Photos of Wigan
Photos of Wigan

Wigan Album

May Mill


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Item #: 28092
On the site of Wilde's Mill, a woollen mill was built in 1850 and destroyed by fire 13 June 1859. A second mill, known as Roper's mill was built and this also burnt down, The fire started in the engine house. In January 1889, the "May Mill Spinning Company limited" was formed to build a new fireproof mill to replace the one destroyed. The cornerstone was laid 25 March 1889, and the engines were dedicated May 1890. They were named Louisa and Helen.

May No 1 was driven by 800 hp cross compound engine by B Goodfellow, 1892. It had a 20 ft flywheel, 24 ropes operating at 62 rpm. The boilers were 30 ft by 8 ft high-pressure Lancashire boilers. The mill was lit by electricity gernerated by a Parson's dynamo.

May No 2 was driven by a 1500 hp cross compound engine by Ashton Frost, 1901. This had a 28 ft flywheel, 34 ropes operating at 62 rpm.

In 1946 May Mill had 77,964 ring spindles, but by 1948 this had fallen to 72,984. It was re-equipped around 1950. Between 1960 and 1962 the mill was converted to electric ring spinning frames. The mill was eventually taken over by Courtaulds in 1962—3 to produce carpet fibre and this it continued to do until the final closure on Friday, 17 October 1980.

At the invitation of the assistant manager, Mr. Bill Crank, the Winstanleys visited May Mill in September 1980. They said

"Although we expected to see some old spinning machines, we were very surprised to find so many still in use; in fact, there was very little new machinery. Many of the machines were pre-1920, and some dated to about the turn of the 20th century. Slubber and drawing frames were said to be part of the original May Mill equipment These were made in 1902 by Howard & Bullough of Accrington. Numerous carding frames by Platt Brothers of Oldham were dated 1905, 1907 and 1920, but some of these had been converted to suit Courtaulds' needs. Fly frames, also made by Howard & Bullough, were dated 1915. The scutchers made by Platt Brothers, were built in 1921 and 1924. Cone winders by Geo. Hattersley were made about 1950. Perhaps the most modern machines were ring spinning frames, dated 1967."
(info from Wikipedia)

Comment by: GW. on 2nd July 2016 at 00:51

This photo touches on the excellent book by Ray and Derick Winstanley 'Founded on Coal.' A facinating journey through Wigan history.

Comment by: alan winstanley on 2nd July 2016 at 14:45

When i was a young boy brought up at the half-way-house on ormskirk road i went to school at Highfield infants then juniors lastly Secondry , this mill i grew up with seeing it every time we went to play round were the YO-YO pit rooks were, and also when we would go to winkywood we went down foundry lane and to Blundell's Wood, Barton's Wood in those days you could hear the "hum"from the mill they employed a hell of a lot of women, happy days.

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