Trial Digs 2010 - 2011

Report Summary of 2010 dig

In early November 2010 a group of volunteers spent five days attempting to find some trace of the main structure of the mill at its northern end. Initial clearance of a section soon found an area of laid setts and after extending it further west it was found to partly overlay brick walling. The team concentrated on this and found a square brick structure with walls four bricks wide and a central area a little under two meters square.

Following this down it was found to be ½ meter deep (six layers of brick) with a brick floor. A small drain was located in the northeast corner. The lower fifteen centimetres of the fill overlying this floor was primarily composed of coal dust. Above this was a quantity of brick rubble and it was noted that many of these bricks were curved, possibly indicating the remains of a barrel roof.  From the eastern face a further wall appeared to extend for a short distance and this was found to be a double wall with a void between them.

Examination of the 1898 O.S. map of the area shows “W.M.” in the area where we were working. Does this mean we had uncovered the remains of a “weighing machine”? Quite possible. In which case the main mill building is still to be pinpointed.

The mill was originally water powered and it seems that water remained the main source of power throughout its life, but a pair of auxiliary compound steam engines built by Goodfellow of Hyde with an associated boiler was added in about 1855. Steam power was intended for use in the event of the river running low, and the engines and boiler were housed in a purpose built building at the north end of the main mill. The position of this building has been identified and there are several substantial vertical steel rods and stone grooved blocks remaining in place that would have secured the engines. There are also the remains of stone walling at the rear now overgrown by a large sycamore tree, and behind that the almost buried entrance to the flue that carried the smoke from the furnace to the chimney, which was situated some distance up the hillside.

On our last day, a small area south of our excavation was cleared and a cobblestone surface revealed. It is likely that this is part of the yard in the front of the main mill building.

Thanks are due to owner Bernard Sewall for permission to excavate and to the volunteers who endured some uncomfortable conditions during the week. One full day was lost due to heavy rain.

Click here to read a full pdf copy of the following year's dig, the 2011 Structural Survey of Wellington Wheel Pit by Salford University