Waters Mill

S.D. 996093

Waters Mill​​ or Nield Mill


Waters Mill was built in Waters Clough, Castleshaw, which carried the stream into the River Tame just below Johnny Mill.


The mill was built by Mr. Armitage, who appeared to own it according to Land Tax records, certainly from as early as 1794. ​​ He did not work the mill which was occupied by John Nield. ​​ This situation seems to have continued until about 1810 when Johnathon Gartside was listed as the tenant. ​​ There are also references to Jesse Broadbent in Registers for 1798 and 1800, as being “of Waters Mill”.


It is not clear what processes were carried on in these early years, but some clue is given perhaps in Directories that list N. Aked and John Schofield as “wool manufacturers of Waters”. ​​ This may not necessarily be direct reference to the mill, which between 1810 and 1825 was occupied by William Rhodes.


From the early 1830s to 1845 the dominant reference is to a Henry Fisher who was a “cloth dresser and finisher”. ​​ It was in this period that ownership changed,​​ because the Church Rates Book of 1835 and again in 1852 list Margaret Armitage as the owner of the mill. ​​ Throughout this time the reference is usually to Nield Mill.​​ 


Slater refers to Rhodes & Co. of Nield Mill as “wool printers”, but the remaining years​​ of the mill’s working life appear to be in the tenancy of members of the Beesley family. ​​ Beesley & Co. “wool printers” are listed in 1853 by White, and William Beesley is listed by Slater in 1858. ​​ But it was Joseph Beesley who dominates proceedings at the mill, from the late 1860s until the mill was bought by Oldham Corporation in July 1886 as part of their reservoir building schemes.

Waters, about 1880. Is that Millcroft, Paradise and Grange, on the left of the picture?​​ 

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Thornton’s “ New Saddleworth Sketches”, tells us that Waters Mill was a shawl printing business, and that Joseph Beesley had large export orders for South America.​​ 

​​ The shawls were apparently, white when made, then dyed scarlet, crimson and blue, before being taken to Waters Mill for printing in fancy designs.


The mill did change ownership during this long tenancy, and a Deed of 1874 registers this change to leave the premises now in the hands of John Atherton of Swinton Park. ​​ He remained the owner until 1886. ​​ The sale Deed of 1874 refers to " a messuage etc. in Castleshaw, called Waters, and buildings used as a mill​​ for cloth manufacturing and finishing, plus dam, waterwheel etc”.


The Brookland Lodge Papers of 1866 give the clearest indication of its use when detailing a mortgage for £100, between Beesleys of Waters, a wool printer, and J.E. & G.F. Buckley of Linfitts House. ​​ The household furniture and mill were listed as :-

“1 hydraulic extractor, 1 stone cistern, 1 scouring machine, 1 stock and tappit wheel, piping, shafting, drums, straps & tapes”. ​​ The press shop contained “ 1 press, 50 dozen papers, a press oven, 4 dozen press plates, 2 tables, 800 sets of printing blocks, 6 table flags and frames, tubs etc., 40 yds of steam piping, 300 rails, 2 tin pans, 1 copper pan, 1 brass pan, 2 dozen mugs, brushes, 1 desk, 1 long table, 1 cutting machine, 2 outdoor tenters​​ 140 yds long, 2 inside tenters 32 yds long, 60 yds of steam piping, 2 pairs of broadlooms, boxes, shuttles etc.”


All the above seem clearly consistent with an establishment involved in the manufacture and finishing of woollen cloth.​​ 


All that now remains of Waters Mill is the overgrown millpond, which is now classified as a bird sanctuary, on the north side of the Castleshaw Outdoor Pursuits Centre.

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