Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 150,668 pages of information and 235,204 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Albion Mill, Gaythorn

From Graces Guide

of Albion Street, Gaythorn, Manchester.

  • 1845 BREACH OF THE FACTORIES’ ACT.- At the Borough Court, on Tuesday week, an information was heard against Messrs. James Stuttard and Co., Albion Mills, Gaythorn, under the Factories' Regulation Act. The charge was made by Mr. Grahame, sub-inspector for this district. It appeared that there was an unfenced shaft in the factory yard, and that a young person named Bridget Massey had lately lost her life by it. - Mr. Greaves, surgeon, proved that the shaft was unfenced, and that near it was a tub, to which the hands were in the regular habit of going to obtain water.-A penalty of £10 was inflicted.[1]
    On Thursday morning last an accident, by which, fortunately no personal injury was caused, occurred at the Albion mills, Gaythorn, which are now worked under the inspectorship of Mr. Marsden, Mr. Glasgow, and Mr. Peet, inspectors for the estate of the late Mr. Thomas Gough. About ten minutes before eight o'clock that morning, the main upright shaft, in the second ground floor of the mill, broke in two at the neck, close to the collar, and the steam-engine being thus cleared from the whole weight of the machinery which it has to keep in motion, the large fly-wheel, which is about seven yards in diameter, began to revolve with immense velocity. The rim of this wheel consists of eight cast-iron segments of a circle, each about eight or nine feet in length, twelve inches broad, and six inches in thickness, and weighing about half a ton. These were firmly bolted together, and stayed with very strong thick cast-iron spokes. Such, however, was the velocity with which this great bulk and weight of iron was made to revolve, that, by centrifugal force, the segments were torn asunder, and thrown outwards with terrific force. They tore away portions of the brickwork surrounding the wheel; and one of them was hurled upwards, and, striking the main steam-pipe in its course, broke it in two, and thus fortunately cut off the source of motion. It then passed through the stair window, a height of 16 or 18 feet from the floor, and fell outside in Trumpet-treet. Fortunately, no one was passing at the time, or this heavy projectile, striking them, must have caused instant death. Another of the segments struck a corner of the wall which divides the engine-house from the boiler-house, with such force that, although it is a fourteen-inch wall, of great solidity, it was rent in several directions, and fissures are visible on the opposite side. The other segments struck various parts of the engine house and made its interior a complete wreck. Two cast-iron pillars, of considerable thickness, which support the engine, were both horizontally broken in two, at different heights ; and the spring beam was also broken. Some of the stone stairs, leading to the upper part of the boiler-house, were torn from their setting, and broken in pieces. No one was in the engine-house the time; the engineer having gone to the boiler-house. Had he been in the engine-house, it is possible that he might have shut off the steam, and so have prevented the destructive consequences; but, he failed to do this, and remained in the engine-house, he must inevitably have been killed.—
    With the exception of the parts mentioned, it is not believed that the engine was very materially injured; but when we visited the place, the cylinder was still too hot to allow of internal examination. The main beam of the engine is not broken ; and the boiler is perfectly sound. It was fortunate that there was a strong cross-beam between the middle and upper floors the engine-house, which supported the supporting beam of the engine, otherwise, when the two upright pillars were broken, the whole of that part of the building must have fallen. It is stated that the whole of the mischief, from the breaking of the shaft to the stopping of the engine, was done in two minutes or less. Of course, as soon as the steam-pipe was broken, the engine diminished its speed of working, and soon stopped altogether.
    This untoward accident immediately brought the whole of the operations of the mill to a close ; and, till the damage is repaired, which cannot done in less than a fortnight, probably three weeks, upwards of 360 hands are thrown out of employment.
    We have not been able to ascertain what was the immediate cause of the breaking of the shaft. It is nine inches in diameter, of cast-iron, and we understand that the shaft and boxing were put new into the mill about four years ago. Mr. Wm. Bowman has examined the iron at the fracture, and he states, that it has every appearance of good, sound iron. The engine, which is of 75 horses' power, and which was made by Messrs. Rothwell and Hick, of Bolton, in 1817, was working as usual from 6 o'clock in the morning, and there was nothing unusual observed before the breaking of the ahaft. The fracture shows a bright and granular appearance ; so that there is reason to suppose that it was in part an old fracture ; nor is there appearance, so far as we could see, of any flaw in the metal. It has been suggested, that if there had been an extra governor, it would have instantly shut off the steam on the weight of the machinery being removed, and that the great mischief would then have been prevented. It is at present impossible to ascertain exactly the amount of damage done to the action parts of the engine. The most remarkable thing, under the circumstances, and what strikes every one who has seen the place, is, that so much destruction of property should have been the work of a few seconds, and that not the slightest injury to limb or life should have been caused such a terrific outbreak of mechanical force. On inquiry last evening, we learned that the interior of the cylinder had not been examined; but there was no reason to anticipate that any damage had been sustained the engine beyond that noticed above. We also learn that the engineer, at the moment when the shaft broke, was in the fire-place, and, seeing the engine working at so furious a rate, he dared mot venture into the engine-house, but ran into the boilerbouse, and blew off the steam; from which circumstance, combined with the segment of the fly-wheel going through the window, it was at first supposed in the neighbourhood that it was boiler explosion.— Manchester Guardian.'[2]


The 1849 O.S. map [3] shows 'Albion Mill' on the north bank of the Rochdale Canal, immediately east of Albion Street, with the northern face flanking Trumpet Street. The main building was 105 ft long and 60 ft wide. Adjoining were the boiler house and engine house. The building is shown on Bancks and Co's Plan of Manchester, 1831 as 'Gough's Cotton Mill'.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Manchester Times, 22nd November 1845
  2. London Daily News - Thursday 2 April 1846
  3. 'The Godfrey Edition' 'Old Ordnance Survey Town Plans: Manchester Sheet 33: 'Manchester (Oxford Street & Gaythorn)' [1]