Industrial Development

at Clayton-le-Moors 

Like Eccleshill, Clayton-le-Moors was very heavily involved in the early industrial development of Lancashire County, with primary emphasis on textiles.


Overview of Industrial Development

Leeds and Liverpool Canal 

Evidence of Early Industrial Development on 1790 Map 

Grimshaws in the Textile Industry 


Overview of Industrial Development

The industrial history of Clayton-le-Moors is well described by Rothwelland includes the following summary of the textile industry:

As in the neighbouring towns of Accrington, Church, Rishton and Great Harwood, cotton manufacture was the pre eminent industrial trade of Clayton-le-Moors, providing employment for a large percentage of the townships population. The primary site was Oakenshaw Calico Printworks, initially commenced by Peel, Yates & Company, but later associated with Richard Fort and Brothers. This company, through one of its partners, John Mercer, made a significant contribution to the nineteenth century textile industry and bequeathed to the trade the important process of mercerisation.

Canal Mill, Enfield, an impressive spinning and weaving factory built in 1835, was a noteworthy event in the introduction of the cotton industry to Clayton-le-Moors, but the real growth of the town came between 1851 and 1865 when Joseph Barnes actively encouraged the foundation of mills and factories on the Oakenshaw estate.

The final stages of the industrys development came in the years just before 1914 when two large weaving sheds were erected in the town. Claytons cotton trade suffered alarmingly after 1920 and by 1935 only three mills remained in production. Spinning ceased entirely during 1933 and cotton weaving became extinct in 1960.

According to this reference, no fewer than 16 textile-related sites have been identified in the Clayton-le-Moors area.

Leeds & Liverpool Canal

A major artifact of the Industrial Revolution in Clayton-le-Moors is the Leeds & Liverpool Canal (Figure 1) which was opened from Burnley to Enfield (in Clayton-le-Moors) in 1801. It was apparently the major artery for the transport of cotton to the Blackburn area for spinning, weaving and other textile manufacturing activities. Much of the cotton may have entered the port of
Liverpool from the American South. Rothwell(p. 17) provides the following description of the canal:

The Burnley to Enfield stretch of the canal was engineered in 1799 and opened in 1801. By 1808 the waterway had been extended to Church but final completion did not occur until 1816.

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal Company had its local depot at Enfield Bridge where warehouses and offices were constructed in 1801-02. Lime Kilns (owned by the Waltons of Altham) were sited west of Whalley Road close to Victoria Mill, while there were various coal wharfs to the east of the bridge. Among the early occupants were the Altham Colliery Co., James Lomax and the Peels (prior to the opening of Church Wharf). Later tenants of the wharfs included various local coal merchants and the Accrington Gas Co.

The later mills and factories also had canal side facilities, including warehouses which gave direct access to the waterway.

Figure 1. Westward View of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal from Highway A678 Bridge. Photo taken May 2000.

The canal apparently had a major economic impact to the Blackburn area when it was constructed, as indicated by Aspin2 (p. 6) in his description of the completion of the canal to Blackburn in 1810:

Towns many miles inland now began to take on the airs of seaports, and Blackburn, watching the advance of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal across East Lancashire, provided itself with a commodious stone warehouse a basin so wide that six barges of 40 tons burden each may lie abreast, and three cranes to hoist the goods into the upper rooms.

When the canal was opened in June 1810, giving the town a direct link with Hull, the ceremony was so impressive that the Blackburn Mail declared, Never since this publication was first started has it been in the power of any editor to record so pleasant a scene. Some twenty-seven vessels made the inaugural journey from Clayton-le-Moors and there were four bands on board to entertain the passengers.

More detail on the canal is given on a separate webpage.

Evidence of Early Industrial Development on 1790 Map

Trappes-Lomax published a map inside the front cover of his book which showed Clayton-le-Moors as it existed in about 1790. This would have been at the time of the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, which was to have such a large impact on the area.

The incipient influence of the Industrial Revolution is indicated on the map by the Canal (i.e., the Leeds and Liverpool Canal), by the Cannal Pit (coal mine) in parcel 38, and by the “Engine Fields” near the Cannal Pit at the north end of the manor. The date of this map is thus probably more accurately placed sometime after 1801, the year that the Leeds and Liverpool Canal was completed through Clayton-le-Moors.

Grimshaws in the Textile Industry

At least one family of Grimshaws was heavily involved in the textile business that grew out of the Industrial Revolution, as described in the following excerpt from Crossley4 (p. 113-116):

JAMES GRIMSHAW. (Died lst September, 1873; Aged 72 Years).

Commercially and in public service, James Grimshaw, of Owl Hall the calico printer of Plantation Mill, contributed materially in the moulding of Accrington. Sound in judgment, ever wishful to help in, every good cause, he filled many offices with profit to the community. He was trusted by all sections, revered by hosts of townsmen. He was a man of slender build and-medium height, with an iron-grey beard and resolute face, yet a kinder and more sympathetic employer and citizen it would be difficult to find. A native of Oswaldtwistle, he came of a long-lived stock. His father, Joseph Grimshaw, died in 1846 at the age of 81 and his mother attained her 84th year.

As a boy James Grimshaw worked at Foxhill Bank Printworks, but came to Accrington with his father when quite a youth. He was employed at Plantation Mill Printworks as a block printer for some years. His steady character and aptitude for business attracted the attention of his employer, Mr. Denham, and he was promoted to the position of foreman. Subsequently Mr. Denham took him into partnership, and on that gentleman’s death, about 1840, Mr. Grimshaw took the management of the business along with his sons, Joseph and John, and the firm became known as James Grimshaw and Sons. In later years Joseph and John commenced business on their own account, and some years before Mr. Grimshaw’s death the works were carried on by Mr. William Denham Grimshaw, another son..

JOHN SMALLEY GRIMSHAW. (Died 27th September, 1896, aged 68 years).

Mr. James Grimshaw had three sons; Joseph, the eldest, became a colliery proprietor at Stoneclough, near Bolton; John Smalley lived at Huncoat for many years and was engaged in several businesses; and William Denham carried on the Plantation Works. Like his father, John Smalley Grimshaw, of Woodside House, Huncoat, filled many public offices. For a time he was at Broad Oak Mill, then became partner with Mr. John Riley at Hapton Chemical Works. He and others built Highbrake Mill, Huncoat. Mr. Grimshaw became associated with a number of industrial concerns in Burnley. He was first chairman of Burnley Paper Works and of Sandygate Mill, and served on other directorates. Huncoat had great attractions for him; he filled all the public offices in turn; was first chairman of the Parish Council and was also a Poor-Law Guardian. He was created a county magistrate in 1878 and was appointed chairman of the local Bench on the death of Mr. George Walmsley. He was a Liberal in politics (though not in harmony with the party on Home Rule) and was identified with the New Church. A reserved man, he was not fond of public platforms, but he was good to the poor.

WILLIAM DENHAM GRIMSHAW. (Died 12th May, 1923; aged 92 years).

Born in Accrington, William Denham Grimshaw spent several years as a young man in the South of France, acquiring the best available knowledge of the calico printing industry, and there he made the acquaintance of many with similar interests who afterwards became heads of printworks in various parts of Europe. A clever chemist, he spent a great deal of his time in the laboratory, and research work in colours was with him not only a profession, but a hobby. His studies in this direction produced some very important results, employed to useful purpose in the carrying on of his firm’s business.

Gifted with a splendid memory, Mr. Grimshaw had many interesting recollections of old Accrington. In the early part of his business career, when he had to go to Manchester, he travelled by pony to Bury, and there took the stage coach to his destination. returning to Accrington by the same method. He was familiar with the stirring events in the history of the cotton trade, and his experiences of the plug-drawing riots and other disturbances were most interesting.


1Rothwell, Michael, 1979, Industrial Heritage – A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Clayton-le-Moors: Hyndburn Local History Society, Printed by Caxton Printing, Accrington, 18 p.+

2Aspin, Chris, 1995, The First Industrial Society – Lanchashire, 1750-1850: Preston, England, Carnegie Publishing Ltd., 250 p.

3Trappes-Lomax, Richard, 1926, A History of the Township and Manor of Clayton-le-Moors, County Lancaster: Chetham Society, Second Series, v. 85, 175 p.

4Crossley, R.S., 1930, Accrington Captains of Industry: Accrington, Wardleworth Ltd., unk p.

Webpage History

Webpage posted August 2000