Eagle Mill known originally as Delph Mill
This mill is on the site of what may well be the earliest fulling mill in Saddleworth It is adjacent to the probable original settlement in the village, the tenement, farm or messuage known as Delph. Henry Whitehead was tenant here in 1526 when the land formed part of Friarmere which in turn was part of the estates of Roche Abbey. After the dissolution of the monasteries, this part of Friarmere came into the hands of the Assheton family, and in 1617 Henry Whitehead bought Delph tenement from Theophilus Assheton for £200. The earliest reference to a mill here is in a 1716 Deed. This concerned the messuage called the Delf situate in Quick and Saddleworth together with its appurtenances which included "Milns and Kilns". A few years later in 1733 another Deed referred to the same messuage which was in the occupation of Robert Whitehead together with a water corn mill and a water fulling mill at Delph. Thus it would appear that the Whiteheads probably established a corn mill and a fulling mill on their freehold about 1700. Robert Whitehead, a fuller at Delph, is recorded in the Saddleworth Church Registers in 1722, but before this time occupations were not recorded in the Registers.
This picture shows the millpond at the rear of the old mill. The flats in the larger of the two stone buildings, were incorporated into the old mill.
The mill is situated at the southern end of a gorge like section of the valley of Hull Brook. Here there was a good head of water, and the valley could be easily dammed. Furthermore, the site was very close to one of the early roads through Saddleworth, the old packhorse road -- possibly a "saltway" which may well have utilised the Roman road through Delph and forded the Tame here. This road was the main route between Huddersfield and Manchester.
In 1733 the tenant of the mill was probably John Scholefield and the registers record him as the occupier of the mill between l756 and 1766, where he was fulling cloth. It is interesting to note that John Scholefield was referred to again in the registers in 1755 when he was a fuller at Bottoms Mill, the site of which remains uncertain.
There is no further reference to the corn mill at Delph after 1733, which suggests that it was the same building as the fulling mill and became obsolete as the woollen industry replaced agriculture as the main occupation in the area.
The Whitehead's estate in Delph was sold in 1733 to John Hobson of Dodworth Green, and his descendants disposed of it in 1779 to George Walmsley of Goose Lane in Rochdale.
This Deed referred to the messuage at Delph, with the fulling mill "late in the tenure of John Farrand and now of Jonathan Lees of Thurston Clough, a clothier." The sale was advertised in the Manchester Mercury for September 29th 1778 which mentioned a "water fulling mill at Delph now leased to Jonathan Lees for 21 years commencing May 1st 1777, rent £10/10/0."
The next reference to the mill occurs in a Deed dated 1797, when George Walmsley of Gooseland in Castleton mortgaged his share (one half) to James Heaward, of Balderstone, Rochdale, woolstapler (who had already come into ownership by mortgage, of the other half). The Deed referred to "one good water wheel, one tumbling shaft, and the gears for the turning of the mill storks, and one tumbling shaft and gears and drums for turning the scribbling and carding engines, together with a half share of the three scribbling engines and one wool teaser or willow (the other half share being the property of James Heaward) which premises were late in the tenure of George Walmsley and his tenants Thomas Shaw and Abraham Whitehead and now in tenure of James Heaward." Heaward was given permission to "make a slough or tunnel to and from the mill into or over a new erected stone bridge near Delph lately erected at the expense of the said George Walmsley and from there through the bottom of a close called Oxspittle into a close called Barn Meadow for the purpose of carrying the mill suds to or from the mill to the said close called Barn Meadow for the purpose of watering or manuring the same..."
Fulling probably ceased at the mill in the early nineteenth century, for by the 1820s it was known as the Delph Scribbling Mill. Directories of this period record J. Wrigley a scribbler, here between 1822 and 1832. By 1835 however James Rhodes was the tenant of George Walmsley here. Pigot's 1836 Directory refers to him as "a wool manufacturer at Delph" (the same James Rhodes as at Woodhouse Mill perhaps?). By the 1840s the mill was owned by Joseph and James Harrop. The mill was rebuilt in 1844, but William's Directory of 1845 records J. and J. Harrop, wool manufacturers of Eagle Mill. An 1851 Deed referred to the sale of the mill "by Joseph Harrop of Manchester, a wool merchant, and James Harrop of Delph, a wool manufacturer, to Robert Smith, of Camp House Broughton near Manchester". The building was referred to as "Delph Old Mill" and there is also mention of a water wheel, steam engine and tenters adjoining the mill.
By 1852 Hastings Bros. (who were also at Rasping and Shore Mills) tenanted the mill. They continued here until about 1860, as woollen manufacturers.
In the 1860’s the mill was occupied by several tenants. Cotton spinning was carried on here in the early years of the decade Broadbent, Whittaker and Wood. Later John Brierley and Sons were woollen carders and spinners here from at least 1867 to the early 1880s. In 1868 Joseph Clifton (see Carrcote Mill) rented part of the mill, for woollen manufacturing and finishing. The report of the Pollution Commissioners recorded him as employing 9, and renting steam and waterpower.
Between the 1880’s and 1906 Armitage and Rhodes manufactured shawls here, and the 0.S. Map of 1890 shows tenters nearby. At this time the mill employed about 135
The mill was actually bought by Armitage and Rhodes in 1895. Fires seriously affected the mill in 1901 and 1906 when there were 150 employees.
The mill then passed into the hands Rhodes and Butterworth, shawl manufacturers, who sold out to Benjamin Lees & Co. in 1910 (see Hull Mill).
By the 1920’s the mill had become derelict.
In 1922 W.F. Schofield, a millwright was here.
In 1937 Benjamin Lees & Co. sold out to J.B. Hoyle Co. Ltd.
The mill was used for storage by Clucas and Atherton during the 1960s, and was bought by Harold Norton in 1968.
The site was cleared for building the Eagle Court housing development in the late 1980s. Part of the old mill was incorporated into this development