A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 11, Bisley and Longtree Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.
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Nailworth owed its development almost entirely to the cloth industry; the steep hillsides, which were thickly wooded, offered little scope for agricultural settlement. In 1608 in the Avening part of the parish agricultural activity was represented only by a single husbandman. He was Robert Tanner, (fn. 1) probably the same man who held the capital messuage of Nailsworth manor with 84 a. of land in 1635. The 22 other tenants, usually holding for lives, were mainly cottagers. (fn. 2) Horsley manor had a few tenants at Nailsworth, including one with a ½-yardland tenement, comprising 4 a. of several pasture, 25 a. of arable, and pasture for 50 sheep, which the lord of the manor alienated at a quit-rent in 1562. (fn. 3) Horsley manor retained some tenements, on 99-year leases determinable by lives, in the 17th century. (fn. 4) The Nailsworth manor estate included 53 a. of open-field arable in 1635 (fn. 5) and two fields, North field and West field, were mentioned in 1651; they evidently lay in the valley and on the lower hill slopes north and north-west of the town. (fn. 6) The fields are not recorded after the 17th century, and later Nailsworth contained no more than one or two farms, lying in its western part.
Mills and the Cloth Industry.
Nailsworth parish included the sites of at least 14 mills, situated on the various brooks which join to form the Nailsworth stream. The earliest evidence found of the cloth industry at Nailsworth was in 1448 when John the cardmaker was the lessee of meadow land there belonging to the Minchinhampton demesne. (fn. 7) Two clothiers, 10 weavers, and 13 tuckers were recorded in the part that lay in Avening in 1608, (fn. 8) and many of the cloth-workers recorded under Horsley in that year were probably living at Nailsworth. (fn. 9) Of the service trades of the industry, two millwrights were working at Nailsworth in 1820. (fn. 10) A firm of woolbrokers established at Nailsworth by T. M. Newman expanded its business to include wool-merchanting and -sorting c. 1880, operating from a warehouse at Chestnut Hill; it was carried on by the Newman family until 1963. (fn. 11)
On the Avening stream the highest mill in Nailsworth parish was Holcombe Mill, (fn. 12) which was presumably a cloth-mill by 1728 when William Webb, clothier of Holcombe, was recorded. (fn. 13) Samuel Clutterbuck of Holcombe, clothier, died in 1766, (fn. 14) and in 1798 the brothers Edmund and James Clutterbuck were making cloth there; (fn. 15) the mill was owned and occupied by Edmund in 1804 when it included 3 stocks, a gig-mill, and a dye-house. (fn. 16) In 1820 Joseph, Richard, and William Brown were making cloth there. (fn. 17) In 1839 James Clutterbuck was the owner, and after his death the following year (fn. 18) his trustees leased it to Edward and William Barnard of Nailsworth. (fn. 19) Roberts, Jowlings, & Co. occupied it in 1855 when the main mill was powered by 3 water-wheels and there was also a newly erected building called Spring Mill on the site. (fn. 20) Holcombe Mill later belonged to John Wise (d. by 1865), (fn. 21) and in 1870 it was worked by the firm of Wise, Stevens, and Whitby. By 1879 it had been adapted to flock, shoddy, and hearth-rug production by Porter & Co., later Mallett, Porter, & Dowd, who were succeeded early in the 20th century by the Purified Flock and Bedding Co.; the latter continued at the site until 1939 or later. (fn. 22) Afterwards it was occupied by the Holspring Bedding Co., (fn. 23) but the 19th-century buildings were derelict in 1973. The square, early-19thcentury millowner's house, Holcombe House, (fn. 24) stands above the site.
Nailsworth Mill, at the confluence of the Avening and Horsley streams, (fn. 25) was apparently the site of mills at Nailsworth that belonged to the lords of Minchinhampton and Avening. John West of Nailsworth held a mill from Minchinhampton manor in 1442, (fn. 26) and in 1635 the Windsors' Nailsworth manor estate included a messuage and 2 fulling-mills held by Thomas Jayne. (fn. 27) In 1686 the Sheppards leased to George Small and his sons John and Joseph 4 fulling-mills, a gig-mill, and a grist-mill, all lately built on land called Nailsworth Mead, and in 1715 the Sheppards also had other mills, at Lower Nailsworth, which they leased to the same or another George Small. (fn. 28) About 1800 Nailsworth Mill was apparently owned by a Mr. Heskins, (fn. 29) and Heskins, Barnard, and Bliss, recorded as clothiers and dyers in 1820, (fn. 30) probably occupied it. In 1833 it was worked as a cloth-mill by Edward Barnard, who employed 144 people; (fn. 31) the mill was powered by water and steam and included an old building and others added in 1806 and 1814. (fn. 32) In 1838 Barnard had 2 power-looms and 69 handlooms, although about half were then unemployed. (fn. 33) He got into financial difficulties and in 1840, with his partner William Barnard, conveyed his assets to trustees for the benefit of his creditors. (fn. 34) A. M. Flint bought the mill in 1845, (fn. 35) and was making cloth there in partnership with Enoch Francis in 1856. (fn. 36) The firm, as Flint & Sons, remained at Nailsworth Mill until 1878. (fn. 37) In 1879 it was acquired by E. A. Chamberlain, a leather-board manufacturer, (fn. 38) and his firm, which later switched to the production of fibreboard, remained at the site in 1973, supplying sheet material to the motor, electrical, travel goods, and footwear industries. About 400 people were then employed, some of them in a subsidiary company which manufactured specific components from the board and other materials. The buildings on the site were mainly modern, built after 1948, (fn. 39) the old mill having been destroyed by fire in 1901. (fn. 40)
The site of Egypt Mill, on the Nailsworth stream below, (fn. 41) was included in the property in which George Hudson, a London haberdasher, acquired the reversionary interest in 1656. In 1675 when Hudson sold it to Richard Webb, clothier, the property comprised 2 fulling-mills, a gig-mill, and a dye-house. Richard (d. 1712) left Egypt Mill to his son Richard (d. 1748), who left successive lifeinterests to his wife Elizabeth and son Richard with reversion to another son, Nathaniel. The younger Richard was dead by 1750 when Elizabeth surrendered her interest to Nathaniel. Nathaniel (d. 1782) was succeeded by his son Samuel, who had moved to Henbury by his death in 1832 and left his property to be sold. Peter Playne was the tenant in 1832 (fn. 42) and the firm of Playne and Smith was working the mill in 1839. (fn. 43) Egypt Mill was unoccupied for some years before 1870 when it became a dye-factory (fn. 44) and the business was carried on by two successive firms until at least 1885. (fn. 45) It was a corn-mill, known as Station Mill, by 1936 (fn. 46) and it remained one in 1973 when G. H. King & Son were the millers. It is a small stone range which was largely rebuilt in the early 19th century but incorporates parts of the earlier building; its two water-wheels remained in place in 1973. The clothier's residence, Egypt House, is a large, square, gabled house of the late 17th century with symmetrical elevations. (fn. 47)
Dunkirk Mill, the next below, (fn. 48) was said in 1833 to have been a fulling-mill for 200 years, (fn. 49) but no record of it has been found before 1741 when it was called New Mills. (fn. 50) Samuel Yeats worked it before 1784. (fn. 51) In 1798 it was rebuilt as a large five-storey mill by John Cooper, (fn. 52) and in 1804 it included 4 stocks, a gig-mill, dye-house, scouring-house, shearshops, press-house, and picking-house. (fn. 53) John was in partnership with Joseph Cooper when they went bankrupt in 1815, (fn. 54) and by 1818 Peter Playne was working the mill. (fn. 55) William Playne was then the owner but in 1822 he exchanged it with Peter for the latter's share of Longfords Mill. (fn. 56) The firm of Playne and Smith was working Dunkirk Mill in 1834, when steam-power had been installed, (fn. 57) and in 1838 the firm had 71 handlooms and 2 power-looms; (fn. 58) the Playne family continued to make cloth there until the 1880s. (fn. 59) From 1891 the mill was occupied by W. Walker & Sons, hosiery manufacturers of Nottingham, and in 1903 the Walker family bought a stickmaking business, and they carried on the two enterprises at Dunkirk (fn. 60) until 1937 when the hosiery business was transferred back to Nottingham. The stick-making firm and Wright, Bindley, and Gell, makers of umbrella fittings, who occupied another part of the mill from the beginning of the century, remained in occupation in the 1950s, (fn. 61) but in 1973 only a small part of the buildings was occupied, by an engineering firm. Dunkirk Mill is one of the largest mills surviving in the region, the original block put up by Cooper having been greatly extended to the south between 1818 and 1821 and to the north in 1855. (fn. 62)
Millbottom Mill, the highest on the Horsley stream within Nailsworth, (fn. 63) was a corn-mill belonging to the Horsley manor estate in 1564 when Richard Dennis granted it at a quit-rent to William Webb of Stroud, clothier. In 1651 it was owned by Edward Webb, who was succeeded by his son Thomas, and in 1693, by which time a fulling-mill and dye-house had been added to the site, Thomas sold it to his son Edward. By 1703 Edward Webb's mortgagee, Francis Clayfield, had taken possession and he mortgaged it to John Fowler, a Minchinhampton mercer. In 1715 John's widow, Hester, bought the equity of redemption and granted the mill to her son Daniel, also a mercer, in return for an annuity. Daniel's son Richard, who followed the same trade, succeeded and owned the mill in 1755, when it was said to comprise only the corn-mill and dye-house. Richard's widow Mary conveyed the mill in 1795 to Thomas Whitehead, who held the reversion, and he sold it in 1798 to Joseph Lock, brewer. (fn. 64) Joseph Horwood worked it as a corn-mill as tenant to Lock in the early years of the 19th century. (fn. 65) In 1831 it was acquired by Henry Daubeny of Bath who sold it in 1849 to Samuel Hadley, from whom George Ford bought it in 1852. (fn. 66) Ford Bros., mealmen, were working it in 1856, (fn. 67) and the Nailsworth works of John Ford & Son, timber-merchants of Ryeford, Stonehouse, recorded in 1879, (fn. 68) were evidently at Millbottom Mill. (fn. 69) In 1887, after the bankruptcy of Charles Ford, it was bought by Edward Benjamin, (fn. 70) who worked it as a corn-mill. (fn. 71) It was a leather-stiffener works in 1936, (fn. 72) and a manufactory of inks and aniline dyes in 1959, (fn. 73) but by 1973 the early-19th-century mill had been adapted as a house.
Gig Mill, below the Horsley-Nailsworth road, (fn. 74) was said to have been granted by the lord of Horsley manor to William Webb of Stroud in 1559, and it apparently formed part of the Horsley estate of Edward Webb, clothier (d. 1751). Elizabeth Castleman owned it as part of the same estate in 1786, when it comprised a grist-mill and a fullingmill in separate tenancies. (fn. 75) John Remington retained the ownership in 1799 (fn. 76) and apparently worked it with mills upstream, in Horsley, until 1808. (fn. 77) Gig Mill was being worked as a cloth-mill by James Thomas in 1823, (fn. 78) and by 1856 it was being used as a flock-mill by James Harris, whose firm continued in business there until the beginning of the next century. (fn. 79) A firm of fell-mongers took it over in 1909 and it was used for that purpose until the 1920s, (fn. 80) but was disused by 1936. (fn. 81) From 1945, however, it was occupied by A. E. & T. Dipple Ltd., sheet metal workers, who remained at the site, in modern buildings, in 1973 when they employed c. 40 people. (fn. 82)
Lock's Mill, below, (fn. 83) was probably the site where Joseph Lock had a brewery and mills for machinery in 1802, (fn. 84) and it may have been occupied by Philip Lock, cloth manufacturer, in 1820. (fn. 85) It was owned by James Agg Gardner and worked as a cloth-mill by John Hunt in 1840. (fn. 86) It was a corn-mill by 1882, (fn. 87) and housed a small engineering works in 1936 (fn. 88) and in 1973. The mill-house dates from the 17th century and has 18th-century additions, including a probable early mill building.
Day's Mill, also called Nailsworth Mill, in the town by the old cattle-market, (fn. 89) was apparently built or rebuilt by Jeremiah Day c. 1800. (fn. 90) It was owned in 1838 by Daniel Day's trustee and worked as a cloth-mill by Edward Wise. (fn. 91) John Wise occupied it in 1856 (fn. 92) and it was worked with Holcombe Mill in 1870. (fn. 93) It later became a flock and shoddy factory, worked in turn by George Heath & Co. and James Harris & Co., (fn. 94) and in the 1890s it was a cornmill, worked with Millbottom Mill. (fn. 95) It was used as a silk-mill before the Second World War, but then remained empty until 1958 when an engineering firm took it over. (fn. 96) Three small businesses were using the early-19th-century building in 1973.
Four small mills were in existence by 1824 on the stream flowing down the Newmarket valley, (fn. 97) one of them presumably representing the fulling-mill at Shortwood which the Wilkins family held on lease from Horsley manor in the 17th century. (fn. 98) The highest mill on the stream, at the Nodes, was occupied by William Ashmead in 1840; (fn. 99) it was called Upper Mill in 1882 when it was no longer used, (fn. 100) and the building was swept away by floods in 1931. (fn. 101) The next below, called Lot Mill, (fn. 102) was worked by Richard Fords in 1815, apparently as a cloth-mill. (fn. 103) It was owned by T. S. Bailward in 1840, when the tenant was Daniel Manning. (fn. 104) By 1879 H. J. H. King had started an engineering works at the site; (fn. 105) the firm came to specialize in malting-machinery and in the 1960s was taken over by Redler Conveyors Ltd., which afterwards transferred the business to its Dudbridge works. (fn. 106) A pond and building, situated about 250 yards below Lot Mill in 1840, (fn. 107) apparently represented another mill site, but no trace of them remained in 1882. (fn. 108) The lowest mill, at Walkleywood near the town, (fn. 109) was worked as a paper-mill by Thomas Kench in 1815 and by John Kench in 1820. (fn. 110) It was a brass-foundry in 1882 (fn. 111) and a corn-mill in 1936, (fn. 112) but later became a builder's workshop. (fn. 113)
At the north end of the parish were two mills on the lower part of the Inch brook. The higher one, Freame's Mill, (fn. 114) was evidently that held by Thomas Freame, a clothworker, in 1656, (fn. 115) and it was probably the fulling-mill that John Freame sold to Thomas Yeats in 1709. (fn. 116) Freame's Mill was rebuilt c. 1770 with 2 stocks and a gig, (fn. 117) and a newly erected grist-mill at the site was advertised for letting in 1786. It then belonged to William Biggs (fn. 118) who devised it to his niece Elizabeth, wife of James Norton, (fn. 119) and Norton and a partner made cloth there up to 1810 when they offered their stock for sale. (fn. 120) In 1820 Norton granted a 21-year lease to N. S. Marling, (fn. 121) who remained the tenant in 1838. (fn. 122) By 1856 Perkins, Critchley, and Marmont were making pins at the mill, (fn. 123) and before 1870 it became the Inchbrook works, where chemicals were made until shortly before the First World War. (fn. 124) The site was being redeveloped as the premises of a firm of structural engineers in 1973.
Pitt's Mill, a short way below, (fn. 125) was in the same ownership as Freame's Mill in the 19th century, and was included in the lease to Marling in 1820 (fn. 126) and afterwards used by the pin-makers (fn. 127) and chemical manufacturers. (fn. 128) It was being used as a flock and shoddy factory in the late 1950s, (fn. 129) but the small stone mill, which has a substantial house of c. 1800 adjoining, was unoccupied in 1973.
Other Industry and Trade.
Apart from the cloth manufacture, the only early industry in Nailsworth was a small glass-works in Colliers wood, west of Windsoredge, which operated for a short period in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. (fn. 130) The industries to which the local mills were adapted in the 19th century included, as related above, flock and shoddy, leather-board making, stick-making, engineering, and chemicals, and in addition bacon-curing and brewing were established.
Isaac Hillier, who was trading as a butcher at Newmarket by 1820, (fn. 131) later started a bacon-curing business in partnership with a Mr. Blackwell. (fn. 132) The factory, sited on the north side of the Newmarket valley, was slaughtering about 300 pigs a week by 1865 when a public company, Hilliers Bacon Curing Co. Ltd., was formed. Apart from a setback in the 1920s, expansion of the business continued in the 20th century; the factory was re-equipped after the Second World War to handle 2,000 pigs a week and a new packing factory was built in 1969. In 1973 c. 250 people were employed in preparing pies, sausages, and a range of other meat products. (fn. 133)
A brewery, in premises at the south end of Nailsworth town, was started before 1842 by Joseph and Samuel Clissold, and was later carried on as Joseph Clissold & Son. (fn. 134) It was taken over by the Cheltenham Original Brewery in 1908 (fn. 135) and closed down about two years later. (fn. 136)
In 1820 the beginning of the growth of Nailsworth town as a local trading centre was attested by the presence of 3 drapers, a dressmaker, 3 hat and bonnet makers, an ironmonger, a tallow-chandler, 2 watch and clock makers, a printer, a bookseller, and a hairdresser. Of the more usual country crafts only a shoemaker and a cooper were then recorded, (fn. 137) but by the mid 19th century craftsmen, particularly shoemakers, blacksmiths, and carpenters, were fairly numerous in the town, and the number of shopkeepers was increasing. (fn. 138) Of the professions, a surgeon was recorded in 1820 (fn. 139) and a solicitor was established in the town by 1856. The beech woods were exploited as material for gun-stocks, umbrellaand walking-sticks, and barrel-staves in the earlier 19th century, (fn. 140) and a number of timber-merchants lived in the parish. (fn. 141) Quarries were also worked in the 19th century. (fn. 142)
By 1839 a small non-chartered market was being held in the town on Saturdays, (fn. 143) giving the name to Market Street. It was little used by 1893 (fn. 144) but apparently survived until c. 1930. (fn. 145) In 1867 a cattle-market was started in a field on the east side of the town, and it continued there until 1892 when the difficulty of cleansing the site led to its removal to a new market-place on the south side of Spring Hill. (fn. 146) The cattle-market was discontinued c. 1931 and the site became a car park and bus station. (fn. 147)