Old Tame Mill was situated by the River Tame below the handloom weavers cottages of Old Tame, an ancient settlement referred to as one of the “original tenements of the Friarmere division of Saddleworth.” The mill was connected to the hamlet by a steep road.
We know from the Will of Hugh Scholefield in1776 that much of the land in this part of the valley belonged to members of his family, but the first direct reference to a mill did not occur until 1781, both in the Order Books and the Saddleworth Parish Register. The latter mentions Joseph Winterbottom of Tame Mill and in 1789 include a reference to John whitehead of Old Tame Mill. The exact date of building is therefore something of a mystery.
The Commercial Directory of 1814 does list James Schofield, a cotton spinner, of Old Tame, though this is not necessarily a direct reference to the mill itself, even though we do know that Hugh Scholefield’s second son was called James.
In 1820, however, James Scholefield, a yeoman from Castleshaw, granted to James Shaw of Dale, a woollen cloth manufacturer, “a plot of land, part of a close at Old Tame called Crooked Holme, containing 1rood 13 perches”, together with the “liberty of fixing and erecting a weir or water stop across the river Tame”, and a goit “not more than 2 yards wide”….. This is probably a recital from the original Deed relating to the mill.
The white cottages in the picture, are shown clearly on this map of 1890, and ran at right angles to the old mill. The horizontal line, almost half way up the picture marks the line of the old mill race.
James Shaw (see Hull Mill) continued to use the mill, probably for fulling, at least until 1835, when the Church Rates Book lists him as the owner and occupier of the mill. The 1836 Reservoir Bill claimed that there was a 17ft “fall” creating 6 h.p. and a rental of £63/2/6. The mill continued in the ownership of the Shaw family, but the 1841 Census does mention John Brierley, a wool carder, of Old Tame Mill. He is also mentioned again in 1847, but this time as a scribbler and fuller.
Around 1850 a new mill was built, and John Shaw was still the owner and occupier of the mill according to the 1852 Church Rates Book. Whellan’s Directory still describes him as “fuller and scribbler”.
In the 1858 and 1861 Directories John Shaw was listed as a “wool carder, spinner, fuller and scribbler”, and he was still at the mill in 1871 according to Worrall. During the next decade the mill probably became disused.
By 1887 the mill is owned by Charles Shaw who put the mill up for sale, according to the Reporter; but the sale was withdrawn. In 1890 the O.S.Map shows the mill to be disused, and in 1900 the mill, engine house, cottages and land were sold to Oldham Banking Co. for £800, according to the Reporter on 4th August.