S.D. 983079

Woodhouse Mill​​ also known as Song, Greave or New Mill


Woodhouse Mill was one of the earliest fulling mills in Saddleworth. ​​ It is probably the second earliest mill in Friarmere, the earliest being Eagle Mill.


The name Woodhouse applies to the present day part of Delph, west of High Street, including the Swan Inn and Grains Road. The mill was built in 1745-

“by the river Tame, about a quarter of a mile up the valley from the ancient road and ford” i.e. the road through Delph that became the turnpike road from Oldham to Wakefield in 1759.


​​ The reed bed, - centre picture- marks the position of​​ the millpond of Woodhouse Mill. ​​ This picture was taken from behind Clifton Holme. ​​ Grains Road is in the background.



It is difficult to establish who was responsible for its establishment but from house datestones it would appear that Joseph Greave built the house on Grains Road called Woodhouse in 1740, and also one of​​ the cottages near the mill in 1755.​​ He was also the recorded owner of the mill in 1775.


The house, centre picture, is the one built by Joseph Greave in 1740. ​​ It is elevated above Grains Road, and would have overlooked Delph at the time of its construction.​​ 

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However, Registers record John Wrigley-clothier, 1745, and John Kenworthy-fuller, in 1748, of Woodhouse.






Joseph Greave certainly owned the mill in 1775, when​​ he released his estate at Woodhouse to his nephew Joseph Shaw-, except,

“reserved unto Joseph Greave, the fulling mill and liberty for Joseph Greave to hang pieces of cloth to dry on the hedge and wall on each side of the lane and also to hang them upon the wall of the meadow side in the winter season - 10th​​ October to 25th​​ May.”


Joseph Greave then released the mill; also to his nephew Joseph Shaw in 1778, when it was described as-

“a fulling mill near Delph, called New Mill, together with a dam.”


In 1802​​ Joseph Shaw the elder, a yeoman of Woodhouse, leased the mill to James Wilde of Dale. ​​ He was later described as a clothier, dealer and chapman. However in 1804 the mill appeared to be occupied by William Greenwood, Edward Buckley, and John Lees. ​​ But it​​ was James Wilde in 1803 who was granted permission by James Mills, of Wood, who also owned Carrcote Estates-

“to make a goit 6ft wide to run from the top to the bottom of the field of James Mills, called Little or Great Holme, which was in the occupation of Abraham Whitehead, and from thence across a field called Lower Butt, to a mill dam called Greave Mill for the purpose of collecting waters into the said mill or dam..


All subsequent deeds referring to Woodhouse Mill mention the rental of £4 payable to the owner of Carrcote Estate for the collection of water from this sough.


By 1807 James Wilde is bankrupt and his estate including the lease of Woodhouse Mill is in the hands of assignees.


The mill continued in the ownership of the Shaw family but following the death of Joseph Shaw in 1804 it is much divided between various family members. E.g. ... son John 7/27ths, daughter Sarah 6/27ths and son Joseph 1 4/27ths.


The actual occupier at this time is uncertain, but by 1815 there is a reference to Edmund Buckley, a cotton spinner, being the owner of the mill.


In 1817 the mill was still described as a fulling mill and leased by William and Thomas Rhodes of Castlehill Cote. ​​ They seem to trade as James Rhodes and Sons. ​​ They continued here until 1848, but also had interests at Pingle Mill, scribbling and carding there from 1835.


The mill was owned by Joseph Shaw according to the Church Rates Book of 1835, and a rent of over £57…..with dyehouse, warehouse, press shop and mill, making it one of the larger woollen mills in Saddleworth.


The sale of machinery in 1849 is evidence that all processes were carried out here except weaving. ​​ Probably scribbling and spinning were introduced during the Rhodes’ occupancy.


By 1852 the mill and dyehouse are owned by Henry Buckley but occupied by Abraham Rhodes.


The O.S. Map of 1891 shows Woodhouse Mill in ruins, following the fire of 1873. The picture below shows the visible damage to the mill. ​​ The row of cottages on the village side of the mill was possibly still occupied.​​ 

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The Poll list of 1863 shows E. Mellor as the occupier, but Jones’ Directory includes James Dyson, ‘a shawl finisher of Song Mill’. ​​ Slater mentions him again as a wool carder and spinner in 1869. ​​ By 1870 the mill was not rated and fell into disuse. ​​ At the time of its destruction by fire in 1873 a flannel manufacturer called Bartholomew Hanley occupied it.


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