New Bridge Mill c 1900, looking towards Crimsworth Dean and showing the lodge to Hardcastle Craggs
Hebden Bridge Local History Society
New Bridge Mill
In 1791 John Foster of Slack, with partners including Gamaliel Sutcliffe, insured a cotton mill called New Bridge, stone built and slated, for £400, and stock and machinery for £600. In 1811 there were two cottages and the mill, which contained 12 water frames of 48 spindles.
When the mill was advertised to let in 1823 it was described as four stories high, supplied by ‘a constant and powerful stream from the great river Hebden and in a very populous and trading country where hands may be procured at reasonable wages,’ near the line of the turnpike and canal.
Titus and James Gaukroger later took the tenancy of this mill. Although conditions in local mills varied, this account is typical of many heard about the mills:
‘I began work at 7 years of age (1828) for James & Titus Gaukroger New Bridge Mill, James Gaukroger lived at the better house near the mill, and his brother Titus in the mill bottom …I worked for them in the throstle room 13 or 14 hours per day for 3 shillings per week the average for men would be 16-18 shillings, we were treated like dogs, both my master and overlookers.’
The Gaukrogers declared themselves opposed to the restriction of hours and told the Factory Commissioners in 1833 that children were best for the work. By the time they left New Bridge cotton mills were subject to parliamentary control, although it was difficult to enforce this effectively.
In 1863 the mill was leased by John Foster to Abraham and John Gibson of Greenwood Lee, ‘with sufficient ground near to the mill for the site of a …’steam engine and boiler to be built by the lessees if and when required’. In evidence given to the Rivers Pollution Commission in 1868, Gibson Bros. said that they used both steam and water as power, but that ‘steam is only used in drought.’
In 1884 there was a water turbine which provided 8 hp and another 8 hp was supplied by a small horizontal steam engine. In the 1890s part of the mill was used as a dye works and part as Wood and Sutcliffe’s refreshment rooms. The mill was disused by 1908, and due to its dangerous state was finally demolished in the 1950s.
Documents (leases etc) refer to the dam or reservoir in Key Pit Holme, known locally as Keppit Holme. The wheel pit and goit still exist.