Rochdale Road


Map ref. SD 933 214

See also WINTERBUTLEE MILL and NEWBRIDGE MILL. The three mills formed part of the Bottoms Mill complex.


Known occupiers




DUGDALE William & MILLS John





1919 until after 1993



Gordon Riggs mill shop and cafe


Illustrated story

The 1850's was a good decade for the cotton trade, and many new mills appeared on the scene at Walsden and Todmorden around that time. Young businessmen were eager to try their luck as spinners and manufacturers if they could find enough capital to make a start. Two such men were William Dugdale and John Mills.

The son of a whitesmith, William trained as a blacksmith and set up on his own account. He and his wife Ann lived at Pexwood in 1841 with their first child, John, where William worked in his own trade. The family later moved down to Wadsworth Mill and opened a shop. Maybe it was while they were at Wadsworth Mill that William met John Mills, a cotton-operative who lived close by at Shade with his wife, Betty.


Bottoms Mill

The two neighbours launched the firm Dugdale & Mills and began in the manufacturing business at SHADE MILL. Then in 1853 they leased land at Bottoms in Walsden where they erected a weaving shed to add to the newly built mill on the site. They moved all their machinery to Bottoms and sub-let the mill at Shade. The gamble paid off and the firm went from strength to strength.

At the very beginning of their venture at Bottoms Mill they raised extra money by renting out space and power to a newcomer to the cotton manufacturing business. He was John Stephenson who was a native of Hebden Bridge. He installed a few looms and began to prosper sufficiently that by 1855 he was able to move his business to Vale Mill at Tipside and later bought Messrs. Dugdale & Mills' original mill at SHADE.

Bottoms Mill is located along one side of the Turnpike Road, now Rochdale Road, opposite to Winterbutlee and Newbridge Mills. The weaving sheds fill the space between the road and the river behind the mill (Strines Brook), with a tall chimney, warehouses and other buildings skirting the road.

The back of the mill

Bottoms Mill


By 1861, the mill employed 94 people. William Dugdale and his family lived at Clough, later moving to Montreal Place in Walsden. John Mills, Betty and one son (John) lived at SQUARE and later at 6, Carr Terrace, in Walsden.

In 1875, John Mills was able to retire with Betty to live at Claremont Road, Moss Side, Manchester, where he lived for the next 29 years. He died there aged 84 in 1904.
William Dugdale continued the business with two of his sons, James and Charles. He was so successful he was able to take over the two adjacent mills at WINTERBUTLEE and NEWBRIDGE. The three mills became known as the Bottoms Mills complex. The firm traded as William Dugdale.

In November 1880, William was prosecuted for contravening parts of the Factories Act. He pleaded guilty to the offences.

One was for employing three children for longer than the permitted hours, for which he was fined £2 with £1.3s.6d. costs. The other offence was for employing three children without certificates of school attendance. For this there was no fine, just costs of £1.4s. As William pleaded guilty and undertook to carry out the Act scrupulously in his factories in the future, five other cases were withdrawn.

William kept a tight rein on his businesses, staying at the helm until his sudden death in 1883, aged 68.

His eldest son was John. He married a weaver from one of their mills when he was just 20 years old. This somehow displeased his father who excluded him from entering the firm. He remained in Walsden making his own way in life. The next son was James. He was manager of one of the Bottoms complex mills by the time he was 19, and on his father's death took over the top job with his brother Charles. Henry, the third son, was trained up in commercial matters at the Makeing Place Commercial College in Soyland. He worked for his father as a bookkeeper but left the area to make his own way. In 1891 he is living off his own means, presumably as a result of his inheritance from his father. Youngest son, Charles, also studied at the Makeing Place Commercial College and remained with his father's firm, working as a bookkeeper and manager before taking over the helm jointly with his brother James in 1883.

James gained a place on the Urban District Council, and in 1896 when the first Municipal Elections for the Borough Council took place, he was elected as one of the representatives of the Walsden Ward with 303 votes. By this time, he was married to Clara Stansfield and living at the splendid Holly Bank House. William's oldest brother, John, was also voted on to the Borough Council with 318 votes.

James Dugdale


Holly Bank

Their brother Charles married Ellen Taberner and they also lived at Holly Bank. The two brothers continued to run Bottoms Mill until 1903 when James died at the age of 61. Charles carried on the firm until his own death in 1913, although he and his family moved out of Walsden to live at Durn Lea near Littleborough. With the death of Charles, the Dugdale interest in Bottoms Mill ended after a very successful 60 years.

From the writings of John Travis, a contemporary historian:

Messrs. James and Charles Dugdale, proprietors, trading as Mr. William Dugdale, cotton spinners and manufacturers, Bottoms Mills and WOODBOTTOM MILL, Walsden.

Some considerable share in the development of the cotton spinning and manufacturing industry of the district under notice falls to the credit of Mr. W. Dugdale. His business has had quite half a century's association therewith; and the production of the houses, chiefly calicoes, cloths, shirtings and twills, have long occupied a notable place in the prolific cotton output of this quarter. The Winterbutlee Mill was built in 1861, and is opposite Bottoms Mill, where the offices and warehouses are situated. Woodbottom Mill is at Gauxholme, about a mile away; and the whole work is under efficient management, 600 looms and 12,000 spindles being called into operation, whilst the number of hands employed numbers 300. The long existence of the industry renders it unecessary to say that the mechanical equipment of the works embodies the improvement, which during the last forty years at least, have been placed at the disposal of all cotton spinning and manufacturing firms. Alike as regards the goods specially mentioned, and all others of Mr. Dugdale's output, a good standard has been maintained, and they command a brisk demand in the Lancashire cotton markets.

In 1919 the mill was sold to the Cockcroft manufacturing family. It continued to operate as an integrated spinning and weaving mill until the Second World War, during which period it was used to store cocoa for the troops. Later, the spinning side of the business ceased, but weaving continued there until recent times. It was amongst the last of the Todmorden and Walsden mills to cease trading as a cotton and textile mill.


Today, the mill lives on in the hands of Peter Rigg trading under the name of his father, Gordon Rigg. Part is converted to a café and mill shop as an extension to Gordon Rigg's Garden Centre across the road.

The old weaving sheds are now home to Peter Rigg's private collection of vintage vehicles and a few old weaving looms.



Our grateful thanks go to Peter Rigg for allowing us

to photograph inside his mill


Additional information

researched, recorded and referenced by Mrs Sheila Wade

Hebden Bridge WEA

 Local History Group


Todmorden Rates Books 1860-75

Owner and occupier Dugdale & Mills, mill, shed, 22hp., rateable value £165.17s.4d. (1868 rateable value £202.14s.6d.)

White's Directory 1866

Dugdale & Mills Bottoms Mill cotton spinners & manufacturers

Slater's Directory 1875

Dugdale & Mills Bottoms Mill Walsden, cotton spinners & manufacturers

Todmorden Rates Books 1876-90

Owner and occupier William Dugdale, mill, shed, 22hp., rateable value £202.14s.6d

(1880 r.v. £235.10s.0d.    1888 r.v. £143.5s.0d.)

Todmorden and Hebden Bridge Advertiser 1st Aug. 1879

Bottoms Mill, Walsden, closed July 26th. 254 looms, 11,000 spindles (part at Winterbutlee Mill)

Halifax Courier 23rd Aug 1879

Bottoms Mill again running full time.

Halifax Courier 3rd March 1883

Bottoms Mill, owner William Dugdale, engine breakdown, beam and cylinder broken.

Manchester Examiner 22nd July 1887

Bottoms and Winterbutlee Mills; 50,000 spindles, 300 looms, working full time.

Slater's Directory 1887

William Dugdale Bottoms Mill Walsden, cotton spinners & manufacturers

Mills Directory 1891

William Dugdale, Bottoms Mills, 8,000 spindles, twist and weft, 350 looms, tea cloths.

Worrall's Directory 1893, 1897, 1901

William Dugdale, 8000 mule spindles, looms

Worrall's Directory 1905

William Dugdale, 5000 mule spindles and 11,000 ring spindles

Worrall's Directory 1909

William Dugdale, 3000 mule spindles and 13,000 ring spindles

Worrall's Directory 1913

William Dugdale, 13,000 ring spindles