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Friday, 25 March 2011

Weekend Reflections: Mill Race

This delightful scene with its watery reflection is in the village of Delph, in Saddleworth, around 7 miles from Ashton.

The tranquillity of the scene belies its industrial origins. The waterway on the left is an artificial mill race or leat, created to provide power for a woollen mill a little further downstream.

The water comes from the River Tame, which runs unseen below the bank on the right of the photo. A couple of hundred yards upstream, just below Delph Bridge, a weir across the river helps to divert some of the water into the mill race. By the time the channel reached the mill, its height above the river meant that it was able to drive a water wheel that could power machinery.

Waterside mills were very common in the hilly area to the east of Ashton before coal-powered steam engines were able to power a greater number of machines, giving rise to the large multi-storey mills built in Ashton and other towns throughout the Victorian era.

(Click photo for larger version. Press Back button to return here.)

See Google Aerial View of this location.

For more Weekend Reflections from around the world, visit Newtown Area Photo.


  1. Nice path for a walk.
    What kind of mill was it?
    Looks like a weaving shed in the distance.

  2. The mill was behind the camera, Jocodeane. It was called Rasping Mill. It was a water-powered woollen mill built in 1775 and contained equipment such as a teaser, scribbling engines, mules and fulling stocks. I believe it was called a scribbling mill.

    It was demolished in 1834 and replaced with a larger steam-powered mill. In 1899 it was expanded further by building large single-storey weaving sheds over what had been the mill lodge (pond). You can see these in the aerial view.

    There is a web page about the history of this mill here.

    The building with the rows of small windows in the photo is a three-storey building built over the mill race so it may have also made use of water power. It looks as if it had a weaving room on the top floor, in common with many early weavers' houses before the larger factories were built.

  3. To me, this is one of your best.
    I could spend a spring afternoon here.


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