Broadhead Mill, along with its close neighbour Castleshaw Mill, were the first purpose built mills in Saddleworth. They were both small three storeyed stone built mills, utilising the Hull Brook for supplies of water and power.
The exact date that Broadhead Mill was built is unclear, but we do know that in June 1767, John Buckley acquired “a small plot of land for building a merchant and manufacturing business in partnership with his cousin Joseph Scholefield” – from Benjamin Wrigley of Broadhead.
Whilst in the early days, probably the 1780s and 90s, the mill seemed to be in the occupation of John Broadbent, it does appear that the Lloyd family had a financial interest, and the family name crops up regularly in Deeds until the final sale of the mill to Oldham Corporation in 1885.
In 1813 Edmund Wrigley inherited “all the interest and property at Broadhead Mill” from his father James, but whatever the ownership pattern was at the time, it is quite clear that between 1815 and 1869 the Buckley family are dominant in the working of the mill. The mill was known as John Buckley & Sons throughout most of this period. They were wool merchants and clothiers, and in the 1820s Hugh Buckley was known to be exporting shawls to Portugal. The Church Rates Books of 1835, 1845 and 1852 list the owners of the mill as W. H. Lloyd, but the Buckley family seemed to enjoy continuous tenure until the mid 1860s.
This 1820 map shows Broadhead Mill, here referred to as Castleshaw Mill. What was known as Castleshaw Mill, was further up the valley, and is un-named on this map.
At about this time the Kenworthy family begin to be mentioned in Directories.
In 1865 James and Jonathan F. Kenworthy are listed by Slater as “shawl and flannel manufacturers” at the mill, whilst the last mentioned of the Buckley family, Rhodes Buckley, is “fulling and scribbling” at the same mill.
All three mills shown here in 1850 were submerged under the reservoirs. Wood Mill is under the lower reservoir, and Broadhead and Castleshaw Mills are under the upper reservoir.
The Kenworthy family seem pre-eminent at the mill from about 1870, and they are referred to as “wool carders, spinners, scribblers and fullers” producing shawl and flannel. The Kenworthy family were still working the mill in 1878, but by 1885 when Oldham Corporation bought the mill at the time of reservoir construction, the mill had been “unoccupied and without machinery” for several years.