Overview of the Site
There is written evidence of a water powered corn mill at Hopwood in 1570 although, as the estate was in existence as early as 1307, some earlier archaeology may exist. The present mill ruins and pond are located in private woodland about 300M northwest of the grade 2 listed Hopwood Hall.
The last mill structure ceased operation in the 1870’s but was preserved by the Hopwood family as a picturesque garden feature together with a Chinese style waterfall on the east side of the mill pond. There were over 25 manorial corn mills in existence in Rochdale and Middleton during the 17th century most of which were converted to fulling and cotton manufacture during the 18th and 19th century. The early preservation by the Hopwood’s ensured that the remains of the corn mill and pond survived and is possibly the best example in Greater Manchester.
The structure of the mill building gradually deteriorated in the 20th century and was partially demolished for safety reasons in the 1940’s. In the 1970’s and 80’s there was some preservation activity by the De La Salle College who owned Hopwood and the adjacent training college. By the 1990’s, the estate had been sold to Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council (RMBC) who began developing the Hopwood Hall College. Greater Manchester Archaeological Unit (GMAU) carried out a full excavation of the mill in 1993. This was as part of a scheme to develop Hopwood woods into a country park. The mill and pond would have been conserved as a major landscape feature in this park.
Unfortunately, the country park scheme never went ahead and mill and remaining timbers were left exposed to nature and vandalism. The Mersey Basin Trust attempted some reconstruction of the mill walls, however the work was never finished and it is reported that quantities of stone have since disappeared from the site.
Historic Photographs (copyright of Middleton Library)