Holcombe Moor Heritage Group

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Cinder Hill Engine House

The existence of Cinder Hill Engine House at the site known as Bottoms was first recorded in 1780. However, until the summer of 2010, its exact location was unknown. Then a dry summer helped us locate a platform and a few low walls at the foot of the mill itself. This was the beginning of a 7 year project to find out more about the engine house.

History of Cinder Hill Estate

Cinder Hill Engine House is located within the estate of Cinder Hill. The estate comprised of Cinder Hill Farm and the Engine House. The Engine House dates from probably around 1780-1790.

16th Century

The earliest reference to Cinder Hill farm dates back to 1578 when Robert Holte surrenders the property to ? Nuttall for a period of 21 years.

17th Century

Little has been uncovered for the estate during this period other than a series of surrenders as listed below.

18th Century

The 18th century sees the construction of the engine house at the bottom of the valley probably by Lawrence Brandwood, and it is assumed that the engine house was used by his son John Brandwood in conjunction with John Livesey, a weaver living at Cinder Hill Farm.

19th Century

Before the death of Lawrence Brandwood in 1802, his son, John, moves to live in the family home at Holcombe Hey Fold, on the western side of Holcombe Valley, leaving the engine house in the hands of Samuel Brooks, a weaver, and John Pennington, a spinner.

In 1825 the estate is taken over by John Parker, a local spinner of cotton, who immediately starts the construction of a larger cotton spinning mill 200m downstream of the engine house. This will become known as Cinder Hill Factory and was a cotton waste spinning mill. As part of the this new venture, the old engine house is converted into cottages for the workers at the new factory, although it is not clear whether there were 2 or 3 cottages on the site. The cottages become known as 'Bottoms'. We do know that the brother-in-law of John, a ? Nuttall, and his family are living in one of the cottages in the early 1840's and it is Thomas Nuttall the son of ? who gets into trouble with John Parker in 1842 as the extract from the Manchester Mercury shows below:

“One cold morning in February, little Thomas Nuttall aged 8 was looking out of the cottage window at the fresh fall of snow lying on the ground in the valley bottom, and thought to himself 'I don't want to go to work in the mill today, I just want to stay at home and play in the snow'. So he decided to go sabotage the water wheel at the factory so he would get some time off work. He slipped on his clogs and crept down to the mill and 'scotched' the wheel with timber, metal work and stone. Then he crept back to cottage and waited for the call to work. When the mill staff tried to start the water wheel later that morning, there was a problem and the wheel wouldn't start. Upon investigation they discovered the sabotage, but who had done the deed? Of course lying there in the snow was a fresh set of clog prints that they duely followed back to the cottages at Bottoms. There little Thomas Nuttall admitted what he had done and John Parker the mill owner was sent for.

John Parker demanded that the boy's father punish Thomas for his deeds but the father refused, leaving John Parker no option but to take Thomas to court to face a Judge for his crime. The Judge was all for sending little Thomas to the New Bailey prison in Salford or worse, maybe even deported. However, John Parker came to the boys defence saying that 'he blamed the boys father just as much as the boy, because if the father had punished the boy the case would never have come to court.' In the end the Judge sends Thomas to the New Bailey Prison for one month for the crime he committed.”

The new factory changes hands in the 1850's when ? Wild takes over and various people rent the mill until by the 1860's the mill shuts down. There is a small revival in the 1870's as a cotton bleaching works but this is short lived and by the mid 1870's the story of Cinder Hill Factory come to an end.

The life of the cottages seems to follow the fortunes of the factory and by the 1870's have fallen into disuse according to the census information of the time.

20th Century

The final date of the demise of the cottages is uncertain, but the buildings probably had already started to collapse when the Army took over the Valley around 1912-1914, and any remaining structure would probably have been totally demolished by the army around the 1970's when the rest of the valleys buildings and remains were destroyed.


Download HMHG 2015 Excavation Report on Bottoms Mill Download HMHG 2016 Excavation Report on Bottoms Mill