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Knowle Mill, Keighley

Description: Knowle Mill

Grade: II
Date Listed: 5 March 2015
Building ID: 1420368

OS Grid Reference: SE0600840311
OS Grid Coordinates: 406008, 440311
Latitude/Longitude: 53.8590, -1.9101

Locality: Keighley
County: Bradford
Postcode: BD21 1AG

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Listing Text


Knowle Mill is a former worsted textile mill constructed in two phases in the early twentieth century, built in stone with slate roofs and currently in multiple use.

Reason for Listing

Knowle Mill, Keighley, an early C20 former worsted mill, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Date: the early C20 date of construction of the two phases of the mill demonstrate the last phase of expansion of the nationally important textile industry of West Yorkshire; * Architecture: the architecture of the mill buildings clearly shows their original functions, and furthermore reflects the changing style of industrial buildings at the beginning of the C20; * Integrated site: Knowle Mill retains all the elements of an integrated textile mill, including spinning mills, weaving shed, chimney, engine room, boiler room and reception office building and joiners workshop.


Knowle Mill was designed as a worsted spinning mill in 1906 by J.B. Bailey & sons, architects, of Keighley, for Richard Edmondson, J.P., worsted spinner (also a councillor, mayor and then alderman of Keighley). Edmondson worked from Acres Mill in the 1880s and also had involvement in Fleece Mill. Most of the site was previously unoccupied, and Hove Mill, which had occupied one part of the site, was removed. The first phase of the new construction was completed in 1908. It was planned as half of a double mill of 17 bays and four storeys plus basement, and included the engine house, boiler house, chimney and a small shed to the rear. The shed was enlarged, probably in 1909, and was used as a waste room. The firm of Thomas Hird and Sons ran 17,000 spindles at Knowle and Acres Mills in 1910, which had expanded to 20,000 after the First World War. Expansion in 1926 included the installation of new Marsden steam engines and a new boiler house as well as the construction of a second mill building of 19 bays, immediately to the south of the first. Production continued to grow in conjunction with nearby mills, reaching 50,000 spindles at Knowle, Acres and Beech Mills in 1960. Production included worsted and man-made fibres at this period. The O.S 1:1250 map of 1964-75 marks it as a spinning mill. John P Heaton and Co of Keighley subsequently sold it in 1985 and the buildings were converted to multiple use.


Former worsted mill, 1906-8 and 1926, designed by Keighley architects J. B. Bailey and Son.MATERIALS: coursed gritstone with blue slate roofs, and a chimney and joiners shop of red brick.PLAN: the two multi-storey spinning mills are aligned end-to-end on a north-south axis, the 1908 mill to the north and the 1926 mill to the south. To the rear (east) of the north mill is an attached north-lights weaving shed of two phases. A former engine house lies to the south of the shed, at the central point of the two spinning mills, and the boiler house lies alongside to the south. The chimney is free-standing to the south of the boiler house. Alongside the entrance to the west is a small entrance building and to the south of this is a brick joiners shop.EXTERIOR: North mill: this has four storeys plus basement and is seventeen bays long under a hipped double-span roof giving a depth of six bays. The main entrance is at the southern end of the west elevation, with a line of taking-in doors in the adjacent bay to the north. The windows on the ground, first and second floors are tall, those on the third floor squarer, all with multi-paned glazing, plain cills and lintels and linking binder blocks below the window heads. At the north-west corner is an external privy tower with narrow lancet windows. The north elevation has a line of taking-in doors, with an external fire escape, on the rear bay of the front roof.

South mill: this is similar to the above, with its main entrance adjacent to that of the north mill. The three bays occupied by the two entrances and the taking in doors are topped by a dentilled parapet carrying the name KNOWLE MILLS in serif capitals. At the southern end of the west elevation is a further line of taking in doors. On the south elevation is a combined stair, hoist and privy tower occupying most of the depth of the building. The windows and other details are otherwise similar to the north mill.

Weaving sheds: the shed is trapezoidal in shape, constrained by the shape of the site. It is joined to the north mill by a covered passage with a glazed roof and has a single storey with a basement that becomes a full lower floor to the southern end. The south elevation has an entrance towards the right and two large ground floor and three first floor windows with a projecting bay to the right with two narrow windows to each floor.

Engine house: the engine house lies between the shed and the boiler house with only its east elevation visible. The gable end has an entrance to the right with a large multi-paned window above, and external iron steps up to a large first floor window/entrance to the left.

Boiler house: the boiler house projects a little further east than the engine house and is lower and wider. The lower half is rendered, with a narrow doorway to the right and there are two narrow windows in the gable above. The south elevation has two roof lights and a raised section adjoining the spinning mill with a small window, with a garage entrance below.

Chimney: the chimney has a square section, tapering with a moulded cornice and a draught cone.

Office: on the south side of the main entrance is a small office building itemised as a shop in 1985, probably originally an entrance lodge. It has a steeply pitched asbestos roof and two three light windows on its northern side. The east gable end has a recessed doorway to the right and a half glazed vehicle entrance to the left that extends beyond the main roof line. The south side has a raised section to the right to accommodate the vehicle entrance.

Joiners shop: the two-storey building is identified as a joiners or engineers shop in 1985, and as a fire house by the current owner. It is in red brick with a monopitch roof facing east. The main, east elevation has two wide vehicle entrances with wooden half-glazed doors and a central door. There are three wooden framed multi-pane windows to the first floor, and a single window on the south side together with a first floor entrance. A brick chimney stack rises from the centre of the south elevation.

INTERIORS: North Mill: the main entrance at the southern end leads into a concrete dog-leg staircase with iron hand rails, leading down to the basement and up to the upper floors. Alongside it is a hoist and a space formerly occupied by a rope race that was powered by the engine house to the rear. Each of the four floors has a central row of cast iron columns extending along the centre, supporting timber beams and joists. The columns have square section bolting heads for former line shafting. The third floor is open to the double span roof structure which has timber king-post trusses with iron tie-rods. The basement is divided by later partitions and also has cast iron columns without bolting heads.

South mill: the interiors of the two spinning mills are almost exact mirror images, with the entrance and staircase at the northern end. The basement is in two parts, the northern three bays with cast columns without bolting heads (possibly constructed at the same time as the earlier mill) and the remaining sixteen bays taller with cast columns with bolting heads. The basement columns support steel joists and a concrete floor.

Weaving sheds: the interior is partitioned* and used as office space. The timber-framed north light roofs supported by a central run of cast iron columns remain on the main floor. The lower floor has columns supporting steel joists under a timber floor.

Engine shed and boiler house: the interiors were not accessible for safety reasons.

Office: the interior is partitioned*for use as an office and has no features of interest.

Joiners shop: the interior was not inspected.

* Exclusions: Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that the modern breeze-block and stud partitions in the weaving sheds and the office are not of special architectural or historic interest and are excluded from the listing.

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