Sowcar mill was a small cotton mill in the river
meadow beside the Harrop brook at Sowcar* Farm. Built in 1802
by George Antrobus, sold to Francis Upjohn a cotton spinner,
bought by Sheldon in the 1820s, it was burnt down in 1831 and
never rebuilt. There are few obvious signs of its existence in
the field today, just traces of the leat and a few stones remain.
It was noted for its 27ft diameter water wheel, probably undershot,
and it's 12 horse power steam engine. There is no evidence of a
mill pond, so the water power must have been very limited, and
no doubt this led to the installation of the steam engine.
Destruction by fire was very common in the early mills. They were
constructed with timber intermediate floors and the machinery constantly
dripped oil which was soaked up by the floor. Plenty of flammable
cotton, the air was full of cotton dust, which can be explosive
in some conditions. The machinery was not always reliable, with
continuous movement causing friction, which in turn caused over-heating
followed by ignition - woosh! There were no smoke detectors or
fire alarms, no fire brigade to call out. Total destruction was
the usual result.
* Sowcar is pronounced Soo-ca, hard c, short a.
My thanks go to those who researched and discovered the history
that is presented in these pages. Please
read the full acknowledgement of their remarkable achievement.
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