Holmes Mill, Clitheroe


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Holmes Mill, Greenacre Street, Clitheroe, BB7 1EB


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Statutory Address:
Holmes Mill, Greenacre Street, Clitheroe, BB7 1EB

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

Ribble Valley (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


A textile mill built in the 1820s and extended during the 1830s with later C19 additions.

Reasons for Designation

Holmes Mill, a pre-1840 textile mill with later additions is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: Holmes Mill, with its three- and four-storey spinning blocks and warehouse, has architectural interest and makes a significant contribution to the local townscape; * Date threshold: much of the Holmes Mill complex is largely unaltered and is recognisably of pre-1840 date; * Intactness: despite the loss of the weaving shed roof Holmes Mill remains a relatively intact textile mill complex complete with an in-situ 1910-built engine; * Integrated site: the mill complex comprises a range of buildings relating to the textile manufacturing process. This includes spinning blocks and engine houses of differing dates that afford the opportunity to study the evolutionary development of these specific building types.


Holmes Mill was established in about 1823 when the first multi-storey spinning block and size house was built on the site by John Taylor. A second spinning block, known as New Mill, was erected in about 1830 by Edmund, John & James Mercer & David Murray, who purchased the original mill and incorporated the two spinning blocks into a single manufacturing complex. In 1848 a four-storey office and warehouse extension was added to the east end of the c.1823 spinning block and size house. A weaving shed was added to the north of the New Mill in 1853, by which time the mill complex housed 16,000 mule spindles and 707 looms and was powered by at least two beam engines. A gatehouse was added between 1847 and 1886. Clitheroe Manufacturing Company Limited took over production in 1884 and by 1887 577 looms, weaving printers and shirtings were in operation powered by a beam engine aided by a 24" x 3' stroke horizontal engine. Shortly after Clitheroe Manufacturing Company's takeover the original 1820s block was stripped of machinery and later used as Clitheroe Technical School up until 1916. In 1905 New Mill and its associated buildings was sold to Henry Parkinson who furnished it with 496 looms and leased it to James Thornber. New boiler and engine houses were erected in 1910/11. At this time the beam engine was replaced with a Clayton, Goodfellow & Company cross-compound horizontal engine which remains in situ. In 1939 the original 1820s block was reopened by Norman Roberts for yarn doubling. In recent years the 1905 boiler house has had its Lancashire boilers removed and the building converted into a warehouse, the 1853 weaving shed has been largely rebuilt, re-roofed and its north lights and early machinery removed, and the original 1820s block has gone out of use. Part of the complex remains in use as a weaving mill.


PLAN: the mill is sub-rectangular in plan with a yard along the east side of the complex and most buildings lying to the west of the yard. From south to north these buildings consist of the 1820s spinning block and size house, a 1910 boiler house with an earlier single-storey building and the mill chimney to its rear, a 1910 engine house, an1830s beam engine house with the New Mill spinning block to its rear, and the partially rebuilt 1850s weaving shed. There is a single-storey gatehouse on the east side of the yard opposite the 1820s block.

MATERIALS: a cotton spinning mill built in the early 1820s and extended in the early 1830s, 1840s and again in the 1850s by the addition of a weaving shed. It is built predominantly of random limestone rubble with sandstone dressings beneath pitched slate roofs, architect unknown.

EXTERIOR: 1820s Spinning Block and Size House: a three-storey block of 16 bays with a latrine turret on the west gable. Windows have nine panes throughout the block and there are pedestrian entrances on both the north and south elevations. A three-storey two-bay outshot attached to the block's north elevation has loading doors and a winch on its east elevation and blocked upper-storey windows on its west elevation. Attached to the east end of the main block is a four-storey office and warehouse extension of 1848 one bay wide with four bays to its gable end. Windows are largely of nine panes and there are loading doors to all upper floors. Internally the building reportedly has columns of fluted late-Georgian design.

1910 Boiler House: a single-storey building with timber and glass doors to its east elevation above which is a narrow window. The south elevation is of coursed rock-faced limestone with windows of four panes. The rear gable is of snecked limestone and has a pedestrian door and flue connections. Attached to the rear of the boiler house is a lower single-storey range building with roof lights running its full length. There is a blocked pedestrian door from the street in its west gable end.

1910 Engine House: a single-storey building with timber doors beneath a fanlight to its east elevation and roof lights along its length. The building has been truncated at its west end by a brick wall within which is a blocked arched doorway. Internally the engine house is reported to retain the Clayton, Goodfellow & Company cross-compound horizontal engine of 1910/11.

1830s Spinning Block and Beam Engine House: a three-story plus attic block of 13 bays with windows largely of five panes to the long elevations. The west gable end has four-pane windows to each floor and one eight-pane window to the second floor and a metal fire escape between the second and first floors. Internally the spinning block reportedly incorporates later cylindrical designed columns without lineshaft bearing faces, but supporting beams with clear line shaft hanger positions and some shafting still survives in places. The mill chimney projects through the roof of the later boiler house. Now truncated slightly the circular chimney has a stone-built lower half and brick-built upper half with a number of metal strap bands.

The former beam engine house is attached to the east of this block, has a hipped roof, and stands slightly taller than the spinning block. It is one bay wide and has a wide recessed door beneath a tall round-arched window at its east end.

To the right of the former beam engine house there is a recessed doorway and loading bay. 1850s Weaving Shed: is a large single-storey building; while it retains its historic scale, it has been largely rebuilt and re-roofed in the latter quarter of the C20. Its west wall retains unusual triangular vents with gothic detailing externally.

The Gatehouse: is a single-storey range beneath a pitched roof. It is rendered throughout. There is a door in the west elevation and windows are of differing sizes and styles.

INTERIOR: although no internal inspection took place additional information provided by an interested party indicates that the 1820s spinning block contains fluted columns of late-Georgian design without provision for lineshafts, and beams without bolted hangers for drive shafting. The 1830s block is reported to have cylindrical designed columns without lineshaft bearing faces, but supporting beams with clear line shaft hanger positions and some shafting still in situ. The 1910 engine house reportedly retains its original wall stencilling above the dado. The engine is a Blackburn-built Clayton, Goodfellow & Co. Ltd horizontal cross-compound type Nos 544-5 built in 1910. Its specifications are:

Cylinders: 15ins/30ins x 36ins Corliss valves (Craig's valve gear-governor-controlled trip gear) (HP); slide valve (LP) Steam pressure: c.70psi (1971) 68 rpm, c.350IHP(max), Flywheel: 12ft 6in.

Two unusual features of the engine are a rope guide near the second motion wheel installed to prevent the driving ropes jumping grooves in the event of surging, and a feed pump on the LP slide valve rod. The engine retains much of its original paintwork and lining out.


Books and journals
Hartwell, C, Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Lancashire North, (2009)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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