Horest Mill was one of the few early 19-century mills in Saddleworth that were built specifically for cotton spinning. It was built on the hillside between Old Tame and the river Tame itself. Water was supplied from a small stream nearby, but of significance – seeing that the mill was probably never water powered, was the fact that it was located on an outcrop of Holcombe Brook coal. This might have served the mill’s needs in the early years, but as this coal was not very prolific, coal supplies were probably brought in. The mill was not far from the Oldham- Ripponden turnpike, but the steep narrow approach from Old Tame, and the long uphill climb over Grains Bar, must always have been a serious disadvantage.
The will of James Schofield of Castleshaw, late of Old Tame, in June 1821tells us that he left to his nephew Ben Wrigley of Castleshaw “ a factory, messuages, engine house, engine and fields at Horest.” This is surely a reference to Horest Mill. But the mill was not shown on the 1820-21 survey of Saddleworth, yet James Heginbottom, a cotton spinner of Horest is listed in Baines’ 1822 Directory. His 1825 Directory listed William Heginbottom & Bros, Cotton spinners of Horest Mill. This was the first definite reference to the mill itself.
The mill can never have been very large, and indeed the Factory Commissioners reported in 1834 that 38 were employed here, with a steam engine of only 6h.p. By this time power looms had been introduced, and the Church Rates Book of 1835 listed an old and a new factory here, suggesting that perhaps a new one had been built to accommodate weaving alongside the older spinning mill.
William Heginbottom continued here until1838 at least, but White’s 1842 Directory refers to them as cotton spinners of Old Tame. It is possible that by this time they had moved to the more accessible Martin Mill. Pigot’s 1841 Directory lists Benjamin Wrigley as a cotton spinner and merchant at Horest Mill, but three years later he was bankrupt and the mill, together with Brownhill Bridge Mill, was for sale. The Manchester Guardian of February 17th, 1844 advertises the auction sale of “cotton mill at Horest, with a steam engine of 9h.p.”
An 1845 Deed indicates that Thomas Gartside of Friarmere Lodge purchased the Horest Estate, including a cotton mill nearby, an engine house and engine, late in the occupation of William Heginbottom. The Gartsides were also woollen printers at Woodbrow, and they occupied Horest Mill for cotton spinning until the late 1870s. In 1885 the mill was for sale, but there were no bidders, and the 1890 O.S. map suggests it was disused. It was still there, empty and unoccupied in the early 20th century, when it was demolished.
Horest Cottage and Millstone House on Horest Lane, were both part of the old mill, probably living quarters that were attached. The gardens still contain part of the mill pond, developed as a garden feature.