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British Industrial History

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McConnel and Kennedy

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McConnell and Kennedy's of Ancoats, Manchester

1791 John Kennedy began business in a small way in Manchester in 1791, as soon as he had completed his apprenticeship, in conjunction with two other workmen, Sandford and MacConnel. Their business was mule-spinning which was very profitable at that time. They used any low-cost garrets they could hire for mule-spinning.

Their business became machine-making and mule-spinning, with John Kennedy in charge of the machine department. After some time, they took part of a small factory in Canal Street, and carried on their business on a larger scale. Later McConnel and Kennedy occupied a little factory in the same street, which was subsequently demolished to provide room for Fairbairn's large machine works. The progress of the firm was steady and even rapid, and they went on building mills and extending their business.

1794 A mill was first constructed on this (Ancoats?) site.

1797-9 The seven-storey Old Mill was built on Henry Street, Manchester for James McConnel and John Kennedy. It floor plan measured 54m by 12m. A 16 HP engine was ordrered from Boulton & Watt in June 1797. McConnel and Kennedy only used half of the mill until 1802, renting the other half out to Peter and Andrew McCandish[1]

1801, with improved profitability after several lean years McConnel and Kennedy commissioned the building of the Long Mill on the opposite side of Henry Street from the Old Mill, completed in 1806. Initially known as the New Factory, it had 8 floors and covered an area of 650 square yards. The south western face of the mill extended over the full 100 yd length of Pickford Street between Union Street and Jersey Street. Gas lighting was installed in 1809 by Boulton and Watt.

By 1811, with a downturn in trade, like many others McConnel and Kennedy went bankrupt.

In 1815 James McConnel and John Kennedy purchased land on Union Street in Ancoats to construct the new Sedgewick Mill, which was commissioned in 1819, designed by James Lowe.

1818 The Union St (now named Redhill St) mill was constructed by McConnel and Kennedy as a spinning mill.

In 1865 the building was altered by the new owner, William Fairbairn, to install larger automated spinning mules. By this time it was the biggest mill in the Manchester region. Further buildings were added in 1868 and 1912 to cope with the demand for increased output.

Presumably it was this mill that provided an opportunity for Fairbairn and Lillie (then the largest spinners in the country) to demonstrate their ideas for improved drive-shaft system for the mill and a new system of gearing.

Later became McConnel and Co.

The large mill at the junction of Redhill (Union Street) has been saved and converted to apartments and commercial premises. The outcome of a very thorough survey of the history and design of this and neighbouring mills is available in a book published in 2007 [2]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 'A & G Murray and the Cotton Mills of Ancoats': I Miller & C Wild and S Little, R McNeil, K Moth: Lancaster Imprints, pp50-1
  2. 'A & G Murray and the Cotton Mills of Ancoats': I Miller & C Wild and S Little, R McNeil, K Moth: Lancaster Imprints: ISBN 978-0-904220-46-9