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CROFT MILL

Halifax Road

Todmorden

Map Ref. SD941241

 

Plan of the Halifax Road mills, prepared by W. L. Sandbach

about 1920 for insurance purposes.

 

It is now near impossible to sort out the complex of mills that developed on the once open land between the main road to Halifax, previously known as Roomfield Lane, and the canal. There were no streets, just open land, meadow and fields. The first to be built were ALBION MILL and CANAL STREET WORKS in 1839. The rest followed on over the next 30 years. One large complex of mills was a solid block, consisting of ANCHOR MILL, FEATHERS MILL, HOPE STREET MILL, CROFT MILL and STACKHILLS MILL, all built at different times with one added on to the other as extensions, as seen in the above diagram.

 

Known occupiers

1848

No building on site on 6” map

1853-1872

COCKCROFT Henry & Son

1872-1899

COCKCROFT John

1856-1859

CRABTREE William & J

1870-1871

CRABTREE Charles

1879

GILL John

1880-1897

MARSHALL & STEPHENSON

1880-1883

MITCHELL William

1880-1883

SUTCLIFFE Sugden

c1899

SANDBACH William Lacy Ltd.

1895

MITCHELL Frederick

1975

Carrington Vyella

Demolished 2005.

 

Illustrated history

 

Henry Cockcroft was the founder of one of the longest running family firms manufacturing cotton in Todmorden. He began in a small way, making coloured cloth and selling it in his own draper's shop at Lob Mill in Langfield, whilst his wife made dresses from the cloth to sell in the shop. His son John helped him with the business, and during the 1850's, Henry, his wife Sally, daughter Ann and son John moved to live at 74 Roomfield Lane (Halifax Road). John married Sarah Ellen, and they lived next door to his parents.

 

Together with John, Henry built and equipped a power-loom weaving shed on the corner of Hope Street and Halifax Road, known as Croft Mill. They incorporated a warehouse and built cottages, shops and housing for the workers. The finished building was 3 storeys high and square-shaped. The firm, originally known as Henry Cockcroft and Son, specialised in the manufacture of linen and cotton check. Later, they extended the mill to include warping and winding. Father and son prospered, although the factory was small in comparison to many others.

Henry died in 1872 aged 69. He is buried with his wife at Eastwood Congregational Chapel. John then took over the reins. His wife Sarah Ellen had died by then and he was married to his second wife, Emily. His children were Bertha, John Arthur, Betsey, William Henry, Herbert, Maude and Kate. In 1881, the family lived at Croft Bank, a house on Roomfield Lane. John described himself as a linen manufacturer, employing 39 men and 3 boys. He was doing well for himself as he employed a live-in Governess for his children and a live-in servant. His 15-year-old son, John Arthur, was away at Boarding School in Southport.

However, things were perhaps not as they seemed, and John Cockcroft over stretched himself, or fell foul of the depressed cotton trade at the end of the 1870's and early 1880's. He reduced his own business at Croft Mill and offered space and power to other concerns. It was not a large mill, but he made use of the warehouses and workshops, renting them out to people such as Marshall & Stephenson, reed and heald makers, and William Mitchell, a smith. Other existing successful weaving firms also took advantage of the available space such as Sugden Sutcliffe of the adjoining Hope Mill, Charles Crabtree of neighbouring Anchor Mill who both took on a few extra looms, and John Gill who had just 12 looms in 1879.

By 1886, John had interests in Liverpool, Belgium and Ireland as well as Todmorden, but was forced to petition for bankrupty with a seeming cash flow problem. His debts were massive for the times, but it seems he recovered and was able to clear his debts and continue in business.

   

John Arthur (left) with his family c1910 by kind permission of Roger Birch

When John Cockcroft retired, his son John Arthur took over and in 1899 left Croft Mill to establish a larger concern at BIRKS MILL in Walsden. Croft Mill was sold to W.L. Sandbach.
   
John died in 1900 aged 73 and is buried in a family vault at Christ Church. John Arthur paddled on until 1927, dying at Birks House in Walsden at the age of 61. He is buried with his father.

Birks House, Walsden

   

 The mill was demolished in 2005 and nothing remains.

 
 

Additional information

mostly researched, recorded and referenced by Mrs Sheila Wade

Hebden Bridge WEA Local History Group

 

Eric W. Cockcroft 20th May 1975

John Cockcroft & Sons Ltd. has its origin in handloom weaving by the writer’s great grandfather, Henry Cockcroft, at Hillside Farm, Todmorden, and he subsequently built Croft Mill at Roomfield Lane (now Halifax Road). He remained there with his son John until his death on 10th January 1872. John continued the business at Croft Mill, later assisted by his son John Arthur Cockcroft, the writer’s father. In 1899 he vacated Croft Mill and went to BIRKS MILL in Walsden. John Cockcroft died on 6th November 1900. John Arthur Cockcroft died on 7th April 1927 aged 61. Croft Mill is now known as HOPE STREET MILL and after John Cockcroft & Sons Ltd. left for Walsden, it was run by W. L. Sandbach Ltd., subsequently being acquired by Carrington Vyella. They produce sheetings and have a small shop attached to the works.

 

Notes from John Travis, contemporary historian

Henry Cockcroft, late of Lob Mill, shopkeeper, built a weaving shed, houses, shops and warehouses etc near the Rope & Anchor Inn. Later, in partnership with his son John, he extended the premises and began winding and warping. Steam powered. They made coloured garments.

 

1851 census

Lob Mill, Stansfield, Todmorden

Henry Cockcroft, married, aged 49, cotton cloth manufacturer & draper.

John, son, aged 24, cotton cloth manufacturer & draper.

 

White 1853

Henry Cockcroft & Son, cotton manufacturers.

 

Langfield Poor Rates 1856

Owned and occupied by John Cockcroft & Son; Roomfield Lane; loomshed; 8hp; rateable value £59.17s.10d

 

Langfield Poor Rates 1857-59

Owned and occupied by John Cockcroft & Son; Roomfield Lane; loomshed; 8hp; rateable value £59.17s.10d.

Occupied by W. & J. Crabtree; owner Henry Cockcroft; Roomfield Lane; shed; 4hp; rateable value £29.14s.9d; (new shed in 1859; £38.17s.9d.)

 

Halifax Courier 16th July 1859

Fire at engine house of Messrs. Cockcroft’s weaving shed, Roomfield Lane. Fielden’s fire engine put it out. Damage £30 to £40.

 

Langfield Poor Rates 1860-62

Owned and occupied by John Cockcroft & Son; Roomfield Lane; sheds; hp etc; rateable value £178.5s.10d.

 

Kelly 1861

Henry Cockcroft & Son, linen and cotton check manufacturers

 

Todmorden Post Office Directory 1861

Cockroft, Henry & Son – linen & cotton check mfrs – Roomfield Lane

 

1861 census

Roomfield Lane, Langfield, Todmorden

Henry Cockcroft, married, aged 59, cotton manufacturer.

Next door:

John Cockcroft, married, aged 34, cotton manufacturer.

 

Langfield Poor Rates 1863-64

Owned and occupied by John Cockcroft & Son; Roomfield Lane; sheds; hp etc; rateable value £178.5s.10d; additional room £17.6s.8d.

 

Langfield Poor Rates 1865-69

Owned and occupied by John Cockcroft & Son; Roomfield Lane; sheds; hp etc; rateable value £147; Township re-valuation.

 

White 1866

Henry Cockcroft & Son, cotton spinner and manufacturer, and linen.

 

Langfield Poor Rates 1870-71

Occupied by Cockcroft & Crabtree; owned by Cockcroft; Roomfield Lane; sheds; hp etc; rateable value £147.

 

Kelly 1871

Henry Cockcroft & Son, 74 Roomfield Lane, linen and cotton check manufacturers

 

Todmorden West Riding Directory 1871

Cockroft, Henry & Son – linen & cotton check mfrs – 74, Roomfield Lane.

 

1871 census:

74 Roomfield Lane, Langfield, Todmorden

Henry Cockcroft, married, aged 69, cotton manufacturer.

 

Next door:

John Cockcroft, married, aged 44, cotton manufacturer.

 

Langfield Rates 1873-1879

Owned and occupied by John Cockcroft; Roomfield Lane; sheds; hp etc; rateable value £147;

1875 – additions £1.10s.0d.

1880-1883 – Room and Power.

 

Slater 1875

John Cockcroft, checks and ginghams

 

Kelly 1877

John Cockcroft, checks and ginghams

 

White's 1877 West Riding Directory

Cockroft, John – linen & cotton check mfrs – 74, Roomfield Lane.

 

The Leeds Mercury Friday November 1st. 1878

Todmorden trade depressed.

Mr. John Cockcroft, Hope Mill, 90 looms, running full time

 

Halifax Courier 12th July 1879

John Cockcroft, Roomfield Lane, reducing wages 10%.

 

Todmorden and Hebden Bridge Advertiser 1st August 1879

Croft Mill; John Cockcroft; 130 looms; 120 looms running full time.

Croft Mill; John Gill; 12 looms working full time

 

Todmorden and Hebden Bridge Advertiser 24th July 1880

Flood at John Cockcroft’s, Croft Mill loom shed.

 

Langfield Rates Book 1880-83 Room and Power.

Owned and occupied by John Cockcroft; Roomfield Lane; sheds; hp etc; rateable value £148.10s.0d.

Occupied by Marshall & Stevenson; owner John Cockcroft; workshop; Roomfield Lane; rateable value £10.10s.0d.

Occupied by William Mitchell; owner John Cockcroft; smithy; Roomfield Lane; rateable value £2.10s.0d.

Occupied by S. Sutcliffe & Co; owner John Cockcroft; shed and warehouse; Roomfield Lane; rateable value £33.

 

1881 census

John Cockcroft, aged 54, linen manufacturer employing 39 men and 3 boys.

 

Langfield Rates Book 1884-1893

Owned and occupied by John Cockcroft; Roomfield Lane; sheds; hp etc; rateable value £148.10s.0d.

 

Halifax Courier 13th February 1886

Failure of John Cockcroft, manufacturer, Croft Mill, Todmorden. Liabilities estimated at £33,000. Debtor’s chief business connections are with Belgian and Irish houses, and should the assets realise the estimate put upon them, the amount of the liabilities will be covered.

 

Halifax Courier 6th March 1886

First meeting of creditors of John Cockcroft, cotton and linen manufacturer of Roomfield Lane, Todmorden. Cause of failure was that he was unable to dispose of his Liverpool equities. Liabilities of £33,000 secured on properties in Liverpool and Todmorden. Trade creditors mainly in Ireland and Belgium. Debtor commenced business about 1871 with capital of £13,000.

 

Halifax Courier 27th March 1886

Burnley Bankruptcy Court. John Cockcroft, in July last, prepared a statement for his bankers, but since found that he was £2,000 to £3,000 wrong. This is explained by an over valuation. 2 days before he filed his petition he paid his son £125 for wages.

 

Worrall 1891

John Cockcroft (and linen) Croft Mill, Roomfield Lane, 80 looms.

 

Kelly 1893

John Cockcroft, Croft Mill, linen and cotton check manufacturers.

Marshall & Stephenson, heald and reed makers

 

Factory Act prosecutions, 13th April 1893

Marshall and Stevenson heald and reed makers, Hope Street, Todmorden.

Two Cases heard by J.A. Ingham and D. J. Crossley Esqrs. At Todmorden

1 – Failing to obtain certificate of fitness – Penalty 5s and Costs 9s

2 – Failing to register the name of a young person – Penalty nil costs 6s.6d.

Withdrawn on payment of costs.

 

Kelly 1895

Marshall & Stephenson, reed makers, Croft Mill.

Frederick Mitchell, temple maker, Croft Mill

 

Kelly 1897

John Cockcroft, Croft Mill, linen and cotton check manufacturers.

Marshall & Stephenson, Halifax Road, reed and temple makers.

 

Kelly 1908

William Lacy Sandbach, cotton manufacturer, Hope Street and Salford Mills.

 

 

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