Mike Rothwell was the author of several books on Industrial Archaeology. His Industrial Heritage A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of the Ribble Valley includes the history of Rimington’s milling, mining and weaving activities. He died in 2018 and his executor has kindly allowed the relevant material to be published on the website. Because of the importance of the site, the information on the Skeleron lead mines has been put into its own section of the website.

Background

The medieval village of Rimington and the associated hamlets of Stopper Lane, Newby and Howgill, were important centres of handloom weaving during the nineteenth century. Census returns, particularly of 1851 and 1861, show that much of the population was engaged in weaving a variety of fabrics, including calicoes, fancies, worsteds and silks. Although the majority of weaving was carried out in domestic loom shops, documentary records suggest that at least one handloom "factory" and a number of putting out warehouses existed in the district. There were also two small cotton factories and corn mills at Howgill and Rimington Bridge. The other important industry was lead mining, which was mainly located at Skeleron. Although the village was linked to the railway system in 1879, industry declined during the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the closure of Newby Mill in 1900 marked the end of textile activity in Rimington and district. Since this time the area has been mainly agricultural and residential.

Aynhams, 

A farmhouse north of the bridge, has a date stone of 1812; beyond is New Mylah, a cottage with cellars facing the roadside. Both these places were occupied by handloom weavers in 1851.
 

Howgill Corn Mill SD 825 459

An obscure site which appears to have become disused during the eighteenth century. Some ruins and disturbed ground can be seen immediately south of the road bridge over Howgill Beck. The flat land to the rear possibly marks the position of the mill pond. A weir is sited about 500 metres south of the site on the brook, although there is no obvious sign of a goit.

Howgill Mill SD 824 462

A small water-powered factory on Howgill Beck probably established about 1790 by Thomas Hague Newcome and Samuel Westerman, cotton weft spinners. The partnership was dissolved in 1795 and Westerman continued the business until his death in 1828. By 1840 the mill had been leased by Westermans to Thomas Dawson. In the 1850s the factory was being used for hard waste spinning and weaving. Machinery included devils, cards, billies, 20 calico looms and 8 sheeting looms, with additional power from a 9hp high pressure engine. At this time the workforce was probably less than twenty. Following the bankruptcy of James Moorhouse in 1858 manufacturing appears to have ended. The mill had been demolished by the end of the nineteenth century. The main remains are at the northern end of Robin Lane, adjacent to the beck. There is a two storey, double gabled house, which may have been partly used as accommodation for the mill apprentices. The factory was attached to the northern gable which shows evidence of having been an internal wall. Earthworks, marking the site of the goit and reservoir, can be observed east of the house. Upstream, close to Howgill Bridge, is the much altered weir.

Newby Mill SD 816 460

Built in 1862-63 by Thomas Townson, a local shopkeeper, the two storey mill included a ground floor loom shop with weaving preparation above. In the 1880's 120 looms, powered by a small steam engine, were operating on the site. The first tenants of the mill were C. & E. Duckworth. A succession of manufacturers mainly weaving calicos, sateens and coloured goods followed. Among them were James Taylor, W. & J. Ratcliffe of Great Harwood and James Cook of Clitheroe. After a period of brief tenancies and closure the mill was taken over in 1894 by Joseph Walton who installed electric lighting. 70 looms were operational in 1898. In 1900 the mill closed indefinitely and four years later was demolished to make way for housing. Three brick built houses now occupy the site. Flagstones in the rear yard, and a short wall with quoins, are the only traces of the mill. Joseph Walton lived at Rose Cottage, Stopper Lane.

Rimington Corn Mill SD 811 462

A water mill existed on or near this site, at the close of the thirteenth century. Precise records of millers commence in 1803 and for most of the nineteenth century Thomas Bank and his family worked the mill. By the beginning of this century the buildings were disused. The site is on the east side of Rimington Bridge. The main survival is a two storey random stone structure built into the hillside. Recent lean-to sheds are attached to the remaining portion of the mill. The tail race, marked by an arched stone opening, is situated between the stream and the mill. There is a drained mill pond to rear of building. The goit extends approximately 650 metres east to a weir on Rimington Beck, where the remains of a sluice gate can be seen. The track running alongside the goit was probably built to service a lime kiln which formerly stood in the field north-east of the mill.

Comment as at July 2020 - The goit can no longer be seen in the field however a picture of the goit as it was has been included.

Stopper Lane SD 813 459

A number of houses in this hamlet show physical evidence associated with handloom weaving. Gondal House and Withy Down is a substantial building which was used at the beginning of the century by a joiner, Richard Spencer. The machinery was driven by a primitive windmill projecting from the gable end. However, the site predates this use and may well have been used by handloom weavers earlier in the nineteenth century. The three storey building has ranges of eight windows to the first and second floors, with triple lights to the ground floor. The rear wall has six separated openings to both first and second floors. The three storey cottages adjoining the former Methodist Chapel were also occupied by handloom weavers in the nineteenth century. The second floor rooms are lit by pairs of separated windows which suggests that worsted fabrics may have be woven here. In 1840, James & Henry Stuttard, cotton manufacturers of Roughlee and Clitheroe, had a warehouse at Stopper Lane, probably used for putting out to the local weavers.

 

Although it is not in Rimington behind Stubs Farm a prominent spoil heap can be seen.  This is:

Twiston Barytes Mine SD 504 449

A small scale working which operated for a few years in the middle of the nineteenth century. The 1851 Census lists three barytes miners living at Hollins House. Sited north-east of Torrid Bank Wood is a large grassed spoil heap, and the remains of a drift cutting running south-east into the hillside.

 Information about the Skeleron lead mining area is in its own section of the website.