Linfitts Mill also known as Swainscroft or Lawton Mill
Although the Order Book first refers to a fulling mill on this site, called Lawton Mill in 1759, fulling had probably started here several years earlier.
The Saddleworth Church Register refers, in 1754, to John Farrand, a fuller of Swainscroft (Lawton Mill), and again in 1756 under Swainscroft Mill. There are several other similar entries in the 1750’s and 1760’s and a Deed of 1767, refers to John Farrand of Swainscroft Fulling Mill, and to Swainscroft being “in his occupation”.
By 1768, however the mill was owned by Joseph Lawton “a gent”, of Dobcross.
The first reference to Linfitts Mill occurs in the registers of 1775, with mention of William Wrigley, “a clothier”, and in 1776 with Joseph Kenworthy, “a clothier. They were probably living in adjoining dwellinghouses mentioned in an earlier Deed.
In 1777, a notice in the Manchester Mercury on 8th April indicates that John Roberts and James Wrigley were fulling at Linfitts. The mill continued in the Roberts family until 1846 at least.
In the Registers List James Byrom is mentioned as a fuller at Linfitts in 1776 and 1800.
John Roberts and Sons—wool manufacturers and merchants—were mentioned in numerous Directories from 1815 onwards.
The 1835 Church Rates Book indicates John Roberts to be the owner/occupier of the mill, plus warehouse. In 1835 he rebuilt the mill- resulting in a reservoir bill of £174/8/6 in 1836. The waterwheel was now producing 15h.p. from a 30ft drop.
A James Byrom is again referred to in the 1841 Census as “a fuller of Linfits Mill”.
There is no mention of additional processes being carried out until this new mill had been built. But in several Directories around this time reference is made to “carding” taking place at Linfitts. There is also an advert in the Manchester Guardian, on 12th December 1846, which shows the mill to be….
“extensive, with part just erected being 28yds x 12yds x 3 floors; whilst adjoining is an older mill, 18yds x 10 yds x 3 floors. A new 32ft x 9ft waterwheel, has also been erected. Applicants to Mr. J. Roberts – on the premises.”
A further advert in 1849 added more detail. This time the mill was for auction and was described as---
“Linfitts Mill, erected on the site of an old mill, plus dyeworks, cottage, and tenter store, late in the occupation of John Roberts, but now unoccupied”
At some time in the next few years however, the mill came to be owned by the Buckley family. J. Buckley “wool carder and spinner”, and M. Buckley “a fuller and scribbler”, both of Linfitts, are listed in Slater’s Directory.
In 1861 J.E & G.F. Buckley were at Linfitts, and the Pollution Commissioners reported that there were 180 employed at the mill. There was a waterwheel generating 50h.p. and a steam engine of 15h.p.
The Rateable Value in 1863 was £236.
The Buckleys continued until 1879 as flannel and wool manufacturers at which time Joseph Buckley returned to the mill from Johnny Mill, which was closing down due to reservoir construction.
On 3rd August 1897, Joseph Buckley & Co. became a registered company at Linfitts. Business continued as woolcombers, spinners and manufacturers until 1901 when poor accessibility led to the company moving to Warth Mill, Diggle.
The sale notice of July1901 read:-
“Lot 1. 2 woollen mills at Linfitts- each three stories high, plus attics. One is 67ft x 49ft, and the other 196ft x 40ft. Comprising also engine and boiler houses, long chimney, a dyehouse and tenter store, and a 31ft wheel.”
Robert Byrom eventually acquired the mill to extend flannel and shawl making capacity at Slackcote. The mill now employed 68 and continued as a working mill until the early 1930’s.
The ruins of Linfitts Mill can easily be seen by the river. Parts of walls, goits and engine beds still remain, as does the millpond and weir, to the right of the picture, along the valley bottom towards Denshaw.