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MILL HILL: THE AREA WHERE I GREW UP


by
Mike Sumner
 
I spent the first eleven years of my life living in the Mill Hill area of Livesey at 131, Shorrock Lane, adjacent to the cross-roads with Brothers Street. I was the son of Walter Sumner, the last of a three generation family of plumbers with their businesses in Mill Hill starting in the 1860/70’s with Robert Sumner who lived in the Zebudah Street area and later next to a work shop at 21, Stephen Street. Along with my brother I was the first son in the family not to train as a plumber. Robert’s son Thomas carried on the business as Tom Sumner using the workshop at 21, Stephen Street and living at 50, New Chapel Street which acted as both a home and a display shop at the front. Tom became quite an entrepreneur of his time and expanded the business, buying terraced properties to rent out and was an early owner of a motor bike and sidecar and one of the first to own a motor car. He spent a lot of time at Mill Hill Hotel and its bowling green where he generated business especially with the local textile mills where he was required to repair weaving shed roofs and water systems along with his other domestic trade. He was married to Hilda Crossley and had two sons both of whom trained as plumbers namely Walter and George and surprisingly in time both became meat inspectors before then deciding to take up the plumbing business with my father Walter taking over Tom’s business in Mill Hill and George developing a business in Leamington Road. My mother Ellen Sumner (nee Eddleston) was a school teacher first at St Luke’s later at various primary schools including Mill Hill County Primary. Both myself and my brother Philip attended Mill Hill County Primary School which was an imposing two storey brick built building fronting New Chapel Street.
 
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Mill Hill County Primary School
 
I remember the classrooms had wood and glass panelled walls/dividers that could be opened to enlarge the teaching space.
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An early 1900’s Photograph of one of the classrooms with double desks
 
At the front of the school alongside New Chapel Street there was a small narrow stone flagged playground for the use of infants (See photo below)
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To the rear of the school were two large playgrounds, one for the boys and one for the girls each having their own toilet block although without a complete roof. On the playgrounds were played a variety of games by both sexes within secure high railed walls. I also remember the large infant classroom where I first went with its sand pit and large wooden climbing frame providing a warm secure first educational experience, see photo below.

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Mill Hill Infants School in The 1950's
 

THE HISTORY OF MILL HILL

 
The history of Mill Hill is to be found in the Township of Livesey when originally along with Mill Hill it contained numerous other small hamlets including Bower House Fold, Stakes Hall, Overlockshaw, Moorgate Fold, Waterloo and parts of Ewood (see 1848 map). The landscape of Livesey spreads down the slopes of Bunkers Hill (700feet) to the lower River Darwen Valley and the flatter land offered pasture and meadow where some crops could be grown with the river separating it from the Townships of Blackburn, Witton, Cherry Tree and Pleasington. In early times coal was discovered in parts of Mill Hill and on the slopes of Bunker’s Hill and was extracted by open pits and small mines. The lower parts of Livesey near to Blackburn have shared its manufacturing industries since the 1700’s. Livesey Manor had ancient landowners at a time when the main occupation would have been farming via isolated communities. In the 13th Century Adam de Buri had lands in Livesey including Astley land and at Ewod including Fernihirst. Then during the 14th Centuary various members of the Ewode family conveyed or bought lands off the Livesey family whose earliest family members can be traced to Galfrid and Henry de Levesaye (1220). Various members of the family of Levesaye/Levesay/Levesey held lands in the area and by 1339 John de Livesey was Lord of Livesey Manor followed by Galfred (Geoffrey) and another John Livesey (1504). When James Livesey died in 1548 the estate had 10 messuages and 200 acres of arable land together with 40 acres of meadow, 100 acres of pasture and 200 acres of moorland with annual rents of lands and tenements being 24shillings.The manor then passed through various members of the Livesey family to Ralph Livesey in 1654 who built a new wing on Livesey Hall (1668) and became a governor of Blackburn Grammar School to be followed later by other members of the family. Ralph’s son Porter took over the manor in 1725 followed by a Ralph who died in 1760 leaving the manor and the Townships of Pleasington, Studlehurst and Balderston to Robert Livesey in trust. Eventually the Livesey manor was sold in 1805 to Henry and William Feilden. During the period 1840-1930’s the Parkers leased and occupied the Old Hall which operated as a dairy farm. Livesey Hall was situated off Preston Old Road near the present day Crescent and had long building with wings. Over the doorway in the central porch were the arms of the Livesey family with the initials J.L.A.L. (James and Alice Livesey) and dated 1608.
 
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Livesey Old Hall in the 1890’s
 
When the Feilden family acquired the property, the brothers divided the house in two and the part owned by Henry Feilden of Witton Park eventually became ruinous while that of William Feilden of Feniscowles was repaired and made into a farm house.
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Livesey Old Hall in 1963
 
Another ancient family associated with the Livesey Township is that of the Astley’s who originated from the House of Astley in the Chorley area. They were seated from the 1500’s at Ewood and Stakes Hall in the Mill Hill area starting with William Astley in 1513 whose son George took over the estate followed by Thomas who married Mary daughter of Richard Livesey in 1574. The Astley family were also in the 16th and 17th centuries the chief proprietors in Witton and some of the family lived in Witton Old Hall which they built close to Preston Old Road. When Thomas died in 1623 Stakes hall had 20 acres of land, with 8acres of meadow and 12 acres of pasture with another 6 messuages and a further 20 acres of land improved from the waste land of Livesey together with lands in Witton and Mellor. Close to Stakes Hall the Astley’s built a 17th century farmhouse at Overlockshaw another hamlet in Livesey and over the porch doorway were the initials T.A. & R.A. 1691 (possibly Thomas and Richard Astley).
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Overlockshaw Farmhouse built in 1691
 
At a later date the Turners’ occupied the farmhouse and by then it had land stretching from Overlockshaw up to Livesey Branch Road covering 25 acres with mostly meadow land consisting of a farmhouse, barn, shippon and other out-buildings together with a workers cottage and garden. It also had a carriageway which ran from the farm to Stakes Hall built by the Astley’s who had owned both properties. The farmhouse itself survived till 1921 when it was demolished and the Palladium Cinema built which in turn was replaced by the later Co-Operative supermarket which is now a Spar, At a later date two further members of the Astley family took over the Stakes Hall estate when Richard Astley died, both called Thomas, then George Astley whose son Hammerton Astley, who died in 1763 then ran the estate and became a governor of Blackburn Grammar School with the Astley family also living in the Preston area at Fishwick. George Astley was the last member of the family to live and run the Stakes Hall estate and he was employed as an apothecary, he had to sell the estate because he was in debt. The estate consisted of the old Hall which had parkland and a carriageway alongside the River Darwen stretching to Ewood, together with lands stretching to Bower House Fold and beyond. The hall also had a farmhouse and outbuildings close by, most of which is still standing between the Stakes Hotel and Spring Bank Mill on Albert Street and are now divided into units including motor vehicle repair (see photo below).
 
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Stakes Hall showing Spring Bank Mill
 
The entrance to the hall’s drive was in what is now Albert Street opposite the Stakes Hotel where the Waterloo and Cardwell Textile Mills were sited this century and built on the estate land after an earlier Print Works. The hall itself was demolished in the early 1800’s when the site was used for textile printing. Prior to this it had passed first to the Haworths’ and then Robert Turner who built the print works where an early type of calico printing took place when the textile industry was in its infancy. Within the Livesey Township the first textile industry development was by a Thomas Yates who in 1748 was a dyer and calico printer at Moorgate Fold, probably of Blackburn Checks. Later the Haworth’s who became connected by marriage to the Peels had established a printworks on the side of the river at Stakes Hall and in turn were taken over by Robert, William and John Turner in 1812 who had a warehouse at 92, Darwen Street. They had earlier established valuable print and bleach works at Ewood in the eighteenth century using water diverted from the River Darwen via a mill race which originally had been used by a corn mill and the Turners extended the mill race all the way to Mill Hill’s Stakes Hall site (see 1848 map) and beyond returning the water back into the River Darwen close to Bower House Fold.
Another old house in the Bower House Fold area close to Mill Hill and the River Darwen was Mill Hill House. The house was built on raised land overlooking the River Darwen where later Mill Hill St. Peters Roman Catholic Church was built and whose school occupied land that was previously the house’s garden. The house and estate were sold in 1843 when the Turners moved to Shrigley Hall in Cheshire, at this time the house was referred to as Mill Hill Mansion. William Turner had lived in the house with his wife when he was in Blackburn and became a town member of parliament between 1835 and 1837 as a Whig. His wife Jane funded the building of the Turner Alms Houses at Bank Top, which were opened in February 1834. The Turner’s calico printing works extended from Stakes Hall to Bower House Fold. It is said that Mill Hill House had an underground strong room and dungeon with barred windows which was common at the time to protect inventions of the day when they were developing new textile machinery/processes. There was also a small well in the cellar because calico printing needed an almost limitless supply of water hence why print works were sited next to rivers/mill races. Remains of broken printing presses and slabs of stone used in the process of calico printing were apparently dumped in the cellar after the trade declined and left the district when cotton spinning/weaving mills developed including those owned by Joseph Eccles who was an important textile manufacturer from Darwen. Joseph Eccles bought out the Turners printing business in1843 and eventually demolished the old print works to develop Mill Hill Cotton Mill a large spinning mill (see 1848 map). When Joseph Eccles died in 1861 his trustees had difficulty letting out Mill Hill House where he had lived because it was affected by pollution from the River Darwen as textile mills used its water. In its heyday Mill Hill House was the focal point of village life at Mill Hill as Joseph Eccles and his family from the manor house along with village people often attended garden parties, field days either at the house or elsewhere. Later after he built Mill Hill Congregational Church and School on New Chapel Street more of these were transferred to the school room. From 1861 the house was offered for let when it was described as having a dining room, library, two drawing rooms, seven bedrooms, kitchen, stables, coach house and extensive gardens/orchards and a greenhouse. It was leased by Doctor Thomas Dugdale before he built Griffin Lodge near his textile mills at Griffin and the Mr. Whalley who was involved in the textile trade at various locations. Close to Mill Hill House was a weaving shed built in 1871 called Primrose Mill nick-named “Smut Factory”. Below Mill Hill House was the old stone bridge over the River Darwen on Mill Hill Bridge Street later replace with a wider more modern concrete bridge. Mill Hill House was demolished in 1881 by the trustees of Joseph Eccles to develop terraced houses needed for the nearby textile factory workers and Mill Hill St. Peters Roman Catholic Church and Church school built in its gardens.
  
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Mill Hill St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church
 
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Mill Hill St. Peter’s Roman Catholic School
 
At this time the earliest spinning textile mills in the Mill Hill area namely Mill Hill and Moorgate Fold Cotton Mills had become huge developments in Livesey and over the next thirty years encourage further textile developments in the area increasing to a total of twelve spinning/weaving mills. The largest of the these mills were Mill Hill Cotton Mill which in 1880 had 40,000 spindles and 900 looms owned by Hodgson Swan and Co. and Waterfall Mill owned by John Fish.
 
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Mill Hill Cotton Mill
 
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Waterfall Mill
 
In 1880 the industry employed 6000 people and led to a huge growth in the population of Livesey 1801–1184 people, 1841–1996 people and in 1876–4500 people.
 
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Map of Mill Hill and Livesey in 1848
 
The 1848 Ordnance Survey Map shows the newly created railway between Preston and Blackburn which along with the earlier Leeds Liverpool Canal had huge embankments to take them across the River Darwen valley to provide essential transport for the textile industry to develop, carrying coal needed for steam power to run mill machinery and raw cotton brought from Liverpool or Manchester needed for fibres. At this time however there were no railway sidings or station built in Mill Hill therefore Mill Hill Cotton Mill relied on a single line track from the canal with waggons running down to the mill using the gradient to bring in raw cotton and coal and used horses to pull them back up to the canal with finished goods. At this time the mill had also constructed a large mill pond for its water supply to create steam power. The canal built in 1816 provided work for the smithy at Overlockshaw with horses used to pull barges along the canal and pull trucks up the tramway from Mill Hill Mill. Bower House Fold was a sizeable hamlet at this time whose occupants would probably have been working in hand loom weaving, cotton spinning at Mill Hill Cotton Mill or as farm labourers near Primrose Hill. Moorgate Fold Mill was built as many mills were alongside the canal with a direct loading bay from it to receive and dispatch materials by barge and receive water from it in addition to the two large mill ponds for creating steam power.
  
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Early Photo of Moorgate Fold Mill Operatives
 
In the lower Mill Hill area close to the River Darwen are two large ponds whose water was probably used for the earlier textile print works of the Turners. Stakes Hall can be seen as a fairly large hamlet with the buildings closest to the river being the print works (the old Hall had by now been demolished) with most of the houses being clustered on the lower banks of the new railway at the bottom of what is now Parkinson Street. At this time the mill race can be seen running from Ewood past Stakes and on to Mill Hill Mill where former print works were sited and then on to re-join the River Darwen. Another large hamlet called Waterloo in the north of Mill Hill alongside Livesey Branch Road consisted of rows of cottages presumably built from the time of the Battle of Waterloo for farm workers as the map shows the landscape around is still dominated by fields of meadow/pasture with numerous isolated farm buildings and hand loom weavers as they display classic styles used by weavers of this date.
 
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Stone Cottages On Livesey Branch Road at Waterloo c.1900
 
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Aspin’s Farm Off Shorrock Lane With lands in Livesey
 
At the end of the row of cottages on Livesey Branch Road at its junction with Shorrock Lane was Waterloo Tavern which was probably a coaching inn. An 1827 plan of this area shows there was a workhouse situated close to Waterloo on the other side of Livesey Branch Road a common feature of those days.
 
 
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Plan of Estates in the North Livesey Area
 
This workhouse was later transformed into the Factory Arms Inn by 1849 which later changed its name to the Livesey New Inn.
 
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Livesey New Inn
 
By the 1940’s this inn ceased trading and the building was converted into flats known as Waterloo Mansions and was eventually knocked down to make way for new housing at Parklands Way. To the north of Mill Hill and the railway is a brick kiln where clay was cut into brick shapes and then fired in the kilns. This indicated the growing need of bricks for mills and their terraced houses, a change from the earlier use of stone. To the south of Mill Hill across the River Darwen in Witton there was a large brick field near to what is now called Redlam where even earlier brick works dried the cut clay outside. Mill Hill House (see earlier notes) can be seen on the map
to the left of the words Mill Hill next to a woodland copse and garden. Interestingly todays Mill Hill Bridge over the railway is called Eccles Bridge indicating the closeness and importance of Joseph Eccles Textile Printing. The name Moor Gate Bridge (separate words) indicates that north of that point towards Bunkers Hill was at one time moorland and had mostly been improved for pasture of late. Bower House Lane leading down from Waterloo to Bower House Fold and Mill Hill (today called Shorrock Lane) was an important route especially for the isolated farms on lands stretching on both sides of it some whose farms have names that were carried forward when the area was later developed e.g. Bentham’s (Bentham Road) and King’s Fold (King’s Road). Also Wellington Road/Livesey Branch Road was important for connecting Ewood to Preston Old Road and Preston and had a Toll House called White cottage at its junction with Gib Lane. There was also a road from Witton crossing the River Darwen into Mill Hill but other than these the map shows the area is dominated by paths and tracks for communication as most people walked or used horses or horse and cart. Mill Hill Independence Chapel School is shown in Overlockshaw, this was one of the earliest schools in the area although it first started in 1844 as a Sunday school inside a farm house at Stakes Hall with public worship also conducted in the same room. This school was built by Joseph Eccles of Mill Hill House at a cost of £1,500 and was also used as a church. However this was inadequate for the church needs and in 1860 Mill Hill Congregational Church was opened with its Italian styled architecture which had a square clock tower facing New Chapel Street and lent its name to it. In 1848 New Chapel Street was merely a track through this central area. The churches tower clock was installed in 1913 for the communities use with four six foot diameter clock faces and a Cambridge chime for its bells.
 
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Rear View of the Mill Hill Congregational Church and Tower From Kings
Road Before The Clock Dials Were Installed
 
The cost of building the church was £6000 raised by local subscriptions with the former chapel at Overlockshaw now devoted to day and Sunday school use with added classrooms built in1876.
  
 
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1895 Ordnance Survey map of Mill Hill and Livesey
 
The 1895 Ordnance Survey map shows vast changes have occurred over the 47 years since 1848 with the most significant being the huge rise in cotton textile mills reflecting the full effects of the Industrial Revolution, as textiles moved totally from the earlier domestic home based activities to huge textile mills powered by steam engines. Alongside their development can be seen a large increase in housing as row upon row of mill workers terraced houses had sprung up around the mills often built by their owners for rent to cater for the large growth in population as people moved from rural areas to this new source of work both in the cotton mills and the associated industries that fed them. By now Mill Hill Cotton Mill had grown larger and now had large railway sidings alongside it which solved its earlier transport problems and it had also developed a further large pond off New Chapel Street to feed its needs (this later became Mill Hill Park when it was filled in after steam power was replaced), the mill now had weaving in addition to spinning sections. Moorgate Mill had also enlarged as it now combined weaving with spinning as automated looms had now been developed as a result it now had more extensive mill ponds. By 1895 nine new mills had been built in the area for cotton textiles along with a mill producing bobbins, shuttles etc. on Moorgate street. The new mills included the large Waterfall Mills which had a huge steam engine room and was owned by John Fish. It included red bricked four storey spinning mills with weaving sheds added to the rear near the mill race and had a long frontage on Queen Victoria Street. John Fish had started cotton manufacturing on a small scale in Ainsworth Street and built up capital to build waterfall Mills. In 1860 Waterfall Mills had 900 looms and 75,564 spindles with John Fish later buying Primrose Mill in the Bower House Fold area another new mill which had access to the mill race and a large mill pond (see map) John Fish and his three sons ran the two mill complexes till 1874 when a limited company was formed. Primrose Mill was nicknamed “Smuts” and had both spinning and weaving sections and a large mill housing area around it including Primrose Terrace. Griffin Mills on the edge of Mill Hill were part of a huge mill development of stone and red bricked spinning and weaving mills sited on both sides of Stancliffe Street. The first spinning mill was built in 1852 by Thomas Dugdale who was a doctor but was drawn into cotton manufacturing during the boom times of the early 1850’s so his early profession gave the mill its nickname of “Physic”. This mill on the right bank of the River Darwen was enlarged several times with the last occasion being in 1884 and the first weaving shed built in 1872 with a second shed built in 1887. Thomas Dugdale built a large mansion close to his mills in 1853 called Griffin Lodge where he lived for the remainder of his working life and was followed by his son Adam Dugdale.
 
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Aerial View of the Mill Hill Area and its Mills and Mill Housing
 
Woodfall Mill was small in comparison to the others being a weaving shed built opposite Mill Hill Cotton Mill on Mill Hill Street in 1860 by David Mercer and surrounded by trees earning it the nickname “Th’ out o’ Seight Mill”. After 1870 this mill passed to Marsden Brothers when it had 312 looms and later was run by Hodgkinson and Codling along with their Mill Hill Cotton Mill. Bridge Mill was an old stone built mill sited alongside the Leeds and Liverpool Canal with its own loading bay and was both a spinning and weaving mill with a mill housing area around it in the Moorgate/New Wellington Street areas (see map). Spring Bank Mill at Stakes (see Photograph above)Hall was a stone and brick built spinning mill with weaving sheds added later. It was sited alongside the mill race running from Ewood and was erected in the 1860’s first as a small stone built mill and later as a much larger brick built four storey building on Albert Street adjoining Stakes Hall farm buildings. In the 1870’s David and William Whalley ran the mill along with their other mill at Greenbank in Blackburn.
 
Cardwell Mill also on Albert Street was a large red bricked Spinning Mill with weaving sheds attached on the banks of the River Darwen where the original Stakes Hall had been sited. It was first built as a spinning mill in1855 and enlarged to 30,320 spindles in 1882 by Thomas Eccles who had bought the mill in1875 and added weaving sheds in1887 with 516 looms.
 
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Cardwell Mill Sited on Albert Street
 
Albert Mill was a medium sized weaving shed built of stone on Albert Street in the 1850’s with 133 looms and later enlarged to take 411looms. It was nicknamed “The Mushroom” because it was said to have been built overnight and in 1885 had 140 employees and specialized in making handkerchiefs. A fourth cotton mill on Albert Street was Waterloo Mill built alongside Cardwell mill, the River Darwen and the side of the railway in 1853 by H. Graham and Co. as a weaving mill with 400 looms with 80 more looms added later with an extension. By 1887 the Porter brothers ran the firm along with their other mills at Greenbank. A large cotton mill on the edge of Livesey close to Ewood was Albion Mill built in the 1850’s by George Whitely as a spinning mill with weaving sheds added later. This mill had a dominant position by the Leeds Liverpool Canal with its own loading bays and could easily be seen from Ewood and Bolton Road with its distinctive clock face. 
 
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Albion Mill alongside the Leeds Liverpool Canal
 
The photo below shows the large fly-wheel (50 tons) that operated the steam engine which turned 18,600 revolutions a day to operate the mill machinery and was broken up for scrap in 1951.
 
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Albion Mill’s huge fly-wheel for operating machinery
 
​Victoria Mill built by the Leeds Liverpool Canal close to Bonsall Street had mill housing built around it (see map) and its own small mill pond for steam power to operate its many looms. The last mill built in Mill Hill was Pioneer Mill built by Blackburn Pioneer Mill company at the turn of the century on the site of a former coal yard (see map). It is not shown on the 1895 map and was sited on the banks of the Leeds Liverpool Canal close to king’s Bridge/kings Road by Mill Hill Church. It was an up-to date mill with a weaving shed with 620 looms and a winding room on its upper floor and employed 230 people manufacturing dhooties (for the Indian/Asian market) along with fine cloths. The mill’s engine was made by Clayton and Goodfellow of Blackburn and the machinery by W. Dickinson and Sons also of Blackburn with its boiler created by Yates and Thomas another Blackburn firm.
 
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Pioneer Mill Alongside the Leeds Liverpool Canal
 
Apart from cotton mills William Moss had a large bobbin/shuttle works at the top of Moorgate Street (see map).The only other significant industry in the area at this time was brick and tile making because of the demand from mill and mill house building indicated by the huge growth in the earlier brick works to the east of New Chapel Street where Mill Hill Brick and Tile Works were situated. Here can be seen clay pits where local clay was used (see the 1895 map). Another large brick works was built by the Orlando Brothers about 1847 alongside the Leeds Liverpool Canal close to Brothers Street whose owner also had a colliery at Livesey in 1874 and had previously been an engineer at Blackburn Gas Works. Originally clay for the brick works was extracted from pits in the Meadowhead area off Shorrock Lane and transported by a tramway down to the canal side kilns (see map) and by 1871 37 workers were employed until 1886 when Livesey Brick and Tile Works was formed. The Orlando Brothers made a large variety of bricks including fire bricks and fire clay gas retorts, salt glazed sewage pipes, bends and junction pieces. Bricks from here were used to build Mill Hill Congregational church but later it had to be relined with Accrington Bricks as the old bricks had weathered. The photo below taken in 1891 of the brick work’s workers shows that even at work in those days headgear was always worn and provides a telling glimpse of social conditions of the day through the employment of child labour as they were essential bread- winners in many households despite the Factory Act of 1891 raising the minimum working age from 10 to 11 years.
 
 
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Brick Workers at the Orlando’s Works in1891
 
Next to the Orlando Brothers works was a chemical works owned by the Mallibeu
Bothers with obvious signs of workings (see map).
By 1895 Mill Hill had its own railway station (opened in 1884), railway sidings where raw materials could be unloaded and finished goods dispatched to markets and its own engine shed for the Liverpool, Blackburn and Accrington Line (see the 1895 map). This indicated the growing importance of rail transport and the decline of the canals as rail speeded up travel especially as rail connections had by now considerably grown.
 
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Mill Hill Railway Station Entrance and Booking Office
On Eccles Bridge New Chapel Street
 
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Mill Hill Railway Station platforms With a View of The
Sidings And Engine House
 
The railway goods yard at Mill Hill was a great boost to the many central cotton mills,
e.g. Mill Hill , Waterfall, Woodfold, Waterloo, Cardwell, Primrose and Griffin mills sited away from the canal making it easier for the movement of goods. Since 1848 the Turnpike Toll roads suffered due to the increased use of rail travel therefore roads became free of tolls due to the competition e.g. Livesey Branch Road toll ceased in 1873. White Cottage sited at the junction of Gibb Lane at one time owned by the Fielden Brothers and tenanted out was an old Toll House (see photo below).
 
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White Cottage Toll House
 
The 1895 map shows a large increase in streets built to connect the many newly built mill terraced houses and shows a more well defined road network with Shorrock Lane, King’s Road and Moorgate Street providing good links from Livesey to Mill Hill and Mill Hill Bridge Street, Queen Victoria Street and Parkinson Street linking to New Chapel Street (central Mill Hill) from Spring Lane, Witton and Blackburn.
 
 
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Spring Lane Linking Into Mill Hill From Witton

Between 1895-1900 Blackburn Rural District Council administered local government services in Mill Hill/Livesey as the area was now incorporated into Blackburn as the town grew steadily outwards and met this settlement. When Lancashire County Council was formed in 1888 it took over the repair of main roads, largely the old turnpike roads of the area with many of the streets originally being in private hands so street surfaces varied in quality from earth to cobble. New Chapel Street by 1895 had become a vibrant centre of Mill Hill (as today) lined with a great variety of shops offering all kinds of services and goods as Mill Hill was very much a self-contained community with an increased population who required a whole range of necessities without having to travel into Blackburn centre.
 
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New Chapel Street Looking Towards The Railway Station 1900’s
 
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New Chapel Street Looking Towards Mill Hill
Congregational Church and Kings Road
 
 Alongside these developments many public houses were established offering mill workers and local inhabitants an outlet for their limited social time with Mill Hill Hotel on Mill Hill Bridge Street being a good example with its own bowling green as an added attraction
 
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Mill Hill Hotel On Mill Hill Bridge Street 1900’s
 
Alternatively the Navigation Inn on the banks of the Leeds Liverpool Canal off King’s Road was a more typical local inn but featured prominently as it was close to Angela Street where many canal bargees lived and had its own stables behind probably for bargees’ horses.
 
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Navigation Inn With its Landlady Mrs Riding- 1900’s
 
 
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Bargees Posing At The Rear of Navigation Inn – 1900’s
 
 
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View From The Front Of The Navigation Inn With The Canal
 And Victoria Mill In The background – 1910’s
 
Mill Hill Council School had now grown much larger due to the increased number of children in the area and now had well equipped classrooms and play areas. In 1903 a new wing was added to the school with an Assembly hall on the second floor and a new infant’s school on the ground floor. Mill Hill St. Peters Catholic School had also been built and was now a large two storey church and school to meet the needs of the Mill Hill and Bower House areas with accommodation on the ground floor for over 600 children and on the upper floor seating for 750 people in the church area costing £5000 with father Kirwan raising £3500 towards this. Other than this Bentham Street Primitive Methodists had grown since 1822 starting in a small cottage, then moving to a corrugated iron structure on land by Bentham Street but by 1895 had a larger structure to meet its local needs but by 1899 had started to build a church and school which was completed in 1910 at a cost of £1500. The old iron corrugated building was moved to the rear as a Sunday school. The new church can accommodate over 200 people and is built of brick. The first minister of Bentham Road church was Thomas Maxwell who served from 1886 to 1889.
 
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 Bentham Road Methodist Church
 
 
St. Andrews school was erected in1849 on Livesey Branch Road helped by donations from the Feilden family (William and Joseph) with the school room built to meet the needs of children in the Moorgate/Livesey area and also operated as a church room for local worshippers. However it was too small for a church therefore funds were raised and the foundation stone laid for the new church on the opposite side of Livesey Branch Road close to Moorgate Street in 1866 by Mrs. Joseph Feilden. The Gothic styled church was then built by Messrs. Achwall and Broughton at a cost of £4500 rising to £6000 due to additional work. Once built the church could accommodate 652 people with the church land having been bought from the trustees of J. Eccles. George Whiteley who had his large cotton mill nearby at Ewood and who lived at Woodlands, Livesey contributed freely to the church building fund helped by the actions of Reverend T.C. Watson with his fund raising activities and a bazaar opened by Henry Feilden at the Town hall Blackburn. The church opening and consecration was conducted by the Bishop of Manchester on the 17th February 1877 and my great-great grandparents Mr. Eddleston and Miss Jane Howarth (or Lawson) were the first couple to be married at this church and were given a large bible in recognition.
 
 
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The Parish Church of St. Andrews, Livesey
 
 
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A Group of Pupils at St. Andrews Primary School
With Their Teacher 1905
 
The above picture taken in 1905 shows the teacher with a class of 34 boys and was taken in the playground to the rear of the school which also took on the role as a Sunday School for children of the area. St Andrew’s Church was closely connected to Immanuel Church at Feniscowles which was originally its parent church and part of the parish.
 
 
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Ordnance Survey Map of Mill Hill and Livesey 1935
 
 
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Weaving Operatives at Pioneer Mill Who Have Decorated The Weaving Shed With
 Bunting to Celebrate The Coronation of George V1 In 1936
 
 
Malvern Mill was a large weaving mill built on the site of the old brick and tile works of the Orlando Brothers. Textile in the area was still surviving but had been through many boom and bust periods as companies changed hands or became empty due to the downturn and not helped by world wars. The other major changes shown on the map are the increase in terraced housing infilling open spaces and increasing urban sprawl especially in the Mill Hill, Bower House Fold and Waterfall areas with most of this housing built in the 10 years following 1895. The largest growth of the grid-like housing areas was west of New Chapel Street where streets such as Francis Street, St. Georges Avenue and Stephen Street were completely infilled around Mill Hill School. Another area of increased housing is a lateral development along Shorrock lane where semi-detached houses were first built. Blackburn Corporation also started to build new council housing from 1919 with a pilot scheme at Green Lane between Brothers Street, Shorrock Lane and Livesey Branch Road. These houses were semi-detached with bathrooms and inside toilets for the first time as facilities improved. The first houses were completed in 1920 and by 1935 houses had been completed around the edges of the area alongside Livesey Branch Road and Brothers Street. Evidence of increased brick and tile production to the east of New Chapel Street to meet the early house building from 1895 is shown but by 1935 this had decreased. Other changes in the area shown on the 1935 map are the increase in places of worship and schools to meet the needs of the growing population. St. Aidan’s Church of England School had its origins as a Sunday School where services were also run in a room at Stakes Hall unofficially dignified by the name Stakes Hall Cathedral. Later a foundation stone for a new school was laid by Sir John Rutherford Bart and over time with fund raising a school was built in the early 1900’s on Norfolk Street and additions added to it as it grew in size. However the school was difficult to use as a church as equipment had to be continually moved to create space for services. As a consequence although St. Aidans parish was announced on 22nd December 1925, it was a parish without a church which therefore became a priority for fund raising to build one. A new church and vicarage was built by 1932 with a large red brick chapel capable of holding 300 people and a grand vicarage built next to it.
 
 
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St. Aidan’s Church and Vicarage
 
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Laying of St. Aidan’s Foundation Stone 1931
 
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Rose Queen Coronation at St. Aidan’s Church
 
In 1890 a Gospel hall was established in Moorgate Street in a small building but as the population rose it was decided to build a new Hall on a suitable site alongside New Wellington Street with a central hall and classrooms, giving accommodation for 500 persons. The brick built Elim Gospel Hall was formerly opened on the 8th March 1913 at a cost of £1300 (see photo below). An additional church built in Mill Hill since 1895 was St. Georges Free Church built on St. Georges Avenue and opened in 1907founded by the Reverend Henry Sebay.
 
 
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Elim Gospel Hall on New Wellington Street
 
Another notable feature of the 1935 map is Green Park Recreation Ground that was established alongside the Leeds Liverpool Canal embankment south-east of Mill Hill Brick and Tile works. This had four bowling greens including two circular ones and established garden areas indicating the growing need for public leisure facilities being met here by the Local Authority Parks Department. At the same time football pitches had been established on both sides of Griffin Mills with Mill Hill St. Peter’s and Griffin Football pitches. By 1935 there was a much larger system of roads and streets and all major roads through the area had been upgraded by widening,  better surfaces and improved bridges as motor transport was more evident especially bus services for the increased population use.
 
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The Opening of Moorgate Street Bridge Over The Canal
 
During this period of development there had been a significant increase in bus transport replacing earlier trams, first by the Blackburn Bus Company providing easier access into Mill Hill and Livesey from other areas of Blackburn.
 
 
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Blackburn Bus Company Lion Coaches Advert 1928
 
Blackburn Bus.jpg 
Blackburn Bus Company Leyland G Type Bus 1926 That
Was Taken Over by Blackburn Corporation Bus Company
 
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St. George’s Church Outing by Charabanc 1920/30’s
 
Blackburn Council had by now started a new orbital road route in the 1930’s to join Preston New Road via Buncer Lane, Spring Lane and Hollin Bridge Street to Bolton Road on the fringe of Mill Hill/Livesey which would significantly improve access into Mill Hill as motor traffic increased.
  
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A Section of The New Orbital Road AQlong Hollin Bridge Street
where The River Darwen is Covered Over by The Road
  
 At the time of the 1935 map all cotton mills operating in the area were now using electric power rather than the earlier steam power to operate machinery.
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A Battery Filling of Shuttles For an Automatic Lom at Waterfall Mill
 
During this period local business premises grew further along Mill Hill Street, New Chapel Street and New Wellington Street and along streets off them to meet the growing population’s needs e.g. G. L. Pratt’s Cobblers Shop at the top of Parkinson Street a family business that continues to today after it evolved from shoes to sports equipment.
 
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George Pratt’s Shoe Repair Shed on Parkinson Street-1950’s
 
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Map of Mill Hill And Livesey Area 2014
 
The above map shows that over the last 79 years from 1935 the area has gone through the largest changes in its history as the area has become completely urbanised and is now an extension of Blackburn Borough and no longer independent. There have been huge changes to the industry of the area as many of the former textile mills have been demolished or changed into units for other work. This was due to the textile industry in Lancashire almost going out of existence due to foreign competition and the old sites being redeveloped into new service industry centres or sub-divided into smaller units that are rented out. Mills that have been demolished include Mill Hill, Woodfold, Waterloo, Cardwell, Albert, Primrose, Malvern, Moorgate, Bridge and Albion mills. Surviving mills include parts of Waterfall, Pioneer, Griffin and Spring Bank mills. The effects of these developments are summarised below:-
 
1.    Mill Hill Cotton Mill: Demolished and the site used by Neilds Scrap Metal but presently unused.
2.    Woodfold Mill: Demolished and a workshop for the blind built on the site but more recently used for the disabled.
3.    Waterfall Mills: A large section has been demolished, another large section used by MDA storage with the remainder sub-divided into smaller service industry units.
4.    Waterloo Mill: Both mills have been demolished and both sites redeveloped
Cardwell Mill: Into a huge new storage building for MDA storage.
5.    Albert Mill: Demolished and a small private housing estate built on the site of        mixed types.
6.    Primrose Mill: Demolished with part of the site developed into St. Peters Primary School and the rest as recreation facilities.
7.    Victoria Mill: Both mills demolished and their sites redeveloped into a new
Malvern Mill: Private housing area and the rest with new service industry    
           units.
8.    Moorgate Mill: Demolished with the site used for a new private housing   
           estate of mixed types.
9.    Bridge Mill: Demolished with new industrial buildings built on the site now  
           used to produce medical supplies.
10. Pioneer Mill: Taken over by Netlon who produce a wide variety of netting but
           recently taken over by another service industry user.
11. Griffin Mills: Was taken over by Dutton Carpets but more recently by another
service Industry user.
12. Spring Bank Mill: Taken over originally by Fenniger and Blackburn shoe
makers but now operated by a heavy engineering company
13. Albion Mill: Sub-divided into service industry users including leisure.
 
A new industrial estate was built in the 1990’s in the Waterfall area between Waterfall Mill and Hollin Bridge Street with a mixture of different sized units with a variety of service industry users. The old Stakes Hall farm buildings are still intact but now sub-divided into small industrial units mostly for motor vehicle service industries. At the Ewood end of Livesey Branch Road a small retail park was developed where Iceland and McDonalds are the main users. At the top end of Parkinson Street is sited Station Garage that deals in car repairs.
The largest changes however in the area has been the huge increase in modern housing infilling many former industrial brown-field sites and other unused land or farm land alongside large changes to the character of many existing traditional terraced housing. Since 1935 the large Green Lane Council Housing Estate was completed after the 2nd. World War in the early 1950’s and mostly consists of semi-detached housing with some shops to provide services. In more recent times the estate has been upgraded by council make-overs and many occupiers have bought their houses under Government Right to Buy Schemes. Another large council house development converted unused land on the former brick and tile works between New Wellington Street, St. Aidan’s Avenue and Albert Street in the early 1970’s which won an award for its design and facilities. This development included semi-detached, town houses and low level and high level flats together with innovative play areas and a social club.
 
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View of The High Rise Flats Off St. Aidans Avenue Under Construction
 
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1972 View of The Three Completed High Rise Flats
 
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A 1973 Aerial View of The Mill Hill Area And The New Council Estate
 
In more recent times the three high rise flats have been demolished and the cleared site used to build residential housing flats and a health centre. At an earlier period from the late 1960’s European funds have been used to radically upgrade large areas of existing terraced houses via renovation grants where whole rows were modernised with new external brick work, new roofs, new windows, new rear walls and new bathrooms with inside toilets. In other cases householders could apply individually for council grants to improve their buildings and as a result few original unchanged terraced houses now exist in Mill Hill, however in the upper Livesey area around Livesey Branch Road and Moorgate Street there have been fewer changes. Since the 1980’s huge areas of new modern housing as infilled many areas often with small private housing estates with semi-detached, town houses and detached dominating. The largest new housing area was developed between Kings Road and Moorgate Street and beyond towards Albion Street where larger housing estates have been created. In more recent times the whole area north of Livesey Branch Road has been developed with various housing estates significantly increasing the population of Livesey. This in turn has put pressure on existing services especially schools and led to new primary schools being built for St. Andrews and Meadowhead. During the 1950/60’s the ends of terraced housing streets off Parkinson Street were extended with semi-detached houses e.g. Norfolk, Suffolk and Hertford Streets. Finally over at Ewood open land near the Leeds Liverpool Canal was developed into car parks and a Traveller’s Site. Other changes in the area involved Mill Hill St Peters building a new church in the 1950’s and Mill Hill Chapel being demolished and the congregation relocating to a part of the old Mill Hill Primary School with other parts used by the Youth Service.
 
 
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The New Mill Hill St. Peters Church Under Construction
 
 
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Mill Hill Congregational Church In Its New Location
 
After numerous problems with flooding in the lowest parts of Mill Hill mainly in the Waterfall area where the River Darwen overflowed its banks considerable work was completed to create a new faster central river channel on its bed and repairs made to the brick walls of the banks to speed up the flow of water through the area with additional new concrete banks.
 
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View of The River Darwen Over Flowing at Hollin Bridge Street
 
 The original Palladium Cinema built in the Overlockshaw area of Mill Hill has been replace by a mini supermarket originally the Co-Operative society and now a Spar.
 
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View of the Old Cinema And The New Supermarket Built In The 1960’s
 
Many changes have occurred to the areas road system due to the vast increase in motorised transport and have led parking restrictions on the main streets, speed bumps to slow traffic, increased traffic lights and pedestrian crossings and the removal of almost all the original cobbled street surfaces. Mill Hill Park has been upgraded and now includes a comprehensive children’s playground to add to the areas facilities. Mill Hill and Livesey are today a popular area to live with good local facilities and is well placed to meet the needs of the 21st century.