On this day … 11 January 1860

The Preston Guardian reported the demolition of the ‘Old Factory’, the first cotton mill in Preston, erected in 1777 in Moor Lane.

In his chapter titled Waterways in his Preston Street Names book, John Bannister includes the following about the mill:

A stream that flowed down Walker Street powered the water-wheel of Preston’s first cotton mill, built at the junction of Moor Lane and Walker Street by Collinson and Watson in 1777. It crossed the bottom end of Friargate, where it was known as Brand’s Channel, and then followed the line of Kendal Street, earlier known as Canal Street. It then went under the new Polytechnic Building and the now filled-in canal.

The mill occupied the site of a large barn or outbuilding on the estate of Townsend Hall, the mansion of the family called Preston who settled in the town in the 13th century.

The barn was still there in 1774 when Lang mapped the town, although the mansion itself, also known as Preston Hall, had by then been demolished. It is possible that the original cotton spinning enterprise was housed in the Townsend Hall barn when it began operating three years later. If so, it would nicely link medieval Preston with the early days of the industrial revolution in the town.

The plan pictured is based on a 1685 survey of Preston.

The main branch of the Preston family left the town for Ireland early in the 14th century, where they later joined the ranks of the Irish nobility as the Viscounts Gormanston.

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