This mill was located on the south side of the Tame opposite Denshaw fold, but originally on land belonging to the Broadmeadow estate. The mill was not far from the ancient bridge, which carried the road through Friarmere from Delph, and led ultimately to Rochdale. This would be a logical site for an early mill yet there is no mill marked on Greenwood’s map of 1818, but it is marked complete with millpond on the 1820-21 map of Saddleworth, but not named.
1820 Map showing Denshaw Mill, south of the village but not named.
However the Order Books of 1776 record that Denshaw fulling Mill was built in that year. Registers also refer to William Rhodes, a fuller of Denshaw, and to Robert Gartside, a miller of Denshaw Mill.
It is possible to conjecture that the mill was either out of use or even non- existent in the 1820s. The original mill could well have burned down, or been in a state of disrepair – but was certainly back trading in the 1830s.
The construction of the original fulling mill is documented in Deeds. It was built by a yeoman, William Kelsall, from Longdendale, and Henry his son. On 1st August 1775 they were involved in two transactions. “Firstly they bought a piece of land 110yds x 3yds in the fields of John Scholefield of Grange, within Denshaw called Little Broad Meadow and adjoining a small river called Deanshaw Water, which said piece of land leads from said river to a certain fulling mill of William and Henry Kelsall, standing upon the said river.” Presumably this was for the construction of a millrace to the mill that was almost completed.
Then there was granted, “liberty to set a weir across Deanshaw Water adjoining a close belonging to James Buckley of Swainscroft, a yeoman, and Elizabeth his wife, and Hannah Gartside of Ogden, spinster, called the Long Road”. This was opposite the close of John Scholefield mentioned above. The mill was working in 1776 and was leased by the Kelsalls to various occupiers as mentioned in the Registers. In 1786 William released his share of the mill to his son Henry, along with messuages and cottages at Denshaw Fold – when George Platt was in occupation at the mill.
In 1799 the Little Broad Meadow field passed into the hands of John Buckley of Friar Lodge. He was the vicar of Heights Church at that time, and his purchase was, - “ subject to the privilege of a goit passing through the said close, already granted by lease of Henry Kelsall and other proprietors of Denshaw Mill.”
An 1801 Deed mentions a Robert Gartside of Denshaw Mill, a fulling miller.
In June 1804 Henry Kelsall disposes of the mill to Jesse Ainsworth, a gent of Rochdale. —“heretofore in the possession of George Platt, a tenant, late in tenure of said George Platt and others, but now of James Shaw.”
Ownership of Little Broad Meadow passed from John Buckley to Jonathon Winterbottom of Upper Broad Meadow in 1812.
Later Deeds refer to Thomas Shaw of Denshaw Mill in 1815. Then comes the gap referred to above. There is mention in Pigot and Dean’s Directory of 1821, and Bainses’ Directory of 1822, of Thomas Huntington, woollen printer of Denshaw – but this may have been done elsewhere.
The next reference, again a rather oblique one, is in the Church Rates Book of 1835, when John Gartside is listed as the occupier of – “ Broadmeadow Mill owned by an assignee of Jesse Ainsworth, and rated at a little over £16.”
The Reservoir Bill rates the mill at £48/16/6 in 1836, stating that there is a fall of 24½ ft, and a 7h.p. water wheel.
The next occupier was George Broadbent, described in 1838 in Pigot’s Directory as a “woollen manufacturer near Junction”. The mill was classed as a fulling mill on the 1845 map and George Broadbent of Denshaw Mill was still here in 1848.
The 1852 Church Rates Book states that Ammon Brierley and George Broadbent occupied the mill that was still owned by Jesse Ainsworth.
White’s Directory of 1853 names Ammon Brierley, “a scribbler and fuller of Denshaw”, and George Broadbent as “a wool manufacturer”.
By 1858 there appears to have been a slight change as Brierley is now classed as “ a wool spinner and carder”. Perhaps it is no longer a fulling mill! This ties in with Ammon Wrigley’s description of his father’s workplace in the 1860s as a wool carding and spinning mill.
The 1863 Poll List includes Edmund Buckley as occupier of Denshaw Mill, and Thornton writes of Amos Brierley and John Buckley running the mill around 1870. The Rateable Value quoted by Wrigley at this time was £47/11/0.
Worrall’s Directory of 1871includes Whitehead Bros of Denshaw – flannel manufacturers, but this was possibly reference to Langroyd Mill – but they were also at Denshaw Mill according to the 1874 Poll List. By 1890 the mill was in ruins.
It is interesting to note that Thomas Wrigley, Ammon’s father, who worked at the mill considered it to be “as rotten a place as ever fouled the green earth of Saddleworth” – where he earned 12/- per week, and the “truck” system was still thriving despite legislation to the contrary.