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Greater Manchester Mill Survey Archive

Date range: 1985–2000.

A survey to identify and record all surviving textile mills within Greater Manchester was undertaken by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England and the Greater Manchester Archaeological Unit in 1985–86, at a time when the stock of surviving cotton mills was being rapidly depleted through demolition or conversion to other uses.

The results of the survey were published in 1992 (see below). Already the survey and the associated archive are of considerable historical interest as subsequently many of the mills have disappeared altogether or been extensively modified.

The archive contains the research materials compiled in the course of the project. These comprise:

  • correspondence concerning the establishment and funding of the project, the progress of the survey, and the final publication
  • general research materials such as notes and photocopies of articles and monographs on the history of the textile industry, cotton mills and industrial archaeology
  • photocopies of aerial photographs of mills; ground-level photographs (b/w prints) of mills
  • survey data sheets for individual sites
  • files on particular mills

Mills were divided into four categories:

  • Category A sites (forty-nine mills) were selected for detailed recording; files contain a full written report, a surveyed plan and elevation, historical and documentary information, photocopies of plans and documents, 35mm and large-format photographs and aerial photographs.
  • Category B sites were selected for detailed recording but without a full written report; files contain historical and documentary information and various combinations of plans and photographs.
  • Category C sites are recorded in the archive with site survey sheets, a printout of the county Sites and Monuments Record database entry, and ground and aerial photographs.
  • Category D sites were no longer extant when the survey was undertaken but are mentioned in the text of the publication.

Finding aids

  • Catalogue available online via ELGAR.
  • Mike Williams and D.A. Farnie, Cotton Mills in Greater Manchester (Preston, 1992).


The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library