A Brief History


A Brief History of the site
There have been Mills on the Langcliffe stretch of the River Ribble since the Middle Ages with two, High Mill and Old Mill having been built by the Monks of Furness Abbey.

Previously known as The Shed, Watershed Mill dates back to 1785. Situated close to the larger High Mill, it was built as a cotton mill to house the new spinning machines of the age, invented by a friend of the mill owners, Richard Arkwright.

It was converted into a weaving mill in the 1820's, however financial difficulties encountered by the mill's owners led to its closure in 1855 leaving many workers to find employment elsewhere.

Both High Mill and Watershed Mill were bought in 1861 by Lorenzo Christie from Derbyshire, who replaced the building's weaving looms with spinning machines, and then doubling machines. Lorenzo's son, Hector eventually took over the business, bringing families in from Devon, Cornwall and Norfolk tp work in the mills. Children aged 10 to 14 often worked part-time, going full-time in the mill when they reached 14. The working day would start at 6am and finish as 5.30pm, with half an hour for breakfast and one hour for lunch.

Hector Christie was responsible for the building of the Langcliffe Institute for the local community, which is still used today and in St Alkedas church there is a plaque in the wall commemorating him.

By the 1930's, High Mill emlployed around 250 people, with over 100 working at Watershed Mill. By then, the working day started slightly later at 7.30am, but if a worker was late, one penny was deducted from their wages. Other compensations, however, included an excellent sports complex with tennis courts and greens for bowling and putting.

Both High Mill and Watershed Mill closed in the early 1950s. Watershed Mill was initially purchased by corn merchants who used it as a warehouse, but it was eventually bought by the Edinburgh Woollen Mill who have turned the Mill into one of the area's leading retail destinations, preserving it for future generations.