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Glasgow Cotton Spinning Company

Urban regeneration needs to be anchored on some retained buildings if a place is not to be completely rootless. Even Dalmarnock, in the East End of Glasgow, which witnessed wholesale destruction of housing through Comprehensive Development Areas in the 1970s, has some reminders of its 19th century past as a measure of changes wrought in the 20th century and again in advance of the Commonwealth Games.

The mule and part of the ring spinning mill of the Glasgow Cotton Spinning Co is on the right of this photo, taken on 29/05/1929 © Crown copyright RCAHMS

(The mule and part of the ring spinning mill of the Glasgow Cotton Spinning Co
is on the right of this photo, taken on 29/05/1929 © Crown copyright RCAHMS)

Glasgow Cotton Spinning Company Mill Number 1 is one of these reminders, built in 1884. It was commissioned by a group of local spinners, weavers and dyers in answer to the Oldham Limited Liability companies of Greater Manchester, which concentrated resources to achieve economies of scale by horizontal integration. Designed to the last detail by Oldham architect Joseph Stott it shares these common attributes with mills in the Oldham area:

  • Faced with hard pressed red brick, architectural detailing is restrained Italian classicism, with particular emphasis on the stair and the arcading to the office

  • Designed in 1883, cotton mills of that period were divided by a rope race running from a projecting horizontal engine house, into a small part for blowing (a fire risk) and a larger space for

  • Spinning mules, which were machines laid transversely to the length of the mill, unencumbered by any projection into the rectangular floor space

  • A span sufficient to cross the space taken by the moving carriages of a pair of mules required more than one vault in the floor system, which is fireproof and here of two arches per span.

  • All stair and toilet towers are concentrated at the angles or outer edge of the mill. In this case the stair continues up to form a tower for architectural effect.

  • A dust flue rises from the blowing room via the rope race just behind the stair tower.

  • Two storey outshots were for yarn storage and despatch below reeling (rear) and carding (south), with a reinforced concrete addition made by DRG Laird Packaging Ltd.

  • A double mill is not unusual in Oldham, but the fact that a second mill was built in 1889 for ring not mule spinning is evidence of the need in Glasgow for greater flexibility and ability to react to demand. This American technology required less skill, was cheaper to operate and is taken as a measure of relatively advanced technology.

Closed in the Depression, c1928-32, it was converted to make cardboard packaging and is still useful today, for self-storage.

For more about the Glasgow Cotton Spinning Company and some of the original architects drawings, by courtesy of Oldham Local Studies and Archives, please see the PDF below.

PDF icon Glasgow Cotton Spinning Company Ltd [PDF, 407KB]