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There were 5 mills on Bisley manor in 1086. (fn. 75) Some of them were presumably on the Frome at Chalford, where 3 mills belonging to Minchinhampton manor were recorded c. 1170, (fn. 76) and some lower down the river in the later Stroud parish. There were some fulling-mills in Bisley and Stroud by 1360 when tithes from them were specified as part of the endowment of Bisley vicarage, (fn. 77) although only one fuller, listed under Througham, was recorded among the inhabitants of Bisley parish in 1381. (fn. 78) At least two of the Chalford mills were fulling-mills by the mid 15th century, and in the 1770s 8 were working there. (fn. 79) Several of the smaller mills of the parish were apparently never more than corn-mills but most of the 24 sites whose individual histories are traced below are known to have been used at some time in cloth production.
By the beginning of the 17th century the cloth industry was employing a large proportion of the inhabitants of Bisley, although it was not so dominant as in some of the smaller Stroud Valley parishes, because of the considerable scale of arable farming in the north of the parish. In 1608 a total of 62 people connected with the industry were listed, including 41 weavers, 18 tuckers, a dyer, a clothier, and a millwright, compared with 52 engaged in agriculture and 21 in other trades. (fn. 80) The later expansion of the industry was chiefly manifested in the growth of the villages in the south of the parish. In 1831 677 families in the parish were supported by trade compared with 288 supported by agriculture. (fn. 81)
During the earlier 19th century the Chalford region was severely hit by successive depressions in the cloth industry. In 1826, when a local committee was formed to distribute a grant from the London committee for the relief of manufacturing districts, it was said that 2,026 people were wholly unemployed in the parish (fn. 82) out of a population of 5,500-6,000. (fn. 83) In the late 1830s the Chalford area was once again severely affected as a result of the loss of the trade in 'stripe', the type of cloth which most of the local clothiers manufactured for the East India Company for its China market until the cessation of the company's trading activities in 1833. (fn. 84) In 1839 only 3 master clothiers out of 9 who had formerly operated in Chalford were still in business and, although some of the weavers at Oakridge found work with a Cirencester clothier, most of the inhabitants suffered severe poverty, much agravated by the prevalence of payment in 'truck'. (fn. 85) The situation was partly alleviated by emigration. In 1837 68 people, most of them members of weaving families, left for New South Wales financed by the parish, and in the same year 18 others left to work in the Yorkshire cloth industry and 66 went to Shrewsbury where they were taken on by a linen manufacturer. (fn. 86) In 1842 a further grant from the London relief committee was distributed in provisions and a programme of road improvements. (fn. 87) Few of the Chalford cloth-mills survived the depression but the manufacture of silk and walkingsticks to which most of them were adapted provided employment for large numbers in the later 19th century.
On the river Frome the highest mill adjoining Bisley parish was Henwood Mill at Tunley. The next three below belonged to Sapperton parish and then from Twissell's Mill, south of Oakridge Lynch, there was a succession of 13 or more sites, grouped most thickly at the west end of Chalford village where some were driven by the abundant springs which rise beside the river. Some of the Chalford mills were in Bisley parish and some in Minchinhampton but as they were all essentially part of the settlement of Chalford they are all treated here. St. Mary's Mill below Chalford is treated under Minchinhampton. The smaller streams of Bisley parish, in particular the Toadsmoor brook, where tradition locates the first fulling-mill ever built in the district, (fn. 88) also drove a few small mills.
This mentions Toadsmoor brook so it may be of interest to you also
There were several small mills on the Toadsmoor brook at the western boundary of the parish. They were usually regarded as part of Bisley rather than Stroud, although some of them were undoubtedly among the unnamed mills assigned to the Chamberlaynes and Windowes at the partition of the Stroud manor of Nether Lypiatt in 1689. (fn. 60) The highest mill on the brook, recorded in 1824 near the large pond in Toadsmoor woods, (fn. 61) was apparently the mill built on a piece of land called Wiselands, which was said to be in decay in 1801. (fn. 62)
Further down the brook a group of three mills, known collectively as Toadsmoor Mills, stood close together below the point where a track crossed from Bussage into Nether Lypiatt. (fn. 63) That crossing can probably be identified with one anciently called Row bridge, for a wood near by was named as Rowbridge wood in 1842. (fn. 64) The highest Toadsmoor mill (fn. 65) was presumably therefore the site of the house, fulling-mill, and grist-mill at Row bridge which William Snow held by copy from Bisley manor in 1608, (fn. 66) and the Snow's Mill at Toadsmoor which passed to William Hayward in 1690. (fn. 67) William Hayward was a clothier at Toadsmoor in 1715, (fn. 68) and in 1729 Hayward's Upper and Lower Mills were rated by Bisley parish. (fn. 69) The highest Toadsmoor mill was owned or occupied by a Mr. Jones in 1813, (fn. 70) perhaps Amos Jones who was listed as a woollen manufacturer at Bourne in 1820. (fn. 71) In 1842 it was owned and occupied by Aaron Evans. (fn. 72) It was probably the property called Toadsmoor Mills which William Dangerfield leased to Charles Freeman and Richard Davis, shoddy and mill-puff manufacturers of Bristol, in 1863; (fn. 73) Charles Freeman, flock manufacturer, and Woollaston & Co., mill-puff and shoddy manufacturers, were recorded at Toadsmoor in the 1870s. (fn. 74) By 1885 and until the 1930s William Selwyn was making flock and shoddy at the highest Toadsmoor mill, (fn. 75) which then comprised two mill buildings on the west side of the Bussage-Bourne road and another building, called Shortwood Mill, on the east side of the road. (fn. 76) Only the lower of the two on the west side, a two-storey range, survived in 1972 when it was occupied by a firm making aniline and gravure inks.
The middle mill at Toadsmoor was held by Obadiah Burge in 1813, (fn. 77) and in 1828 it belonged to Aaron Evans who perhaps worked it in connection with the mill above. By 1831 it belonged to Thomas Creed (fn. 78) who was trading as a corn-dealer and seedsman there in 1856. (fn. 79) Shortly before 1865 it was bought by the tenant William Davis who worked it as a corn-mill (fn. 80) until his death in 1884. (fn. 81) By 1885 the mill was powered by steam (fn. 82) but it went out of use in the early 20th century (fn. 83) and had been demolished by 1972.
The lowest Toadsmoor mill was held in 1813 by John Lock (fn. 84) who was a corn-miller in 1820. (fn. 85) By 1840 it belonged to Richard Kilmister (fn. 86) who leased it to a succession of millers. (fn. 87) By 1885, when it was steam-powered, it had been acquired by George Daniels (fn. 88) who worked it until c. 1920. (fn. 89) The small stone building, which incorporates a house and dates in part from the late 17th or early 18th century, survived in 1972.
A small mill called Cricketty Mill, south-west of Bisley village on the stream that flows down to join the Toadsmoor brook, (fn. 90) was recorded from 1825 when it was owned by Robert Owen and contained a pair of stones for grist-milling and one fullingstock. (fn. 91) In the following year it was being used by William Mills and Thomas Partridge, wood typecutters and printers' joiners. (fn. 92) In 1828 Owen sold the mill, which was described as newly erected, to his mortgagee, Lt.-Col. Henry Daubeny of Bath. (fn. 93) In 1842 it was owned by Charles Newman and leased to William Hazle, (fn. 94) who became the owner soon afterwards; (fn. 95) Hazle's son William worked a brewery and malt-house at the site until at least 1870. (fn. 96)
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