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New Mills is a town in Derbyshiremarker, Englandmarker approximately 8 miles (13 km) south-east of Stockportmarker. It is sited at the confluence of the rivers Goytmarker and Settmarker, on the border of Cheshiremarker. The town is situated at the north western edge of the Peak Districtmarker, England's first national park. It has a population of approximately 10,000. Districts of New Mills include Newtown and Low Leighton. The villages and hamlets of Thornsett, Hague Bar, Rowarthmarker, Brookbottommarker, Gowhole, and most of Birch Valemarker, all fall within the town boundaries.


New Mills is in the area formerly known as Bowden Middlecale which was a grouping of ten hamlets. The name of New Mylne (New Mills) was given to it from a corn-mill, erected in 1391, near to the present Salem Mill on the River Settmarker in the hamlet of Ollersettmarker. This was adjacent to a convenient bridge over the Sett. By the late sixteenth century the name was applied to the group of houses that grew up round it. Coal mining was the first industry of the district, with up to 40 small pits and mines exploiting the Yard Seam. The climate, good construction stone and the availability of stable land by fast-flowing water was ideal for cotton spinning. Cotton mills and print-works were built in the Torrs Gorge from 1788. Dwellings were built on the sides of the gorge, sometimes with one home built on top of another, both being entered at their respective street levels. Examples still exist on Station Road and Meal Street.

By 1810, New Mills had nine cotton mills, plus three weaving mills and at least three printworks.

Pigot's Directory 1835 describes New Mills:
NEW MILLS, an extensive hamlet, in the parish of Glossop, and in the High Peak hundred, is 14 miles from Manchester, 6 from Chapel-en-le-Frith, and 8 from Stockport. It is pleasantly situate on the borders of Derbyshire and Cheshire; and, within a comparatively few years, has risen to importance in the manufacturing district; cotton spinning being carried on here to a considerable extent, affording employment to numerous hands.
The factories are in a great measure hid from public view in passing through the village, being built at the foot of the stream, under high towering rocks. Good house coal, as well as other kinds for the purposes of machinery, is obtained near to the village, the top bed strata running from sixteen to twenty inches thick. The village is built chiefly upon a stone quarry, but the soil in many parts is fertile, producing good crops of wheat and potatoes.

A second group of 'later' mills formed by the newly opened Peak Forest Canalmarker in Newtown, a hamlet 800 m away the other side of the Goyt in what was then the parish of Disleymarker in Cheshiremarker. Increasingly these mills and houses merged into New Mills. The soft iron-free water was suitable for bleaching and finishing and printing. With the advent of steam, and the growth of the canal network to transport raw cotton, coal and the finished product, bigger mills were built and the smaller isolated rural mills were no longer competitive. By 1846, most of New Mills' mills had stopped spinning. The small mills moved out of cotton; the larger mills along the canal moved into finishing. Torr Vale Mill had added a weaving shed in 1836, and moved into producing towelling.

The commercial method of calico printing using engraved rollers was invented in New Mills. John Potts of Potts, Oliver and Potts used a copper-engraved master to produce rollers to transfer the inks.

Before the construction of the high-level bridges the Torrs was a major obstacle; traffic had to descend 70m to cross the Goyt and then climb 70m on the other bank. The first bridge to be constructed was the Queens Bridge on Church Road. The Union Road bridge was built in 1884; obtaining the land was difficult, as the arches needed to pass close to Torr Mill and properties on the Cheshire (south) bank. The new road was named after the 'union' of the two halves of the town. The first station in New Mills was at Newtown, on the Stockport, Disley and Whaley Bridge Railway; this opened 9 June 1855. This followed the line of the Peak Forest Canalmarker staying safely away from the Torrs. The Sheffield and Midland Railway Companies' Committee company built two viaducts across the Goyt: one for a line to New Mills Centralmarker that opened in 1864, and one for the fast line through the Disley Tunnelmarker which opened in 1904.

Cotton continued to be worked at Torr Vale Mill until 2000, giving the mill over two hundred years of service.

In recent times the town has become a rural feeder town for the conurbation of Greater Manchestermarker.


Now almost entirely in Derbyshiremarker, New Mills straddled the historic county boundaries of Derbyshire and Cheshiremarker. The traditional boundary was the River Goyt: Low Leighton, Torr Top and Hidebank were always in Derbyshire, but Torr Vale Road and all of Newtown were in Cheshire. Indeed, today, all the housing to the west of the traffic lights on the Buxton Road remains in the parish of Disleymarker in Cheshire.

Ten hamlets made up Bowden Middlecale. The new mill of 1391 was at Beard. In 1713 the hamlets of Beard, Ollersett, Thornsett and Whitle were formed into a township and a new corn mill was built at Ollersett. This was superseded by the New Mills Urban Sanitary Authority in 1876.

Tom Levitt, a Labour Party member, is the member of Parliament for the High Peak constituencymarker.

On Derbyshire County Council, New Mills is in the New Mills division along with Hayfield and Sett. The seat is held by Beth Atkins for the Liberal Democrats. On High Peak Councilmarker, Sett has one councillor, New Mills East has two councillors and New Mills West has two councillors.


New Mills is a town in Derbyshire, England approximately NNW of London and 8 miles (13 km) south-east of Stockport. It is sited at the confluence of the rivers Goytmarker and Settmarker. It borders on Disleymarker, in Cheshiremarker, and Marplemarker, in the Stockport Metropolitan Boroughmarker in Greater Manchestermarker. The town is situated at the north-western edge of the Peak Districtmarker, England's first national park, but only a small part of it is included within the boundaries. The town includes the hamlets of Thornsett, Hague Bar, Rowarthmarker, Brookbottommarker, Gowhole, and most of Birch Valemarker. At its lowest point it is about 120m above sea level, but the valley sides rise to 370m at the highest points above Rowarth. The watercourses to the north, particularly the Rowarth Brook, drain the southward slopes of Mellor Moor, Cown Edge and Lantern Pike. The River Sett and its tributary the Kinder drain much of the plateau of Kinder Scoutmarker; the Sett flows through Hayfield before passing through Birch Vale to the Torrs and the River Goyt. The Goyt rises on the moors of Axe Edgemarker, near the River Danemarker and the Cat and Fiddle Innmarker between Buxtonmarker and Macclesfieldmarker. It passes through Whaley Bridgemarker, where it is joined by the Todd Brook and the Black Brook from Chapel-en-le-Frithmarker. The sides of the Goyt valley have been used to carry two railway lines, the Peak Forest Canalmarker and the A6 trunk road from Londonmarker to Carlisle via Manchestermarker; these all pass through New Mills.

Geologically speaking, New Mills lies in the Goyt Trough. The rocks are from the Carboniferous period, with underlying gritstone sandstones. There are coal measures present and coal has been mined at over 30 locations in the area, including Pingot Pit. There are three narrow seams of coal present: Red Ash, Little Mine and the Yard Seam. The Yard Coal is so named because that is the average thickness of the seam; it is the lowest seam and rests on Woodhead Hill Sandstone. In these seams lead ore has also been extracted. Beardmoor Colliery, Ollersett or Burnt Edge Colliery and Lee or New Mills Colliery all worked the three-foot seam. A cubic yard of coal weighs about half an imperial ton, and Yard Seam would produce 4500 tons per acre. Bigrave Edge or Broadmoor Edge Colliery worked the Red Ash seam, which was only 18 inches thick.

In the Torrs Gorge, the Rivers Goyt and Sett cut into the strata of the Woodhead Hill Sandstone. The centre of New Mills is built on this sandstone, which is an excellent building stone. Thus the stone needed to build the three mills in the Torrs was quarried on site.


New Mills is served by two railway stations: New Mills Centralmarker on the Hope Valley line on the north bank of the River Goytmarker, and New Mills Newtownmarker on the Buxton Line which runs on the south bank on the 175m contour. The main Manchester to Sheffield 'fast' line passes through between the town centre and Newtown, by-passing the stations. It emerges from the Disley Tunnel on a lower (150m) contour than the canal on the south bank, crosses the Goyt on a viaduct, and is joined by the Hope Valley Line at New Mills South Junction. A short branch of the Midland railway once led to the village of Hayfieldmarker. This was dismantled in 1970 and is now the Sett Valley Trailmarker, which stretches for 2½ miles to the north-east of the town.

The A6 road passes through Newtown, a little to the south and slightly above the Buxton Line.

The Peak Forest Canalmarker was watered in 1796. It passes through Newtown, where there is a marina. It follows the 155m contour.

The town also has a Bus Station, which is served by Bowers Coaches 61 (Glossopmarker/New Mills/Buxtonmarker), Bowers Coaches 62 and 62a (Chapel-en-le-Frithmarker/Hayfieldmarker/New Mills/Marplemarker), TM Travel 67 (Manchestermarker/New Mills/Tideswellmarker/Chesterfieldmarker), Stagecoach Manchester 358 (Hayfield/New Mills/Marple/Stockportmarker) and Bowers Coaches 389 (New Mills Town Services).


The principal secondary school is the New Mills School and Business and Enterprise College. This comprehensive school occupies the buildings of the former New Mills Grammar School and educates children from 11 to 19 years of age. There are six primary schools: St. George's school (CE), St. Mary's (RC), New Mills County Primary, Newtown, Hague Bar and Thornsett.


New Mills' economy was original built on agriculture, then coal mining and then cotton spinning and bleaching. There was a little weaving but cotton bleaching and calico printing continues into the second half of the twentieth century. The mills have now all closed. TodaySwizzels Matlow, who make children's sweets, is a large employer. The company transferred to New Mills from London during the Blitz and has remained ever since[48955]. Famous brands include 'Parma Violets', 'Refresher' chews, 'Drumstick' lollies and - perhaps most famously - Love Hearts Folk memory relates that children from local schools were often asked to test new sweet flavours which were created. .

Tourism was boosted in 1984 when the Torrs was reopened as a riverside park, and further when the spectacular Millennium Walkway opened in 1999, joining the two ends of the gorge.

The Plain English Campaign has its headquarters in the town.


New Mills sits atop The Torrs, a dramatic gorge through which the Rivers Goyt and Sett flow. Nestled in a bend of the Goyt is Torr Vale Millmarker, a Grade II* listed building. The Torrs Millennium Walkway, overlooking the mill, was built at a cost of £525,000 (almost half from the Millennium Commission) by Derbyshire County Council’s in-house engineers. The walkway spans the otherwise inaccessible cliff wall above the River Goyt. Part rises from the riverbed on stilts and part is cantilevered off the railway retaining wall. It provided the final link in the 225-mile Midshires Waymarker.

Torrs Hydromarker is a 2.4-metre-diameter 'Reverse Archimedean Screw' micro hydroelectric scheme at the Torr Weir on the Goyt. It generates 70 kW of electricity. Nicknamed 'Archie', it is owned by the community.

Religious sites

The area around Mellor and New Mills has a strong Methodist tradition. John Wesley first preached in the are in 1740, at a sheepfold at the Bongs in neighbouring Mellor. He visited again April 28th 1745, May 12th 1747 and August 31st, 1748. The Wesleyan Methodists were established in 1748. At first, meetings were held in people's homes; land was bought on the High Street for a Wesleyan chapel in 1766..This was the first place of worship in the town. Wesley visited in 1768, 1772, 1774, 1776, 1779,1782 and 1788. By 1808 that chapel was too small, and a larger one was built in St Georges Road, Brookside (Low Leighton).The church was influential and many of the millowners were members:Samuel Schofield, of Warksmoor House and of Torr Mill, the Armsrongs of Torr Vale Mill, The family of Hibbert, including Robert Hibbert, of Warksmoor who built the first cotton mill in Newtown, The Barnes, Thatchers, Arnfields, Bridges, Willans and Bennett’s, all industrialists are buried in the chapel. The larger chapel was closed and demolished in the 1960s and the Methodist have reverted to the High Street Chapel.

The hamlets on Bowden Middlecale and Mellor were originally in the ancient parish of Glossop. Chapelries were established at Mellor and Hayfield, and New Mills was split between the two. The Church of England parish church of St Georges was built in 1839 to a simple renaissance plan with galleries; it has 7 bays, decorated with simple Gothic-style lancet windows. It 1844 the hamlets of Beard, Ollersett, Thornsett and Whitle became a parish. St. Mary's is the Roman Catholic church.

Culture and community

New Mills also plays host to the One World Festival every June. The festival incorporates "a mixture of serious issues, good music and fun in the open air". The free one-day event raises awareness of organisations that work "for a better, fairer world". In 2008 the festival's theme was 'Reduce, Re-use, Recycle'. Part of this theme has been to launch a campaign to make New Mills plastic bag free under the banner 'One World, One Bag'.

Sport and leisure

New Mills A.F.C.marker ('The Millers') are the local football team and play in the North West Counties League Premier Division. The football ground at Church Lane boasts two pitches — one 'all weather' — and floodlights. New Mills Cricket Club, with their ground on Church Road, play in the Derbyshire and Cheshire League. There is a leisure centre, including a swimming pool, which opened in 1980. Until the early 1980s, the town held an annual cycle race.

New Mills Golf Club is a members' club set on the top of the northerly hill overlooking the town, with views of Kinder Scout, the city of Manchester and the Welsh mountains. The course was formed in 1907 and extended to its current 18-hole, 5604-yard par 69 course in 2003 prior to the clubhouse extension and centenary celebration in 2007.

Market Street, New Mills
New Mills Town Hall (built 1871, clock tower added 1875)

Notable residents

  • Thomas Handford: The interpretation plaque at the town's former prison tells it all:
A working man, a teetotaler for ten years, who was formerly a notorious drinker and a notorious poacher has recently invested his sober earnings in the purchase of the town prison which he has converted into a comfortable dwelling house. Frequently an inmate of the prison whilst a drunkard and poacher, he is now owner of the whole and occupier of the premises. Thomas Handford 1854 ’.

See also


  1. English Place-Name Society Database at Nottingham University
  2. New Mills Local History Society Web site
  3. High Peak Council
  4. New Mills mines and mining
  5. New Mills School and Business and Enterprise College Website
  6. [1] One World Ferstival
  7. Drunkards Reform

External links

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