Waterside House


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
7 Water Street, Rochdale, OL16 1TL


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Statutory Address:
7 Water Street, Rochdale, OL16 1TL

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

Rochdale (Metropolitan Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Engine house and mill warehouse. The engine house was built in the late 1820s, the warehouse was built in two main phases; one before 1844, when the engine house was also heightened; and one between 1851 and 1872. The engine house and warehouse were re-fronted in 1872.

Reasons for Designation

Waterside House, an engine house and mill warehouse of C19 date, being the surviving elements of Water Street Mill, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest: * an early surviving engine house for a steam-powered beam engine in a woollen mill context;

* a well-detailed decorative façade added to the warehouse and engine house in 1872, illustrating in the fabric of the building the importance of outward display in attracting potential customers.

Historic interest: * representing the forward-thinking investment of a progressive mill owner, Water Street Mill was one of the earliest steam-powered woollen mills in the area at the time when water-power remained commonplace;

* as the last surviving remnant of a mill structure in central Rochdale.


Waterside House is the engine house and warehouse range of Water Street Mill, an early steam-powered woollen mill. The mill and engine house were built in the late 1820s and the warehouse was built in two main phases in the mid-to later-C19.

Water Street Mill was built by the firm of William Chadwick, one of Rochdale’s largest woollen manufacturers of the early C19. The site was empty on an 1824 map of Rochdale (in Baines’ History, Directory and Gazetteer of Lancashire, published in 1825, surveyed by William Swires), but the mill and engine house are shown on a map of 1831 (Plan of Rochdale, John Wood). The external engine house was attached to the east end of the mill. It was originally of about two storeys and did not extend across the full width of the mill, though its south end projected slightly beyond the front elevation; the long, narrow plan is typical for an early-C19 beam engine house.

Chadwick’s appears to have been a progressive firm, being one of the first woollen mills in the area to be built for steam power when water power remained commonplace. In 1829 it became the focus of unrest, when rioting handloom weavers broke into the mill to remove shuttles (anecdotal account in the Rochdale Observer, 24 January 1979). The weavers were protesting about the local introduction of power looms and the corresponding reduction in wages. In 1833 William Chadwick stated his firm employed around 200 people, half under the age of 18 and was one of only two woollen mills in the district to depend entirely on steam power (report on the Employment of Children in Factories; quoted in AP Wadsworth, 1937 'The early factory system in the Rochdale district', Transactions of the Rochdale Literary & Scientific Society, volume 19, 151-152. NB Chadwick’s evidence does not name Water Street Mill but is assumed to refer to the site; the Chadwick family also occupied other local mills).

The five western bays of the ten-bay warehouse, which incorporate the arched gateway which was the main entrance to the site, is shown on the tithe map of 1844. It included an additional storey added in brick above the stone engine house. The five deeper eastern bays were added sometime between 1851 and 1872.

In the mid-C19 the mill was used for a combination of wool and cotton production, reflecting the general development of the industry in Rochdale at that time. It was owned by the Chadwick family until around 1870, when the buildings and machinery were put up for auction. The sale notice indicates that it was powered by two engines and contained machinery for preparation and spinning, but not weaving (advert in the Rochdale Pilot, 23 April 1870). By 1872 it was occupied by George Ashworth, flannel manufacturer. In 1872 a new decorative front was built to both phases of the warehouse and the engine house with Italianate and Gothic details. The initials of George Ashworth & Sons (GAS) appear over the office doorway.

At some point in the 1880s the site was renamed Central Mills and taken over by Edwin Hall, another flannel manufacturer, who remained on the site until at least 1894 (Denson and Mills Directory 1888, 61). It was named Central Mill (Woollen) on the 1:500 Ordnance Survey town plan of 1892.

In the C20 the site was occupied by a variety of small firms not connected with textiles. The main range of the mill was demolished following a fire in 1979 (Rochdale Observer, 6 January 1979). The mill wing, which had projected northwards from the main range, was demolished around 1986.


Engine house and mill warehouse. The engine house was built in the late 1820s, the warehouse was built in two main phases; one before 1844, when the engine house was also heightened; one between 1851 and 1872. The engine house and warehouse were re-fronted in 1872.

MATERIALS: orange brick and sandstone with sandstone dressings and slate roofs.

PLAN: the engine house is now (2020) three storeys (originally two) with the attached warehouse to the east. The warehouse is three storeys to the front elevation and four to the rear, where the land falls. The five easternmost bays of the warehouse project at an angle to the rear, bordering the River Roch.

EXTERIOR: the building stands on the north side of Water Street and is partly bounded by the River Roch on its north side. The warehouse is built of brick (English garden wall bond 5:1) and the engine house was originally built of coursed, sandstone blocks, heightened in brick, the whole building re-fronted in orange brick (English garden wall bond 3:1) with stone to part of the engine house. It is roofed with four parallel hipped roofs running front to rear.

The front elevation faces south onto Water Street and is of three storeys and ten bays at second-floor level. It is faced in orange brick, which wraps a short distance round each outer corner, with a stone plinth and stone coping with a frieze of brick pendants beneath. There are decorative rectangular stone finials mounted on the coping at the outer corners and either side of the taking in doors in the seventh bay. The windows are of two panes with timber frames.

The single-bay engine house is to the far left, adjoining the round-headed cart entrance. It is fronted in rusticated ashlar stone blocks to half-way up first-floor level where there is a projecting stone band. At ground-floor level is an opening framed by a timber front of pilasters and an entablature (in-filled with modern brickwork and a metal roller blind). Immediately above is a round-headed window. To the right is a large, round-headed cart entrance. The left jamb is formed of the stone facing to the engine house and the right jamb is stone at a lower level with brick above. The arch has alternating stone voussoirs. There is a multi-paned glazed light to the arch head set on a recessed lintel. Within the passageway through the building, the left-hand, engine house wall is formed of watershot masonry and includes a large ashlar block which may have supported the entablature of a beam engine. The right-hand warehouse wall is of brick.

The warehouse windows have stone sill bands and those on the ground and first floor also have stone impost bands. The windows on the ground floor are round-headed with moulded, arched stone heads with voussoirs of alternating coloured stone. To the right of the archway in the fourth and fifth bays is the former office entrance. It has a round-headed doorway with a paired round-headed window to the left. In addition to the stone heads, the windows have a central granite column with a sandstone base and enriched sandstone capital. The doorway also has a projecting keystone carved GAS, spandrels with the date 1872 and similar granite columns set into the jambs. The doorway has a stone step and a door with four fielded panels and a plain, round-headed overlight. The seventh bay has a vertical row of taking-in doors, now glazed. There is a further doorway in the tenth bay with a similar stone head as the windows. On the first floor the windows in the fourth to tenth bays have round heads with moulded, round-headed stone heads with voussoirs of alternating coloured stone. Beneath the second-floor sill band is a plat band of black and white glazed brick. The second-floor windows are flat-headed with stone heads with a black and white glazed brick plat band running between.

The east side elevation is of three bays with a brick parapet with stone coping. There are three vertical rectangular windows on each floor with stone wedge lintels and stone sills.

The west side elevation (engine house) retains part of the east wall of the demolished mill, which projects to the left beyond the rear wall of the engine house. The parapetted wall has a stone coping and is mostly plastered with scribed blocks. At the right-hand corner the 1872 façade returns the distance that the engine house projected beyond the front wall of the mill.

The rear elevation has five bays of four storeys, including the basement, and then steps back with a further five bays, the first two bays of which are of four storeys and the remaining bays, which include the archway and engine house, are of three storeys. The lower ground floor is built on top of a stone wall which appears to be the retaining wall for the river. There are four hipped roofs over the first to third bays, fourth and fifth bays, sixth and seventh bays and eighth to tenth bays. The windows are mostly vertical, rectangular windows with wedge lintels and stone sills, and casement windows imitating small-pane sashes. The five projecting bays have windows to all bays on all floors. The return elevation to the right has a single similar window on each floor and to their immediate right a vertical row of taking-in doors, now with recessed bricking-up. The first bay of the stepped-back bays has narrower vertical rectangular windows. The ground floor of the second bay has a wider, tripartite window, with vertical rectangular windows above. The cart entrance is on the ground floor of the third and fourth bays. It has a brick jamb to the left and a stone jamb to the right, with a brick, round-headed arch with a multi-paned glazed light to the arch head set on a recessed lintel. The right-hand bay is the engine house. The ground floor and part of the first floor is constructed of roughly-coursed stone with a tall, narrow rectangular window with stone lintel and sill. Beneath in the right-hand corner is a square opening framed in stone, now bricked up. At second-floor level there is a narrow, vertical rectangular window with a stone frame.

INTERIOR: it was not possible to inspect the interior. However, plans show that the warehouse is divided into two spaces on the ground and first floors between the fifth and sixth bays (corresponding to the phasing). At second-floor level it is one open space. Photographs indicate that the timber floors are supported by rows of slender, cast-iron columns supporting large beams and closely-spaced joists. The timber roof trusses have raking timber struts and central iron rods bolted beneath the tie-beams.


Historic England Research Report, accessed 03-04-2020 from https://research.historicengland.org.uk/Report.aspx?i=16385&ru=%2fResults.aspx%3fp%3d1%26n%3d10%26a%3d4621%26ns%3d1
Roethe, J and Williams, M 2019 Central Rochdale, Greater Manchester Historic Area Assessment (Historic England Report Series 56/2019).


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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