Bob's Mellor Mill Diary
Bob (Robert Humphrey-Taylor) is leading the excavations at Mellor Mill.
Copyright R H-T ©
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During the last two weekends we have managed to excavate, a hitherto unknown, stone staircase leadng into the semi basement of the mill at the rear northern end of the central six storey build. The stair look splendid and we hope that they will eventually form a way into the semi basement and main drive shaft ares of the mill for visitors. It is looking likely that this staircase was constructed sometime after 1867 and before 1883. A number of cogwheels and spinning spindles were unearthed which it is believed came from ring spinning machines. Additionally a large number of well rotted shoes covered each tread of the stairs and the floor at the bottom - this looks like a case of fly tipping taking place after the 1892 fire and before the mill is finally demolished some years later.
We were very pleased to welcome back Aquinas College 'A' level Archaeology students to the dig last Friday. They worked really hard, clearing and excavating an area around the southern staircase. We look forward to welcoming six students from Aquinas for their work experience week, 4th - 11th July, when they hope to complete the work on the southern staircase.
Much excitement down at Mellor Mill last weekend as we took delivery of somewhere to make a brew and shelter from the rain. Many thanks to friends who helped us move our shed from Roman Lakes to the mill. It was a thrilling journey on the flat bed trailer behind the tractor.
Four of us went to visit Queen Street Mill in Burnley yesterday.This is a weaving mill, built in 1894, powered by a William Roberts of Nelson tandem compound steam engine. Two eight foot diameter by thirty foot long lancashire boilers, similar to the two that were at at Mellor Mill, provide the steam. Volunteers, working on the Boiler House and Engine House at Mellor Mill were thrilled to able to see a 'Mill in steam'. These visits play an important role in giving volunteers a greater understanding of how Mellor Mill may have operated. It was a great visit much enhanced by the enthusiasm of the staff.
You never quite know what is going to pose the next question when excavating down at Mellor Mill. Whilst moving some spoil last weekend I happened on what appears to be a piece of slate flooring tile. It really didn't seem to be any different from much of the other umpteen tons of overburden we have been shifting to get down to the hard archaeology. However, when I turned this piece over there was a mark carved in the underside. It looks like a cross inside a pair of brackets (X). The immediate thought was that it is a mason's mark, such as can be found on a number of the ashlar blocks forming the headrace of the Wellington wheel pit. Later in the evening, at home, I picked up my copy of "The Rise and Fall of King Cotton" (the latest in a long line of tomes, connected with the textile industry, to adorn my bookshelves) and there, leaping out at me from the front of the dust cover, was an almost identical symbol representing the Union Movement. (right) Can they be the same? Why is it carved on the underside of the slate tile? Did the carver want this to be an anonymous message?