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The mill is situated by the River Tame between the villages of Delph and Denshaw, and between the ancient hillside “folds” of Old and New Tame. Formerly the mill was very extensive, but in recent years has become reduced in size. When the mill was originally established, it was located near Horest Lane, directly between the two hamlets of Old and New Tame. These were both important centres of handloom weaving, besides being the focus of paths from other scattered hillside dwellings. The same was also true for the nearby Old Tame Mill. The mill also had terraced housing by the mill, West View on the hillside, and Friarmere cricket ground.
The building of the mill commenced in 1780. A Deed dated January 1781 referred to the “building now nearly finished and intended as a mill at Slackcote on two closes called Upper and Lower Holme”, and by 1782 it was fully operational as a scribbling mill. The mill was built by a consortium of six men: Thomas Taylor of Ashton, a gent; Robert Ellison of Stalybridge, a drysalter; Robert Buckley of Boarshurst, a clothier; Isaac Platt, a clothier; John Mallalieu of Old Tame, a clothier, and John Wrigley of Fox Hall, Oldham, a clothier. However there are numerous references in Deeds to the fact that the mill was in reality worked by Isaac Platt. This is born out by an advertisement in the Manchester Mercury on July 19th 1785 which mentiomed the sale of a 1/6th share of a “ mill, dwelling house ,scribbling and other engines at Slackcote…. Now in the occupation of Isaac Platt.” Robert Buckley sold his sixth share in “a scribbling mill at Slackcote” to John Mallalieu.
By 1796, however, the fulling process had been added. The Manchester Mercury for 16th August refers to the sale of a share in “Slackcote Mill, now used as a fulling mill”. By 1798 Mallalieu was bankrupt and there is reference to his 1/3 share in the mill. By 1800 James Mallalieu of Hilltop, had come into possession of this share in the mill and was working the mill, but four years later another Deed refers to the mill “ late in the possession of James Mallalieu but now unlet and unoccupied”.
There then follows a gap in the records for some 16 yrs. The next reference is in Pigot and Dean’s Directory for 1821 when Hague and Bestwick were listed as woollen manufacturers at Slackcote Mill. They were still there in 1824 but William Hague appears to have taken over until the early 1830s. He was certainly there in 1832 according to Pigot, but by 1835 the Church Rates Book indicates that Joseph Broadbent was in occupation. (The mill was by now owned by Hugo Worthington of Altrincham by means of various mortgage agreements in previous years). In 1836 the Reservoir Bill rental was £53/16/3, and there was a fall of 12ft producing 12h.p.
Joseph Broadbent who lived at nearby New Barn was a considerable enterpreneur in the local woollen industry, utilising both the mill at Slackcote and the outbuildings at New Barn for this purpose. This is indicated by details of his property outlined at the time of his bankruptcy in 1845, given in the Manchester Guardian on February 5th and November 1st respectively. He probably extended the mill considerably, adding spinning, weaving and dyeing processes, and installing steam power in the intervening period. There were probably one or two steam engines, for the advertisement is not too clear on this point.
In February an auction sale advertises machines belonging to Broadbent at Slackcote Mill and New Tame (New Barn) – 1, 14 h.p. steam engine; 5 carding engines; 5 scribbling engines; 2 billies x 70 spindles; 2 billies x 80 spindles; 1 billy x 100 spindles; 4 mules x 200 spindles and 4 pairs of broad power looms.
A further advertisement in November mentions the sale of—4 scribbling engines; 3 carding engines; 5 billies; 2 pairs of mules; 1 willow; 1 devil; 6 pairs of fulling stocks; 5 dye pans; 7 cutting machines; 3 steam brushing mills; 2 raising gigs; 150 yds of tenter, and 1 x 10 h.p. steam engine.
Comparing this map of 1850, with the previous map of 1820, the expansion and development of the site can clearly be seen. This was most likely to be the work of Joseph Broadbent in the 1830s and early 40s.
The mill was then unoccupied for a time, and recorded as such by the 1852 Church Rates Book, until it was taken over by Robert Byrom. We are certain that Byrom purchased the mill in 1855, for £1850, as is evidenced by Deed. In that year Robert Worthington of Manchester, a gent, John Worthington of Altrincham, a gent and James Worthington of Altrincham, a merchant, sold to Robert Byrom of Green Ash “ Two meadows at Slackcote Bent or Mill Meadow, and Lower Holme, part of which was covered with water forming a dam and containing 1acre 33 perches, plus 2 mills or factories, a warehouse, drying sheds and unoccupied cottages, on Bent or Mill Meadow, plus the mill yard, steam engines and boilers etc…”
Byrom then proceeded to extend both the mill and his landowning in the vicinity. In 1862 he came into possession of New Barn, which included 2 messuages together with an “erection used as a workshop”. He built terraced houses for the workers at Slackcote and West View.
By 1870 the Rateable Value of the mill was £224/18/0, and the mill employed just over 200.
Robert Byrom died in 1880 and his will included 12 cottages at West View, 14 at Slackcote, the mill itself with tenters, and numerous other estates, plus a cotton mill called Clarence Mill in Stalybridge. All these he divested to his sons John Lewis and Benjamin Franklin, both of Brooklands Lodge, which he had built on his New Barn estate. The Byroms continued to work Slackcote Mill.
John Lewis continued to live at Brooklands Lodge, but Benjamin subsequently moved from the area to live at Ashdale in 1899, Cheadle Hulme in 1906 and Kingston Hoylake in Cheshire in 1920.
In the early years of the century the Byrom’s took over Linfitts mill and in 1910 they were recorded as having 10,000 spindles and 175 looms. In 1956 there were 205 employed at the mill, but shortly afterwards it closed. In 1959 J. Bradbury occupied the mill for a short period, and Compoflex Ltd took over in 1963. The mill had now ceased to be a textile mill. By 1970 the premises plus 5 cottages were purchased by Peter Plunkett, and let out to a series of occupiers. These were usually small concerns like scrap metal dealers; car spraying plant, etc…but two particular tenants who arrived about this time have stayed to this day.
Brian Clegg rented part of the old mill from Peter Plunkett in 1970 to produce educational products for schools. By 1973 he had bought the site that he worked. He has continued to develop this business which now produces paints, and educational toys etc…for a European market. There are at present 25 employees and expansion is putting pressure on available space.
This is the part of the old mill, at the southern end of the site, that is now occupied by Brian Clegg Educational. It was probably built in the 1850s or 60s, at about the same time as the mill cottages, by Robert Byrom, when he was expanding his mill complex. This building and the cottages were not on the 1850 map.
At the same time another arrival on site was Tony Shandley, who likewise rented part of the mill from Peter Plunkett. At first there was a joint venture with Coin Controls, but eventually Shandley assumed control in his own right. Having now bought the rest of the mill he demolished parts, rebuilt others and developed purpose built premises for tool making, plastic injection moulding, and a pressing shop making component parts. By the 1980s there were night shifts employed and up to 200 employees.
Adverse trading conditions and the strength of the Pound have caused serious cutbacks recently, resulting in a reduction of the workforce to some 50 people by July 1998, making plastic component parts for the computer industry.
What little remains of the old mill have been incorporated into Delph Tool Co. Much however has been rebuilt since 1973. The lawn in front of the main building was the site of the mill reservoir. Both boilerhouses and mill chimneys have been demolished. The original site of the mill, as shown on the 1820 map, is probably what is now the factory yard alongside Brian Clegg’s.
The cottages built by Byrom are still here today, alongside Brian Clegg Educational Ltd.