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Folly Mill, Wincle

Folly Mill, Wincle

The Clough Brook runs in a north – south direction for about five miles until it joins the River Dane on its north bank about a mile above Danebridge. In the last third of a mile the river flows through a steep sided and wooded gorge. About half way along the wooded gorgr at a place called Gideon (or Gibbon’s) Cliff, is the site of Folly Mill which was formerly used to manufacture paper.

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When Folly Mill was built is not known. It does not appear on an estate map of the area in 1774. A local historian James Thornley stated in 1923 that he believed the mill to have been built by Abraham Day of Allmeadow Farm, possibly about 1780 or 1790. James Thornley claimed that it was called Folly Mill because two previous attempts at building a mill had ended with the mill being washed away by floods, hence it was thought folly to attempt to build a third.

If the mill was built at the end of the 18th century it would have been used to make paper by hand with waterpower used to drive a Hollander. Rags were the only raw material capable of being used to make paper prior to the middle of the 19th century.. In the 18th and 19th centuries the manufacture of paper was subject to a complicated taxing structure which involved the close attention of the Excise collectors. So much so that exisemen lived permanently at the site of Folly Mill. Bosley Parish register shows an entry in 1820 for the baptism of two sons of Jenkin Jones, an exciseman of Wincle. The excise records for 1816 show that Thomas Hope was the master paper maker at both Folly Mill and Whitelee Mill in Wincle, although it is not known whether he was owner of this property or a tenant of Abraham Day. In 1835 Abraham Day died in his 95th year, but Thomas Hope and subsequent members of the Hope family continued to operate Folly Mill until 1860 when records show that ownership had changed to John and Matthias Slack. However, by this time paper making had become a fully mechanised continuous process using machines invented by the Fourdrinier brothers in Staffordshire and the hand made process used at Folly Mill became uncompetitive. Folly Mill continued to operate until 1867, but in 1868 it was listed as “not in work” and in 1869 as “unoccupied”. In 1923 James Thornley claimed he had visited the mill in his youth when it had still been working and had been producing coarse brown paper and blue glazed paper as used by grocers and ironmongers for wrapping.




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