Eccles Shorrock: Building India Mill
1860 saw the start of building India Mill and the heroic story of Briggs Knowles deserves recording. The bricks and mortar to build the Chimney were wound up in a large box by rope over a pulley fixed to the top, which of course had to be moved higher as the Chimney grew taller. One day the procedure failed. The only solution was for a man to climb up and free the pully. The man who bravely volunteered for the task was Briggs Knowles. An account of his exploits was featured in the 'Blackburn Times', 1st October 1864:
"He climbed unaided up the chimney in order to loose the tangled pulley rope. He was loudly cheered by the bystanders for the calm, collected and persevering spirit manifested by him in performing the feat."
Twenty shillings was the reward offered to this brave gentleman. The building was more or less completed in 1867, and significantly seemed to reflect a more prosperous time for the town. A Table of Works in Darwen in 1867 shows how unemployment had improved since 1861-1864. The Table illustrates that there were now were now 32 Cotton Weaving Works employing nearly 7,000 people with an Annual Production of 28,550,00 lbs of cloth.
Social dinners were arranged to celebrate the building's completion. The next enlightened step was to use the Mill in order to host the Art Treasures Exhibition in May 1868 in the hope that the money raised would finance the building of Belgrave Congregational School. The whole scale of the Exhibition was colossal for its time, and visitors flocked to Darwen from all over the North West. Click here to read more details about India Mill.
The education of Eccles and Ralph
Death and Marriage
Events during the 1860's
Decline in fortunes
The end of an era
Bibliography and Acknowledgments