Events at Lee Mills, Halifax

The Morning Post [8th October 1853]

Destructive Fire at Lee Bridge, Halifax [4th October 1853]

One of the most terrific and destructive fires that has ever occurred in Yorkshire took place on Tuesday evening. The fire at Lee Mills, Halifax, the property of Messrs Robert Whitworth & Company, on the Halifax and Keighley road were of considerable magnitude.

The mill was six storeys high including the garrett, and the warehouses were five storeys high. The fire was discovered at about 7 o'clock on the fourth storey of the new mill.

After the alarm was given, an effort was immediately made to bring into use several portable fire engines which were on the premises, but as the hose belonging to them could not be found, the engines were quite useless. A gentleman riding on horseback hastened rapidly to the Town Hall for assistance.

Two engines, the Leeds and Yorkshire and the Halifax, Bradford and Keighley were soon dispatched to the spot and arrived just before 8 o'clock. The new mill (which is a small addition to the old one) was in a terrific blaze and a telegraph was sent for additional machines from Bradford, Wakefield and Huddersfield.

Men of all ranks and conditions were employed in every kind of office. The Mayor (Samuel Waterhouse Esq.) was busy amongst the throng and amongst the rest were Mr John Crossley, Mr John Abbott, Mr F. Crossley MP. Mr Alderman Appleyard, Mr John Bold, &c. Some were carrying water, some pumping and some conveying goods to safety.

The Chief Constable ordered a clear passage from the premises to the premises of Messrs John Dennison & Son, and along this lane a continuous stream of persons passed to and fro bearing property of all kinds – pieces, yarns, wool, &c. This work continued for hours with unabated vigour.

The fire was pursuing its destruction course and two engines were of no avail. At about 10 o'clock, three engines arrived from Bradford, They dashed to the lurid scene with great velocity, each drawn by four post horses.

The mills and the warehouses were by this time destroyed. The roofs and walls had collapsed and the warehouse was wrapped in a vast sheet of flame which lighted up the hills and valleys for many miles with terrible grandeur.

The town seemed deserted. Most inhabitants and many from the surrounding area were at the scene. It is computed that some 20,000 to 30,000 persons had assembled, the hills surrounding the scene forming a sort of amphitheatre for spectators.

It has been estimated that the loss cannot be less than £50,000 to £60,000. The buildings are not insured.

The offices in which insurance was effected on stock and machinery were Halifax, Bradford, Keighley, the Leeds & Yorks, the West of England, the Atlas and the Globe.

Nothing is known as to the origin of the fire. It is estimated that a great number of people (it is stated 1,400)  are thrown out of work and their disaster is rendered more severe by the prospect of diminished work everywhere and dear food


Another report said

The fire broke out on the 5th storey of the mill, and was believed to have been caused by the spontaneous combustion of a quantity of waste

The ldsm [14th October 1871]

Sale by Auction on Wednesday 25th October 1871. Lee Bridge Mills, Halifax.

On instructions received from the Trustee acting in the estate of Messrs John Dennison & Sons, Woollen Manufacturers, West Mount and Lee Bridge Mills. - Woollen Machinery and Effects


The ldsm [14th October 1871]

Sale by Auction on Friday, 27th October 1871. Lee Bridge Mills, Halifax.

On instructions received from the Trustee acting in the estate of Messrs John Dennison & Sons, Woollen Manufacturers, West Mount and Lee Bridge Mills – Large and Valuable Stock of Pieces, Wool and Shoddy


The bfdt [24th December 1897]

Great Mill Fire at Halifax Mill

A destructive fire occurred last night at Lee Bridge Mills, Halifax, occupied by Mr James Booth, Manufacturer of knitted fabrics and serges.

The premises were five storeys high and 22 windows long. The outbreak was on the top storey. Practically the whole of the buildings are owned by Messrs John Crossley & Sons Limited. The buildings on the right bank of the Hebble Brook are occupied by Mr James Booth.

PC Ramsden discovered the fire, and, going towards Lee Bridge. he met Tom Greenwood the watchman rushing out with the alarm. PC Ramsden promptly dispatched a messenger to the Town Hall and soon the Corporation Fire Brigade with their powerful engine, were on their way. It was a murky and frosty night and the water was soon frozen.

The fire started at about 8.05 o'clock but was not overpowered until about midnight.

Damage roughly estimated at £25,000 to £30,000


© Malcolm Bull 2023
Revised 18:14 / 8th March 2023 / 8385

Page Ref: X531

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