In 1785 several freeholders in Friarmere, concerned with the enclosure of land at Oxhey, granted permission to James Milns of Wood, to erect a mill “and to place therein a scribbling engine and teasing mill, or other mechanisms or engines for manufacturing sheep’s wool and woollen cloth”, in an area of unimproved land on Oxhey 12yds x 7yds. There was also liberty to make a dam not exceeding 40yds x 40yds near Denshaw water.
The mill was constructed in 1786, for a Deed dated 31st October recorded a mortgage by James Milns (or Mills) “of a new erection….. part of which is converted into a dwelling house, and in the other part thereof are put and set up two machines for the scribbling of wool , called scribbling engines, and one other engine for the teazing of wool commonly called a teazing mill, otherwise a Willey for the teazing of wool….”
New Years Bridge Mill was built on Denshaw Brook, on one of the old tracks between Castleshaw and Rochdale via Denshaw. It was the highest mill on the river Tame.
James Mills the builder also owned the nearby Longroyd Mill and other mills in the Castleshaw valley, and was a manufacturer and merchant of some substance. Whilst he continued to work the mill he was apparently in some financial difficulty, because in 1803 he was forced to mortgage various estates including New Years Bridge to Pryce Deschamps & Co, drysalters of Manchester. A Deed of that year refers to the sum of £4050. By this time James Mills was bankrupt and the sale of his estates was advertised in the Manchester Mercury in October 1804. Besides other mills these included New Years Bridge Mill, with one water wheel, a willow, two large scribblers, one carding engine and a slubbing billy.
In 1812 however James Mills was still at the mill, but occupying only one third of the premises. The rest was in the occupation of Abraham Whitehead,yet the mill was still a very tiny concern. In that year the mill came into the ownership of Joseph Shaw, a shopkeeper from Delph.
By 1821 Robert Byrom & Son were in occupation both here and at Longroyd Mill. By 1824 it appears that the mill was probably untenanted, as the Manchester Mercury claimed that “a mill on Denshaw Brook, which was a woollen mill with a 23ft fall, and with a powerful water wheel that was almost new”, was empty.
A Deed of 1827 described the mill as being used for scribbling and carding, but the occupier at this period is uncertain. By 1830 however the mill was occupied by Abraham Gartside described in Directories as a wool manufacturer, though he probably utilised the mill for preparatory processes because Pigot’s Directory of 1838 described him as a woollen yarn manufacturer. At this time the mill was utilising a fall of 26ft with a wheel generating 8 h.p..and according to the Reservoir Bill, the rent was £72/10/0.
The 1890 Map shows the approximate site of the mill under the new reservoir. Longroyd Mill downstream was disused.
Around 1843 William Kenworthy became the occupier of the mill. In 1847 the building was up for sale following the death of Joseph Shaw in 1842, and an advertisement in the Manchester Guardian on May 29th describes the mill as “ being 12yds square, 4 storeys high plus attic, and there was also a dyehouse and woodstore. The water wheel had a diameter of 30ft and was 5ft broad, and the whole was in the occupation of William Kenworthy.” The mill must therefore have been rebuilt and enlarged between 1830 and 1840.
By the early 1850s the mill was being worked along with the nearby Longroyd Mill, by Whitehead and Shaw, wool manufacturers and in 1854 it came into the ownership of
Butterworths of Denshaw Vale Print Mill. Kell’s 1861 Directory describes the mill as being worked by Edmund Butterworth & Sons as a carding mill, but by 1866 White’s Directory lists Butterworth & Heginbottom as occupiers carding wool and manufacturing shawl. The wheel was still the same but was now supplemented by a 12 h.p. condensing steam engine. The mill was probably a carding and spinning mill at this time.
Butterworth and Heginbottom continued here until 1873. At this time William Heginbottom left to go to Spring Mill in Uppermill, and plans were afoot to use this part of the valley for reservoir construction. With that end in mind Butterworths of Denshaw Vale sold the mill, including steam engine, scribbling and carding engines, billies and mules, to Oldham Corporation.
The mill was tenanted for a short period of time by N. Brierley, wool carder and spinner, according to Worrall’s 1875 Directory, but on construction of the reservoir the mill and nearby messuage were submerged under the rising waters.
The mill is under the reservoir at about the position of the inspection tower near the dam wall. The main turnpike road as was, had to be contoured around the reservoir, as can be seen, a little higher up the hillside.