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Turton, Bolton, Lancs

Extracts relating to my family from "Horrobin Mill....Bleachworks in the Jumbles"

by J.J.Francis (1992)

A Publication of Turton Local History Society.


Horrobin Mill Bleachworks, one of the oldest Bleachworks in the Bolton area of Lancashire ceased trading in 1937 after over 150 years activity. In 1964 the land was purchased by the County Borough of Bolton to enable the Jumbles Reservoir to be built and the remains of the Horrobin Works can only be seen in the mud levels of a drought year.

The Beginnings

Turton was the largest of the eighteen Townships making up the ancient parish of Bolton le Moors. The name Horrobin can be attributed to an early family of that name and records of Horrobine, Horobyn and Horobin are found. In 1748 there is a reference to Horrobin Mill, indicating possibly a corn mill or fulling mill. It was probably an agrigultural holding alongside some “hand crofting” ( bleaching). At that time all the land in the area was owned by the Lord of the Manor of Turton. The maintenance of the roads, fences, gates, small bridges and culverts was the responsibility of the tenants bordering the road etc, Defaulters were examined by the Manor Court of Turton, consisting of thirteen jurors selected from the area. These Court records give many clues as to the occupants of various properties and their problems.

The Ainsworth and Cort Era

James Ainsworth became the tenant of Horrobin Mill around 1780. He was the youngest son of Peter Ainsworth and Alice, one of eleven children. His father Peter Ainsworth (1713-1780) had started in bleaching at Halliwell, and his son James himself started at Breightmet Fold before coming to Turton. James was engaged in Hand Crofting, which was open air bleaching ( described later) . The Horrobin Mill land was well wooded and included at least 42 oak trees. James was made bankrupt in 1798 but apparently still continued. He died in 1810, aged 62.

Peter Cort was first recorded as a Court juror in 1801. In 1821 his entry in the Court Records was as Peter Cort &Co. He was also mentioned in the Manchester Mercury on 30th May 1820 viz: Thomas Ainsworth of Bolton, Richard Ainsworth, late of Cheapside now of Bolton, James Thornley of Warrington and Peter Cort of Turton, Whitsters, Dealers, Chapmen and Partners (surviving partners of Jeremiah Thornley, deceased) carrying on business at Turton under the firm of Peter Cort & Co.

The partnership became bankrupt but recovered and in 1828 Peter Cort was succeeeded by his son Peter Cort Jnr. He, in partnership with Thomas Ainsworth, also operated both Bradshaw and Turton Bleachworks. Over the next few years there were continual developments and mergers. Thomas Appleton, a banker, had become a partner in the Bleachworks. In 1833 the Horrobin tenancy was 51 acres including 5.5acres of works. Following the death of Peter Cort from consumption in 1850, the Horrobin Works passed to the Appleton family.

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