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Queen Street Mill, Burnley

Description: Queen Street Mill

Grade: I
Date Listed: 23 December 2013
Building ID: 1416482

OS Grid Reference: SD8680434898
OS Grid Coordinates: 386806, 434900
Latitude/Longitude: 53.8102, -2.2018

Locality: Burnley
Local Authority: Burnley Borough Council
County: Lancashire
Postcode: BB10 2HX

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Listing Text


A textile weaving mill built 1894-5 with early C20 additions and alterations, now a working museum.

Reason for Listing

Queen Street Mill, a late C19 textile weaving mill with later additions, is listed at Grade I for the following principal reasons:
* Rarity: Queen Street Mill is claimed to be the last surviving working C19 steam-powered textile weaving mill in the world;
* Intactness: it is considered to be the most complete textile weaving mill in the United Kingdom;
* Machinery: its assemblage of working machinery including steam engine, boiler, economiser, line and cross shafts, looms and other assorted machinery is unsurpassed in any other British textile weaving mill;
* Regional distinctiveness: Queen Street Mill epitomises the high point of the Lancashire textile weaving industry when cotton production was Britain's principle source of industrial wealth.


Queen Street Mill was built during 1894-5 by the Queen Street Manufacturing Company at a time when cotton production in Lancashire was Britain's principal source of industrial wealth. The mill comprised a three-storey block plus an attic, engine house, boiler house, and a single-storey weaving shed that housed single-shuttle Lancashire looms. Within the multi-storey block the ground floor was the weft department, the first floor used for office and warehouse space, the second floor housed the winding and beaming machinery, and the third floor was the preparation department for tape sizing. The looms were all supplied by the Burnley-based firms of Pemberton and Harling & Todd, and were powered by a tandem compound horizontal steam engine, with a 14ft flywheel, supplied by William Roberts of Nelson in 1895. The steam was raised in a single Lancashire boiler, although capacity was increased in 1901 when a second boiler was added. The mill largely produced plain cotton calico known as 'grey cloth'.

In the early C20 the weaving shed was doubled in size. A serious fire at the mill in 1918 resulted in the reduction in height of the multi-storey block and it was remodelled as a single-storey shed retaining a two-storey fenestration with a saw-toothed roof and it now contains some modern internal subdivisions. Approximately 100 looms were taken out of what was previously called the 'parlour', and this became the warehouse.

The mill closed in 1982 and much of it has since been turned into The Museum of the Lancashire Textile Industry. In recent years the early C20 northern part of the weaving shed has been separated off and subdivided into a number of separate workshop units for private rental. The 1901 Lancashire boiler is regularly fired and the mill engine is still run regularly to power a bank of Lancashire looms in the original part of the weaving shed, producing a small range of cotton products for sale to visitors. Lancashire looms and other assorted internal machinery is in situ and all contemporary with the mill buildings.

Queen Street Mill is described by the Lancashire Museums Service as 'the world's only surviving C19 steam powered weaving mill' and is recognised as the most complete example of a weaving mill in the United Kingdom. This completeness has made it a popular location for film and television productions.


A cotton weaving mill of 1894-5 with later additions and alterations, now largely operating as The Museum of the Lancashire Textile Industry. It was built by the Queen Street Manufacturing Company, architect unknown, predominantly using rock-faced stone with dressed stone detailing. Red brick is used for the chimney and one of the two stables, and the whole complex has slate and north-light slate and glass roofs. It comprises a preparation block, weaving shed, engine house, boiler house and chimney, with a separate mill lodge or reservoir and a former stable block to the south. The complex is approximately square in plan.

EXTERIOR: from right to left the Queen Street (east) elevation has the weaving shed wall topped by flat coping stones and, in places, modern fencing. A projecting single-storey pitched roof building with an off-centre pedestrian door, a pair of stone mullion windows and a single window, fronts the slightly higher northern end of the preparation block housing the despatch and warehouse. This projecting building's south return contains a modern metal roll shutter door for vehicle access. The remainder of the preparation block consists of seven bays and appears two-storey externally. It has a central pedestrian door with 18-pane windows to the ground floor and 12-pane windows above. Both the preparation block and the projecting building have dentilled eaves. Attached to the south of the preparation block are the engine house and boiler house. The engine house has a panelled pedestrian double door with rectangular light above and above this there is a large, round-arched 21-pane window beneath a projecting hoist girder. The adjacent boiler house is gable-fronted with a broad sliding timber part-glazed double door within which is a pedestrian door. Above the door there is 16-pane window.

The south elevation has the three 9-pane windows to the boiler house and, at its west end, a pedestrian door and a 9-pane window to the vertical tube economiser room and cellar. Above this the flat roof holds an iron water tank. Behind the boiler house the south elevation of the engine house displays four round-headed windows high on the wall. The west return of this block has a 16-pane window to the economiser room beneath which a short brick-built flue channels gases to the adjacent mill chimney. The chimney is circular and of red brick reinforced with metal strapping. It has had the top 7m rebuilt and bears the words 'QUEEN STREET MILL' on its upper half. Adjacent to the economiser room the engine house contains a large 16-pane window beneath a round-headed relieving arch. Beneath the window a small door gives access to the cellar. The south elevation of the weaving shed has museum entrance doors towards its eastern end and five windows towards its western end. Iron downspouts are fitted to channel water down from the weaving shed's valley gutters.

The west elevation of the weaving shed has plain walls for much of its lengths apart from two small windows, a pedestrian door and a modern metal roll shutter door towards its northern end.

The north elevation comprises the plain north wall of the weaving shed fitted with iron downspouts which perform the same function as those on the shed's south wall.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: a stone-lined mill lodge or reservoir fills the south west part of the mill site.

At the south-east corner of the mill complex there is an L-shaped stable block of two phases. The northern stable is of rock-faced stone beneath a pitched roof. It has a door on its gabled east elevation and 12-pane windows in its east and west elevations. The southern stable is built of brick on a stone plinth. It has a door on its gabled east elevation with a taking-in door above and windows on its west and north elevations.

A low stone boundary wall topped by triangular-shaped coping stones runs north from the stable along Queen Street for a short distance. It also runs west and forms the entire southern boundary of the mill site and part of the western boundary of the site.

INTERIOR: the preparation block forms the eastern range of the mill and is open to the ceiling. It contains the tape sizing room, the drawing-in room, the despatch room and the warehouse. It has a saw-toothed roof carried on I-section steel beams and 7" diameter columns. Some modern partitioning has been inserted to facilitate the museum displays. The tape sizing room contains two tape sizing machines manufactured by Howard & Bullough of Accrington and various cotton winding machines including a Pirn winding machine, a Barber-Colman warp tying machine, and a Leesona Roto-Cone Winder manufactured in 1948 in Providence, USA. The warehouse now contains various examples of different looms used in the Lancashire cotton industry. Throughout the preparation block line shafts have been retained and represent the remodelling of the power system following the fire of 1918.

The weaving shed lies immediately west of the preparation block and is of 18 bays depth. It's southern end has been adapted for use as the museum reception area, shop, cafe, toilets, education room and offices while, its northern end has been subdivided into a number of separate workshop units. The central part of the weaving shed consists of five bays containing 308 lightweight Lancashire looms manufactured by the Burnley loom-makers Pemberton and Harling & Todd. The majority of the leather belt drives are retained and the cross shafts are carried on projecting cast-iron end bearings at their western ends, with wide rounded bolting plates to the elevation. Rectangular drip trays hang below each bearing. The west wall retains two-rowlock segmentally-arched alcoves to each bay, some remodelled, but others retaining tackler's benches and cupboards. Each bay within the functional shed also retains a vertical metal vent with mesh caps against the west wall. The multi-span saw-toothed northern-light roof is carried by hollow cylindrical cast iron columns each containing an integral through-bolt hanger, with additional cross shaft hangers being bolted to the roof valleys at the mid-point between columns on their north-south axis. The channel-section cast-iron roof valley gutters are on a north-south orientation and are internally shuttered within the shed and both the original and extended roof have identical trusses comprising T-section cast-iron trusses, with timber window panels bolted between rafters on the east pitch. The east wall of the weaving shed is of brick construction and forms a partition between it and the preparation block. It houses dressed sandstone corbels carrying bevel gears translating power from the primary motion shaft which runs north-south along this wall to cross shafts for the looms. These survive in situ and remain functional, retaining oiling bulbs and drip trays. The east wall also retains extant and blocked doorways with cast-iron lintels and both batten and fireproof sliding doors. On the south wall of the weaving shed the primary motion shaft houses a bevel gear which translates power through the dividing wall into the preparation block. The first shaft was driven by a large rope wheel attached to the third cross shaft with an end bearing bolted to the wall face. The first, second and fourth shafts have been partially cut, but elsewhere the shafts remain in-situ and in full working order. Each shaft retains single and double drums, and joint casings at the eastern end of alternate bays.

The steam power plant, comprising the engine house, boiler house and chimney. The engine house is a tall, narrow structure with long round-headed windows to the east and west walls and round-headed windows in the south wall. There are green-glazed tiles to dado height around the walls. The working engine, named 'PEACE' is a tandem compound steam engine, built-originally in 1895 by William Roberts of Nelson, and remodelled by the same firm in 1914. The engine is rated at 500 hp, with cylinders that are 16 and 32 inches by a 4 foot stroke, and a 14 foot flywheel. The boiler house contains two coal-fired Lancashire boilers, the original one of 1895, and a later one which is in working order, made by Tinker, Shenton & Company Ltd of Hyde. At the back of the boiler house there is a Green's vertical tube economiser. The red brick chimney lies immediately to the west of the engine and boiler houses.

The former stable block is of two storeys. It has been modernised with a rebuilt timber floor to the first floor and brick internal walls. The southern stable has been recreated as a stable as part of the museum display.

Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 ('the Act') it is declared that the modern internal room partitioning in the weaving shed is not of special architectural or historic interest.

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.