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 162,841 pages of information and 245,375 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.

Occleshaw's Lead Mill

From Graces Guide
2024. The four-storey building on Ducie Street (Formerly Whittles Croft) was probably the Junction Lead Mill

in Piccadilly, Manchester

William Occleshaw was associated with two lead mills in central Manchester. The 1849 O.S. map shows two lead mills, one known as Piccadilly Rolled Lead and Pipe Mills, the other, about 300 yds to the east, called Junction Lead Mills.

This entry also covers other activities of William Occleshaw, and other businesses using Occleshaw's premises.

1825 William Occleshaw listed as a plumber and glazier, rolled lead, patent pipe and fire engine mfr. glass bender and crown glass warehouse, 60 Piccadilly.[1].

1835 'A Novel Thief Trap —About seven o'clock on Tuesday evening, man who was employed at the leadworks of Mr. Occleshaw, Piccadilly, heard a plunge in the canal which runs along one side of yard, as though some person had fallen into the water. Ropes were immediately procured, and in a few minutes a man, named James Rider, who had formerly worked at Mr. Occleshaw's, was brought to land almost in a state of exhaustion. At first he refused to give any account of himself, but at length he said he had fallen from the higher lock-gates, which could not be true, he would in that case inevitably have been killed ; and afterwards he said he had fallen from a boat on the canal. While this was going on, a pig of lead weighing about 1½ cwt., was found on the lock-gates leading from the yard to the towing-path, having been removed from a heap in the yard; and the natural conclusion was that he had stolen the lead, and in attempting to convey it from the premises it had thrown him off his balance as he was pushing it over the gates. The prisoner was accordingly secured, and after examination before Mr. Foster, at the New Bailey, on Wednesday, he was committed for trial.' [2]

1840 'HORRIBLE ACCIDENT.-One of the most shocking accidents we ever recollect to have recorded happened on Tuesday at Mr. Occleshaw's lead mills, in Lees-street. Mr. Occleshaw lets off a portion of his mill, with moving power, to Mr. Ebenezer Heap, fustian shearer, and it was in this part of the building the accident to which we allude occurred. A man named John Rowland was employed there as a raiser of beaverteens, and on Tuesday was engaged at some machinery connected with the steam-engine, and had placed his right foot on the centre, upon which a wheel turns to put a strap on the wheel, when another strap unfortunately caught his foot and drew it fast into the machinery, and he was in this manner whirled round with frightful velocity, his head coming in contact with the ceiling at each revolution. The only way of stopping the machinery without going into the engine-house was by raising it with a lever so as to throw it out of gear by separating the coupling wheels: with this contrivance, however, Rowland's fellow-workmen were unacquainted, and one of them named Brophy ran to tell the engineer to stop the steam engine. The engineer, however, was unfortunately in another part of the premises oiling some machinery, and had locked the door. In this dilemma Brophy broke open the engine-house door and attempted to stop the engine; but being unacquainted with it, instead of closing the throttle valve he forced it further open, and thus accelerated the motion of the machinery, and was very near bringing destruction upon himself, the violence with which the engine moved breaking the fly wheel, large pieces of which being forced up brought down the ceiling, broke the junction pipe connecting the boiler with the engine, and doing very serious mischief. During all this time no means were taken to extricate poor Rowland, and the motion of the wheel to which he was attached, and which ordinarily makes ninety revolutions in a minute, being accelerated to probably double that speed, no hopes of saving his life could be longer entertained. Before the engineer had been made aware of what had happened; and could go to stop the engine, the unfortunate man's right leg, by which he was bound to the wheel, gave way, and thus liberated he was flung with fearful violence to the further end of the room, where his body was picked up a frightfully-mutilated corpse. An inquest was held before Mr. Chapman, the borough coroner, on Wednesday, at the Woodman public-house, Dale-street, when the jury, finding there was no blame attributable to any one, returned a verdict of Accidental death. The unfortunate man was unmarried, and in the twenty-first year of his age.'[3]

1847 Advertisement: 'JUNCTION LEAD MILLS, LATE PICCADILLY ROLLED LEAD AND PIPE MILLS, MANCHESTER.- To be sold or let, the above eligible premises, which have been erected by the proprietor, in a most complete and substantial manner, and which embrace all the accommodation requisite for carrying on the lead, glass, and brass trades, in all their branches. The mills are within a few yards of the canal, and in the immediate neighbourhood of the railway termini, are turned by an engine of the most approved construction, of forty horse power, upon the premises, and in all other respects are calculated to carry out a business of first rate importance. The owner, owing to advanced age, is retiring from business, and can give the most substantial evidence of the profitableness of the trade, having carried it on with success for the last forty years. To an eligible purchaser time would be given with half the amount, and to a person desirous of taking the premises, fair rent only will be required—Apply to WILLIAM OCCLESHAW, Esquire, upon the premises. Junction Lead Mills, Manchester, 25th March, 1847.' [4]

1849 'On Tuesday morning, a few minutes after two o'clock, a policeman discovered flames issuing from a building known as the Piccadilly Corn Mill, Lees-street, Piccadilly, but which is occupied by several persons. The policeman called up the person who had charge of the mill (who resided next door), and then ran to the police-yard. Mr. Rose almost immediately started with the Thames engine, and had reached the spot within ten minutes of the alarm being given. A plentiful supply of water was obtained from the mains for feeding the engine ; and a plug which was put down some years since having been opened, it was found that the force of the water was so great as to allow two jets to be worked from it. These different operations were completed rapidly, that within about a quarter of an hour from the time when the alarm was received the police-yard, three streams of water were being thrown into the burning building. The fire at first had a very threatening aspect, but the great body of water which was thrown in, checked almost immediately, and within two hours it was entirely extinguished. The cellar under the building, and one-half of the first floor, was occupied by Mr. Robert Joynson, as a corn-mill; the other portion of this floor being occupied by Messrs. Gee and Johnson wire-drawers. The second storey was in the occupation of Mr. Robert Shaw, brass-founder and the third storey was occupied by Mr. William Sherman, fancy-box-maker. The damage to Mr. Joynson's stock was only to the extent of £20, and he is insured in the North British office for £300; Messrs. Gee and Johnson are uninsured, and have suffered to the extent of about £10; Mr. Shaw is also uninsured, and will be a loser of from £90 to £100; and Mr. Sherman, who has suffered to the extent of £150, is insured for £300. The building belongs to the executors of the late Mr. William Occleshaw; it is insured in the Royal Exchange office for £430, but the damage to it will only amount to about £120. It is presumed that the fire was caused by the over heating of a softening-furnace, belonging to Messrs. Gee and Johnson, on the ground floor, and which thus set fire to the beams and flooring over it.'[5]

1849 William Occleshaw died at his residence, Plymouth Grove, Chorlton-on-Medlock, on 18th February, aged 75[6]

1849'PICCADILLY ROLLED LEAD AND PIPE MILLS.- TO BE LET, tte above eligible PREMISES, comprising the rolling, drawing, putty, and white lead mills, with the necessary fixtures and machinery for carrying on the brass finishing business in all its branches; tho mills are turned by at steam-engine of 40 horses power; the business has been established by the the proprietor, William Occleshaw, Esq. upwards of 40 years, and offers an opportunity of rare occurrence to the industrious and moderate capitalist. Also various large rooms, with power suitable for manufacturing purposes; also to be let, a large mill, with steam-engine of 40 horses' power, in Junction street, Whittles Croft, comprising four rooms, suitable for a machinist, silk manufacturer, doubler, or cotton spinner; the premises are adjacent to the Ashton canal, convenient for coal and water, and to an eligible tenant a moderate rent will be taken, Also two plots of Building Laud, with unusual canal privilege. Apply to Messes, Slater amid Heelis, solicitors, Princess-street;- Mr. R. W. Coates, Plymouth Grove; or Mr. Thomas Jackson, Piccadilly Lead Mills, Manchester.' [7]

1849 Sale Notice: 'By Messrs. LEIGH and JOHNSON, at the Law Society's Rooms, Norfolk-street, Manchester, .......
The following Valuable FREEHOLD and LEASEHOLD PROPERTIES, situate respectively in Piccadilly, Lees-street, Whittle's Croft, Junction-street, Mather-street, and Aqueduct-street, in Manchester, the property of the Trustees under the will of the late Mr. William Occleshaw, namely:
Lot 1, in Piccadilly and Lees-street. The Fee-Simple and Inheritance of and in all that PLOT of LAND fronting to Piccadilly aforesaid, and containing 901 square yards or thereabouts; and also the remainder of an unexpired term of 1000 years, commencing in the year 1829 of and in the adjoining plot of land, containing 607 4/9 square yards, (subject as to part thereof to an under-lease for a term of 990 years, granted by the late Mr. Occleshaw to Mr. William Lomas, under the yearly chief rent of £65 7s. 6d.) together with the buildings erected on the said plots of land, consisting (irrespective of those belonging to Mr. Lomas) of a substantially-built mill or warehouse, fronting to Piccadilly aforesaid, and lately occupied as a lead mill and warehouse, with two ranges of buildings from the back to Lees-street, let off to various tenants, and the steam engine, boiler, and water wheel, and the upright and line shafting therein, and of four well-erected dwelling houses and shops fronting to Piccadilly. The back part of the premises is bounded for the most part by a branch from the Rochdale Canal, and there is the right of using such branch and the overflow water from the main canal has been used for turning the water wheel. The freehold part of the properly is subject to a chief rent ..…
.....also all the right and interest of the said trustees in a shop fronting Piccadilly, and adjoining the said mill, the site whereof held on sufferance under the Rochdale Canal Company, at the small rent of £5 per annum. The large Mill or Warehouse fronting to Piccadilly is fitted with machinery suitable for carrying on an extensive business in the lead trade. This machinery may be taken by the purchaser at a valuation.....'[8]


The 1849 O.S. town plan[9] shows a group of attached buildings, one of which is marked 'Mill'd Lead and Patent Pipe Manufactory, bounded on the west by Piccadilly, to the north by Lees Street, with a branch of the Rochdale Canal on the east, and Lock 85 on the south side. The attached buildings included a terrace of houses (and shops?), and, somewhat incongruously, a corn mill ('Piccadilly Mill'). Surprising, too, was mention in an 1849 sale notice, of a waterwheel, served by water from the Rochdale Canal.

The 1849 map also shows 'Junction Lead Mills' on the south side of the short street named Whittles Croft (now part of Ducie Street). An old four-storey, three-bay building having the same trapeziform ground plan survives at this location, evidently converted to flats. The end of the building displays a restored painted sign, advertising Gileric Gowns made by H. A. Howard and Sons.

For more information on the surviving buildings, see here, p.25, which relates to 'Former Junction Works at Paradise Wharf, No. 40 Ducie Street (Grade II Listed) and Stable Block to south-east of former Junction Works (Grade II Listed)[10]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 'History, Directory, and Gazeteer of the County of Lancaster', Vol 2, by Edward Baines and W. Parson
  2. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 21 March 1835
  3. Manchester Times, 29 August 1840
  4. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 3 April 1847
  5. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 17 November 1849
  6. Manchester Times, 24 February 1849
  7. Manchester Times - Saturday 13 October 1849
  8. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 24 November 1849
  9. 'The Godfrey Edition Old Ordnance Survey Maps: Manchester Sheet 29: Manchester (Piccadilly) 1849' [1]
  10. [2] Graeme Ives Heritage Planning: Heritage Statement: Ferrous - Chapeltown Street, Manchester. Capital & Centric Ltd, October 2021