Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Overton Mill (Co. Cork)

From Graces Guide

at Overton, near Bandon, Ireland

Established by George Allman

Five storey cotton mill, now in ruins

An historically important relic survives in the ruins of the mill: the axle of a 40 ft diameter waterwheel installed by Thomas Hewes c.1802. It is the earliest known example of a suspension waterwheel (bicycle-type wheel, with the power taken from gear teeth at the rim). The hubs of the surviving cast iron axle clearly show that each hub carried spokes projecting normal to the axis and also at an angle. The angled spokes would confer transverse stiffness to the assembly, and in any case would be necessary for adjustment to get the wheel running true. A photograph of the axle in situ, together with an excellent account of Hewes' involvement and the significance of the installation, may be found in 'Technological Innovation in the Early 19th Century Irish Cotton Industry' by Colin Rynne[1]. For more discussion of the wheel and its historical context, see Thomas Hewes.

1824 Statement from Thomas Hewes: 'I built a mill at Bandon, fifteen miles from Cork, in 1802: I added to that about eight years afterwards, and I filled it with machinery; and within these seven or eight months, Mr. Allman the proprietor of it, wrote to me to say, that this machinery was going on very well, and he wished to extend it again; and he wrote an order for a quantity of parts of machinery, and I was obliged to decline that order; for those are parts that we cannot procure ourselves; rollers and spindles and some other work.'
'You declined solely, from your not being able to supply from the pressure of business?' - 'Only from that motive;for I would as leave supply Mr. Allman as any man whatever.'[2]

1829 'CAPITAL INVESTMENT IN IRELAND. TO BE SOLD, the Valuable COTTON MILLS, situated near Bandon, in the county of Cork, furnished with copious Mill Stream and extensive Reservoirs. These mills are at present working 8420 mule and throstle spindles, and by small outlay are capable of working as many more in an adjoining factory, lately erected for that purpose. To any person desirous of employing capital in Ireland, these mills present peculiar advantages, lying in the centre of most extensive manufacturing district, which affords a rapid consumption for the yarns. —If an eligible partner possessed of adequate capital offered, the proprietor would have no objection to treat with him for a share in the concern. Further particulars may be had on application to the Proprietor, George Allman, Bandon, by letter post paid, or otherwise.'[3]

'Several spirited attempts were subsequently made by Messrs. George Allman, Richard Wheeler, and James Scott, to introduce the cotton trade. The first-named gentleman erected extensive concerns for that purpose, being one hundred and thirty-four feet in length, thirty-four in width, and fifty in height. They contained five floors, all underlaid with sheet-iron. They also contained ten thousand spinning spindles, with all the necessary machinery for turning out three thousand pounds' weight per week of manufactured cotton. We are unable to say whether it was owing to the distance to which the raw material, when landed, was obliged to be carted inland, and, when manufactured, carted back again for shipment, or to what other cause ; but certain it is, that this attempt soon languished and died out, and the large premises, after being idle for a number of years, were eventually hired out as an auxiliary workhouse.'[4]


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. [1] Online extract from 'Technological Innovation in the Early 19th Century Irish Cotton Industry' by Colin Rynne, from 'Industrial Archaeology: Future Directions' Edited by Eleanor Casella and James Symonds, Springer Inc
  2. Parliamentary Papers, House of Commons: 'Artizans and Machinery: Six Reports of Minutes of Evidence: Session 3 February - 25 June 1824 Vol. V.' Questioning of Thomas Cheek Herves
  3. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 6 June 1829
  4. 'The History of Bandon' by George Bennett; Henry & Coghlan, 1862