balcony, are unaltered and retain original joinery with small paned windows. The western section is of similar depth, but lower, being of two storeys with a low attic. It is of four bays with a near central, domestic style doorway with two windows to each floor to the east and a large modern vehicle entrance to the west. The west gable has a tall, round-arched lower window with a small attic window offset above. The southern side of this section is extended with a parallel, two storey range which is steel framed but stone clad. Between this building and the central block there are the remains of further outbuildings.

East Range: this is of two storeys with attic and a north facing single-pitched roof. A pair of tall, round arched windows with original joinery light the ground floor, but now look into the attached single storey weaving shed. Upper windows are similar to those of the central block. Attached to the south elevation, which is blind, is the waterwheel house with its triple-pitched roof and its iron plate launder linking to the mill pond to the south west, whilst attached to the east is a single storey building, formerly a boiler house and mechanics' workshop.

Weaving Shed: this is a five bay north-light, single storey building which extends out from the central block and the east range. Its east and north walls are of higher quality than the rest of the mill buildings, being of coursed, squared stonework. The east wall is raised and coped, stepping up for each of the ridges to the roof. At the north west corner there is a short cross wing with a circular window set high in the raised and coped gable. The weaving shed roof retains a number of timber roof vents similar to that surviving on the central block's roof.

Chimney and Economiser: the chimney survives to full height, recorded as 90 feet (27.5m). It is square in plan, built of squared, coursed masonry with metal strapping and a moulded stone cap. At the base of the chimney are remains of an economiser consisting of a block of metal pipes partly contained in a ruined brick enclosure that has been capped off with concrete.

INTERIOR Central Block: the stone-built partition walls within the northern end of the building are modern. The stone staircase between the ground and first floor near the centre of the building is considered to be an original feature. In the southern end of the building, possibly extending into the east range, there are mountings and substantial stone walling interpreted as being related to the steam engine installed in 1842. The roof structure demonstrates that the northern four bays are later than the rest of the building. Although all of the trusses are queen post trusses, those of the northern four bays incorporate some ironwork and support back purlins, whereas most of the trusses are earlier in form, being traditionally jointed and pegged, supporting through purlins.

West Range: this includes the company office, lit by the two first floor windows of the westernmost section of the range, which retains its original mid-Victorian joinery and fittings including a fireplace as well as an internal window allowing a view of the adjacent workroom.

East Range: On the ground floor, lit by the round arch windows to the north elevation, are the mountings for the horizontal steam engine installed in 1861. This room also retains gearing, line shafting and other remains of the power transmission system. Further evidence of the power system survives on the upper floors.

Water Wheel House: the 1861 water wheel survives in situ, but in deteriorating condition. This is 44.5 feet in diameter and 5 feet wide (13.5m by 1.5m), being a pitch back wheel turned by a 40 feet head of water to power a rim drive. The wheel has alternating timber and wrought iron spokes, the iron spokes crossing from the hub flange to the opposite rim flange (this is believed to have provided lateral stability). At least some of the spokes are later replacements, and a number are broken. The wheel's two rims are original cast iron, being linked by oak boards with outer metal plates forming around 140-160 buckets, each of about 25 gallon capacity, the metal plates being late C20 replacements. The rim is toothed to facilitate the power take off to a spur wheel linked via an axle to further gearing which survives within the ground floor of the east range. Within the wheel house there is also the header tank and mechanism for controlling the flow of water onto the wheel. The wheel pit is lined with cast iron plates designed to retain the water in the buckets for as long as possible, with the tail race extending ESE for some 0.25km before joining the beck.

Weaving Shed: this has a timber roof structure incorporating iron bracing, all supported on slim iron pillars which incorporate mountings for power transmission. Stone and blockwork partitions within the south western and north eastern parts of the shed are modern.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 324457

Legacy System: LBS


Books and journals
Wilson, K, The History of Lothersdale, (1972)

End of official listing