Home Overview People Places Industry Clothing & Products Interactives * Contact Us Help
You are in: Places > NW Cotton towns > Wigan Print Page     Email Page  
* * *
Image Number: 3003785
The lack of fast-flowing streams in the borough delayed the adoption of the new water-powered cotton spinning mills in Wigan and it was not until the 1800s that cotton factories began to spread into the area. By 1818 there were eight mills concentrated in the Wallgate area of Wigan.

Wigan's dominance as a cotton town did not begin until the late 19th century and lasted until the mid-20th century, largely due to a willingness to adopt new technology, such as ring spinning, and new structures such as joint-stock company. Consequently, it has some very fine late mill complexes and from 1889 until the First World War the largest ring spinners in Britain, Farington, Eckersley & Co Ltd of Western Mills and from 1901 also at Swan Meadow Mill.

The other centre of cotton spinning was the late cotton town of Leigh which by 1901 had a population of 40,001 and continued to expand its weaving capacity until 1927 and cotton spinning until 1936. Along the canal through the town are a number of late 19th and early 20th century factories which form one of the few surviving extensive mill landscapes in Greater Manchester. These mills averaged around 100,000 spindles each and their design and stylistic flourishes typified the peak of the regional mill-building tradition. In 1929 the area could boast the second largest cotton-spinning firm in the world, at 3.2 million spindles, with the creation of the Combined Egyptian Mills with 34 mills concentrated around its Atherton headquarter

(source: R. Mc Neil and M. Nevell (2000) AIA Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Manchester)


View the Wigan collection to find out more >
Associated Images
Related Narratives Round and About Wigan

Image: Exterior view of Quarry Bank Mill Image: Map showing NW Cotton towns
Image: Railway viaduct Image: Derelict mill, Manchester
Image: Exterior view of Mill at Helmshore Image: Canalscape showing gasometer
New Opportunities Fund - Lottery Funded - logo
© Manchester City Council | Terms & conditions