Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 150,171 pages of information and 235,402 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.

Wellington Mills (Leeds)

From Graces Guide

of Mill Green, Wortley, Leeds

1828 Francis Sowry, Mill Green, Wortley listed as 'woollen cloth manufacturers'.[1]

1842 'WELLINGTON MILL, MILL-GREEN, WORTLEY. ROOM AND POWER TO LET, THREE ROOMS, 75 Feet by 28 Feet, with SHAFTING and GEARING, and from 12 to 15 Horse Power, wrought by a New and Complete Engine, made by Messrs J. & S. Whittams [probably S. and J. Whitham ], of Kirkstall. The rooms are very well lighted, and in a Populous Neighbourhood, where Hands can easily be got. The Premises are suitable for any Manufacturing Purposes, and where other Conveniences can made to suit a Tenant at a reasonable Rent. For Particulars inquire of Wm. Best, the Engineer, on the Premises, or of Francis Sowry, the Owner, near the Spot.' [2]

About six o'clock yesterday morning, a boiler at the works of Messrs. S. E. Seanor and Co., hackle and gill pin manufacturers, Wellington Mills, New Wortley, near Leeds, exploded, thereby causing great destruction to property, and injuring two men named John Hyde and John Fleming. Hyde was employed on the premises as engine-man, and he had just been firing up and was proceeding. to the engine-house to turn on the machinery when the boiler exploded, and he was partially buried amongst the ruins. Over the boiler-house was a dryhouse and a large iron water tank, and between these and the main building, which is four storeys in height, and from twenty to thirty yards in length was a shed with a glazed roof, about three yards in breadth and twelve yards in length, the whole of which were razed to the ground. The boiler was torn up from its bed, and while the flues were upheaved and completely overturned, the outer plates were riven asunder and thrown a distance of at least a dozen yards into Mill-lane. The boiler-house was at the base of an octagonal chimney, from thirty to forty yards in height, and it was as otherwise, the disaster might have been much greater. Fleming, who is in the service of Messrs. Robinson, corn millers, who occupy the adjoining premises, and are the owners of the whole of the property, was struck down by the falling bricks, but neither he nor Hyde were dangerously hurt, and after having their wounds - which were about their hands - dressed at the Infirmary, they were able to be removed to their homes. Two fine large black-retriever dogs were on the spot at the time, and one had its head blown off, while the other was discovered some hours afterwards unscathed, having crawled into the flues of the adjacent boiler, which was unused. The windows of the main building were completely riddled by the explosion, as also were those of a cottage opposite, the residence of one of the Mr. Robinsons. By the disaster about fifty workpeople are thrown out of employment. The iron plates, which were originally nearly half-an-inch thick, were very much worn, in some places being barelv the thickness of a sixpence, and there are evidences of a leakage having taken place. The boiler underwent repairs four years ago, previous to the occupation of Messrs. Seanor, who have only been tenants for about two years. The damage is not covered by insurance. During the day large crowds of people visited the scene of destruction, which was in charge of the police under Sergeant Merritt.

The following description of the boiler has been furnished by a gentleman whose technical knowledge has enabled him to write with some authority on the subject:- " The boiler which exploded is 22 feet long by 7 feet 3 inches diameter, with two flues each 2 feet 8 inches diameter. The shell was made in eight rings of plates 3/8 inch thick, and the flues in nine rings of plates, also about 3/8 inch thick, but too much encrusted to allow of accurate measurement. The boiler was apparently set upon one midfeather wall, with a wheel draft in the ordinary way. It does not appear to have been short of water, as far as can be ascertained from the plates, indeed there was a slight discolouration in the glass of the water gauge, which would lead one to suppose that the water stood about 4½ in. in the glass at the time of the explosion. The effect of the explosion has been to lift the boiler entirely from its seat, and to turn it completely over end for end, leaving it lying several feet higher than its original bed. Nearly the whole of the shell has been torn away from the ends, unrolled into a comparatively flat form, and carried twice its own length into the adjoining street. The flues and ends are uninjured, and remain attached to each other. There were a number of l¼ inch square wrought iron stays in various parts of the boiler, some from the ends to the flues, some from the ends to the shell, and others extending from one side of the shell to the other, with what object is not apparent; these stays are for the most part torn away at one end, and remain attached by the other to various parts of the boiler and flues. The cause of the explosion is only too apparent - namely, weakening of the plates by secret corrosion-for nearly the whole length of the boiler, that is to say, for about twenty feet of it, just where it rested upon the brickwork below, water from leakages has collected for years past, extensive corrosion has gone on, and the plates have been reduced to the thickness of a piece of brown paper. It is evident that the rupture began at one end of this longitudinal weakness, thus lifting one end of the boiler first, and turning it over end for end as before described. As the rupture ran along the bottom of the boiler it extended also round the circumference at the ends, and it is probable that just as the boiler in its flight was in a vertical position, the shell became completely detached, and were projected into the street. The amount of damage to life and property is surprisingly small for so large an explosion, and can only be attributed to the fact of the excessive weakness of the boiler offering but feeble resistance to the escape of its contents." '[3]

1874 Woollen machinery offered for sale at the mill, 're Bottomley and Broadbent - in liquidation'.[4]

1901 Wellington Mills, Mill Green, New Wortley, offered for sale with or without machinery, by B. L. H. Robinson. [5]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Pigot and Co.'s National Commercial Directory for 1828-9
  2. Leeds Intelligencer, 25 June 1842
  3. Leeds Mercury, 31 December 1867
  4. Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 13 May 1874
  5. Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 21 December 1901