Cotton spinning mill, steam powered. Built as a ring spinning mill in 1898 by PS Stott for the Nile Spinning and Doubling Co. Ltd. Top storey added 1905, the card room extended 1907. Cast-iron and steel-framed with brick-arched ceilings. Brick cladding with flat, probably concrete roof.
PLAN: double mill, with central engine house, partially projecting to rear, and balanced to front by projecting tower.
EXTERIOR: 4 storeys, with carding areas to ground floor, spinning floors above. Each half has 9 bays divided by pilasters and each containing 3 very wide windows. Yellow brick bands as lintels. Decorative corbelling to upper storey. Angle pilasters with corbelled panels to stair towers at each corner. Stone parapet. Card room extensions, single-storeyed in right-hand section, 2-storeyed to left, similarly divided and detailed.
Some alterations to central tower, which possibly housed taking-in doors, but which was altered, probably on conversion to electrical power. Loading doors with hoist to right of 13-bay return elevation.Engine house partially within the body of the mill, and partially projecting from centre of rear elevation, with 2 round-arched windows, and lower upper windows. Stack with white brick lettering beyond engine house, linked by single storey boiler house.Sprinkler tower above engine ho~se, projecting by one storey above the roof line.
Detached office block to south of the site, single storeyd, brick with painted stone dressings.
The mill is of interest both as a good example of a double mill, and also as a relatively early example of a purpose-built ring spinning mill, the largest in the world at
the time of its construction.
(Gurr, Duncan and Hunt: The Cotton Mills of Oldham: Oldham: 1989-).
One assumes the Mill’s name was inspired by the origin of the cotton it spun…
This age of engine hall are one of, if not my favorite buildings to explore. They date from a time when industry and art went hand in hand. They are the ultimate example of the expression “cathedral of industry” in the fact that often the same level of beauty and craftsmanship is evident in your typical Edwardian engine house when compared with the more humble 20th C cathedrals. In every direction one is greeted with the fruits of the master of scalpel and chisel…
These buildings were built when the cotton industry was at its zenith, the mill owners making fortunes which are probably immeasurable by today’s standards of industry. I suppose one could think that spending that kind of dough on flashy buildings while the mill workers went home to an enameled plate of bread and dripping every night was deplorable, but that is just the way it was in those days!
Nile is finished in glazed brick, which I sometimes think is more understated than the examples out there with ceramic tiles. Despite each brick lacking that individual detail, the overall scene of each wall is quite breath-taking if you take the time to look, especially around the tops of the windows, which feature several rows of tapered bricks which form the arch. Each arch has been calculated to precision, with no half bricks or uneven spaces between each block. Nile is one of the few examples to retain its original window frames, and despite the fact they have not seen a paintbrush in a period of time greater than the time I have been alive, they are still clinging on, a testament to the quality of the wood and methods of manufacture.
When the age of steam came to an end in the 50’s 60’s the mighty engines, that had run continuously for half a century or more were removed, and these buildings with their odd arrangements of levels were essentially obsolete. The modern adaptations of such unusual spaces is often odd, and it is this situation that we find in Nile Mill Engine house…
The engine was originally half sunk into the floor, so when it is removed you have two piers with gaping holes down the side of each wall (it was this very arrangement that made the gauntlet such hard work!) At Nile it has been decided to replace the old floor with an asbestos roof for the level below. Fortunately there are a few I beams spanning this space, so it is possible to cross the void, with a few holes in the ‘big 6’ showing the hidden death below. Once inside it became the practice to check if the floor was stone or some kind of pigeon poo coated wood or asbestos.
Upon finding that the rope race was bricked off, I had a pop at trying to access the side rooms, which once contained the dynamo which gave the mill electricity (which was of course powered by the steam engine) This appeared at first to be simple, but once again checking to see what the floor’s surface was made of I found some kind of wood pulp held together with tree roots and guano. The trees, now long established from saplings are beginning to bud, further obscuring the tantalizing views of ancient volt meters and switch gear!
This was odd... in the pile of rubble next to the engine house were fragments of tile which was different to that inside?
Heaven knows what used to reside in the alcove... it was a lovely touch though I thought!
This is as close as I could get to the switch gear room... or "switch gear woods" as you could now call it!
And a little early for windfell fruit, but what the hell!