Ribbleton Lane Mill And The Preston City Cotton Trade

Ribbleton Lane where The Watermark is based, is steeped full of history along with the city of Preston. Preston was only recently granted city status in 2002, becoming England’s 50th city in the 50th year of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. Preston is situated on the north bank of the River Ribble, the City of Preston district has a population of 141,800 (mid-2016 est) and lies at the centre of the Central Lancashire sub-region, with a population of 335,000.

Series of images of Ribbleton Mill and The Watermark building.

Preston Cotton Trade & the Water Frame

The 19th century saw a transformation in Preston from a small market town to a much larger industrial one, innovations such as Richard Arkwright’s water frame (invented in Preston) brought cotton mills to many northern English towns. Arkwright’s achievement combined power, machinery, semi-skilled labour and the new raw material of cotton to create mass-produced yarn. Prior to this, there had been a significant spinning and weaving industry based on traditional home based methods. Cotton manufacturing became the largest employer in Preston in the 19th Century. Arkwright also played a significant part in the development of the factory system as he combined water power, the water frame, and continuous production with modern employment practices.

Horrockses, Crewdson & Co Limited

John Horrocks is probably the most important person in the history of Preston’s cotton industry. Horrockses was a textile company based in Preston, Lancashire. In 1791 the company was established by John Horrocks, then a small spinner of Bolton. He built a mill in that same year and went on to become one of the pioneers of the Lancashire “factory system” by which the cotton industry was revolutionised. Within ten years he owned seven large mills. The company Horrockses, Crewdson & Co Limited followed a merger with Hollins Brothers in 1885 there was another merger in 1887 with Crewdson. The mergers increased the size of the company and extended production into Manchester and Bolton.