Mill town

A mill town, also known as factory town or mill village, is typically a settlement that developed around one or more mills or factories, usually cotton mills or factories producing textiles.



Crespi d'Adda (Italy)


Żyrardów – winter panorama of main square


The town grew out of a textile factory founded in 1833 by the sons of Feliks Lubienski, who owned the land where it was built. They brought in a specialist from France and his newly designed machines. He was French inventor, Philippe de Girard from Lourmarin. He became a director of the firm.[5] The factory town developed during the 19th century into a significant textile mill town in Poland. In honour of Girard, 'Ruda Guzowska' as the original estate was called, was renamed Żyrardów, a toponym derived of the polonised spelling of Girard's name.

Most of Żyrardów's monuments are located in the manufacturing area which dates from the 19th and early 20th centuries. It is widely believed that Żyrardów's textile settlement is the only entire urban industrial complex from the 19th-century to be preserved in Europe.

Russian Empire

United Kingdom

East Mill in Derbyshire, UK

In the United Kingdom, the term "mill town" usually refers to the 19th century textile manufacturing towns of northern England and the Scottish Lowlands, particularly those in Lancashire (cotton) and Yorkshire (wool).

Some former mill towns have a symbol of the textile industry in their town badge. Some towns may have statues dedicated to textile workers (e.g. Colne[6]) or have a symbol in the badge of local schools (e.g. Ossett School).

Cheshire mill towns

Congleton, Crewe, Macclesfield

Derbyshire mill towns

Glossop, Hadfield, New Mills

Greater Manchester mill towns

Ashton-under-Lyne, Bolton, Bury, Chadderton, Failsworth, Heywood, Hyde, Lees, Leigh, Manchester, Middleton, Oldham, Radcliffe, Ramsbottom, Reddish, Rochdale, Royton, Shaw and Crompton, Stalybridge, Stockport, Wigan

Lancashire mill towns

Accrington, Bacup, Barnoldswick, Blackburn, Burnley, Calder Vale, Chorley, Colne, Darwen, Nelson, Oakenclough, Padiham, Preston for others see table below.

Yorkshire mill towns

Batley, Bingley, Bradford, Brighouse, Cleckheaton, Dewsbury, Elland, Halifax, Hebden Bridge, Heckmondwike, Holmfirth, Huddersfield, Keighley, Morley, Mytholmroyd, Ossett, Pudsey, Shipley, Skipton, Sowerby Bridge, Todmorden, Yeadon

The list above includes some towns where textiles was not the predominant industry. For example, mining was a key industry in Wigan and Leigh in Greater Manchester, and in Ossett in Yorkshire.

Spindleage of some large mill towns in and around Greater Manchester[notes 1] between 1830 and 1962
In thousands of spindles.[7]

On his tour of northern England in 1849, Scottish publisher Angus Reach said:

In general, these towns wear a monotonous sameness of aspect, physical and moral... In fact, the social condition of the different town populations is almost as much alike as the material appearance of the tall chimneys under which they live. Here and there the height of the latter may differ by a few rounds of brick, but in all essential respects, a description of one is a description of all.[8]

— Angus Reach, Morning Chronicle, 1849

North America

United States

New England and Northeast

Peabody, Massachusetts A. C. Lawrence Leather Co. a factory town circa 1910.[9][10]

Beginning with Samuel Slater and technological information smuggled out of England by Francis Cabot Lowell, large mills were established in New England in the early to mid 19th century. Mill towns, sometimes planned, built and owned as a company town, grew in the shadow of the industries. The region became a manufacturing powerhouse along rivers like the Housatonic, Quinebaug, Shetucket, Blackstone, Merrimack, Nashua, Cocheco, Saco, Androscoggin, Kennebec or Winooski.

In the 20th century, alternatives to water power were developed, and it became more profitable for companies to manufacture textiles in southern states where cotton was grown and winters did not require significant heating costs. Finally, the Great Depression acted as a catalyst that sent several struggling New England firms into bankruptcy.

Connecticut mill towns

Bridgeport, Danbury, East Windsor, Enfield, Hartford, Killingly, Manchester, Middletown, Naugatuck, New Haven, New London, Norwich, Putnam, Seymour, Shelton, Torrington, Vernon, Waterbury, Willimantic, Winchester, Windham, Windsor Locks

Maine mill towns

Anson, Auburn, Baileyville, Biddeford, Brunswick, Chisholm, Corinna, Lewiston, Lincoln, Lisbon Falls, Livermore Falls, Millinocket, Milo, Newport, Old Town, Orono, Pittsfield, Rumford, Saco, Sanford, Skowhegan, Waterville, Westbrook, Wilton

Massachusetts mill towns

Adams, Amesbury, Athol, Attleboro, Chicopee, Clinton, Dalton, Fall River, Fitchburg, Framingham, Gardner, Grafton, Greenfield, Haverhill, Holyoke, Hudson, Lawrence, Lowell, Ludlow, Lynn, Maynard, Merrimac, Methuen, Milford, Millbury, Monson, New Bedford, North Adams, North Andover, Northbridge, Orange, Pittsfield, Russell, Southbridge, Springfield, Taunton, Uxbridge, Waltham, Ware, Webster, Winchendon, Worcester

New Hampshire mill towns

Belmont, Berlin, Claremont, Dover, East Rochester, Franklin, Gonic, Gorham, Greenville, Groveton, Harrisville, Jaffrey, Keene, Laconia, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lincoln, Manchester, Milford, Milton, Nashua, Newmarket, Newport, Penacook, Pittsfield, Rochester, Rollinsford, Somersworth, Suncook, Tilton, Troy, Wilton

New Jersey mill towns

Allaire, Allentown, Boonton, Chester, Clinton, Cranbury, Cranford, Dover, Freehold, Frenchtown, Galloway, Griggstown, Helmetta, Imlaystown, Jamesburg, Kingston, Little Falls, Manalapan, Milltown, Millville, Paterson, Prallsville, Roselle Park, South Brunswick, Tinton Falls, Wharton

New York mill towns

Amsterdam, Clinton, Corning, Marlboro, Mechanicville, New York Mills, Troy, Schenectady, Rochester, Philmont

Rhode Island mill towns

Bristol, Burrillville, Central Falls, Coventry, Cumberland, Lincoln, Pawtucket, Providence, Slatersville, Valley Falls, West Warwick, Westerly, Woonsocket

Vermont mill towns

Bellows Falls, Bethel, Brattleboro, Bridgewater, Burlington, Ludlow, Newport, Springfield, Vergennes, Winooski


Alabama mill towns

Fairfax (Fairfax Mill and Fair View Mill), Lanett (Lanett Mill), Langdale (Langdale Mill), Sylacauga (Avondale Mill), Opelika (Opelika Mill), River View (Riverdale Mill), Shawmut (Shawmut Mill), Valley (Carter/Lanier Mill)

Arkansas mill towns

Amity, Beirne, Calion, Crossett, Delight, Glenwood, Jones Mill, Malvern, Mountain Pine

Georgia mill towns

Bibb City, Cabbagetown, Chicopee, Hogansville, New Holland, New Manchester

Maryland mill towns

Ellicott City, Jerusalem, Oella, Owings Mills, Savage

North Carolina mill towns

Alamance, Altamahaw, Bellemont, Burlington, Bynum, Canton, Carolina, Carrboro, Cliffside, Coleridge, Concord, Cooleemee, Cramerton, Drexel, Eden, Edgemont (East Durham), Enka, Falls, Franklinville, Glen Raven, Glencoe, Hanes, Haw River, High Falls, High Shoals, Hildebran, Hope Mills, Kannapolis, Long Shoals, Mayodan, McAdenville, Mooresville, Mount Holly, Oakdale, Rhodhiss, Riegelwood, Roanoke Rapids, Sawmills, Saxapahaw, Spencer Mountain, Swepsonville, West Durham, West Hillsborough

South Carolina mill towns

Cateechee, Central, Cherokee Falls, Columbia (Olympia and Granby Mills), Fort Mill, Graniteville, Great Falls, Inman, Joanna, La France, Lockhart, Lyman, Newry, Pacolet Mills, Pelzer, Piedmont, Slater, Startex, Ware Shoals, Watts Mills, Whitmire

Sawmill towns

IllinoisCarrier Mills, Harrisburg
WisconsinEau Claire

South America


See also


  1. ^ Sourced from a book entitled Cotton Mills of Greater Manchester, although not all of these towns are within Greater Manchester.


  1. ^ "Crespi D'Adda UNESCO – Sito ufficiale" (in Italian). Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  2. ^ "Associazione Amici della Scuola del Villaggio Leumann" (in Italian). Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  3. ^ "Abitare a Saronno tra '800 e '900" (PDF) (in Italian). Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  4. ^ "Villaggio operaio della Filatura" (in Italian). Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  5. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Girard, Philippe Henri de". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  6. ^ "Steel statue tribute of mill girl". BBC. 24 July 2018.
  7. ^ Williams, Mike; Farnie (1992). Cotton Mills of Greater Manchester. Carnegie Publishing. ISBN 0-9487898-9-1.
  8. ^ Powell, Rob (1986). In the Wake of King Cotton. Rochdale Art Gallery. p. 12.
  9. ^ WRITER, ALAN BURKE STAFF. "Leather goes to War at Peabody's Leather Museum".
  10. ^ "Peabody Institute Library : Online Collections".

External links

Museums and historic sites

Media files used on this page

Arlington Mills, Lawrence, MA.jpg
The Arlington Cotton Mills, Lawrence, MA; from a 1907 postcard.
East Mill, Belper, Derbyshire.jpg
Author/Creator: Eamon Curry from Derby, England, Licence: CC BY 2.0
Example of a mill in "mill towns", aka factory towns usually with textile manufacturing
Zyrardow panorama01.jpg
Author/Creator: Tomasz Kuran, Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Panorama (~130°) of John Paul II Square in Żyrardów, Poland. Photos were taken, when temperature was from -20 to -30°C.
Crespi panorama.jpg
Author/Creator: Luigi Chiesa, Licence: CC BY 3.0
Crespi d'Adda - Bergamo - Italy, view
Mill Street, Attleboro, MA.jpg
Grade crossing arch at Mill Street, showing part of new depots in Attleboro, MA; from a 1908 postcard.
Assawaga Mill, Dayville, CT.jpg
Assawaga Mill, Dayville, CT; from a 1909 postcard. Dayville is a village within Killingly, CT.
Berlin Panoramic.jpg
Author/Creator: unknown, Licence: Attribution
Merrimack Falls, Lawrence, MA.jpg
Merrimack Falls, Lawrence, MA; from a c. 1905 postcard.
Author/Creator: unknown, Licence: PD-US
Colchester Mills, Winooski, VT.jpg
Lower Falls & Colchester Mills, Winooski, VT; from a 1907 postcard.
Alice Mills Rubber Mfg. Plant.jpg
Alice Mills Rubber Mfg. Plant, Woonsocket, RI; from a 1911 postcard.

Simeon S. Cook, Lyman A. Cook and Joseph Banigan incorporated the Woonsocket Rubber Company in 1867. It began operations at Island Place near Market Square, and for a time, shared facilities with the Bailey Wringer Company. Eventually, the company occupied 1-½ acres at Island Place including the Falls Yarn Mills.

While the company initially made rollers for the Bailey Manufacturing Company, it later specialized in rubber shoes and boots. Joseph Banigan built machines and developed a process that allowed the Woonsocket Rubber Company to produce the finest rubber shoes and boots in the world. By 1876, the Woonsocket Rubber Company was producing 130 cases of footwear a day.

In 1889, the company built the Alice Mill on Fairmount Street. At the time of its construction, it was the largest rubber mill in the world and employed 1,500 people. Two stair towers project from an immense four story structure. Although utilitarian in purpose, the stair towers also provide visual relief to what would be a facade of overwhelming proportion. By 1890, the Woonsocket Rubber Company was the largest rubber importer in the United States.

In 1892, the Woonsocket Rubber Company was sold to the US Rubber Company, but continued to operate under it own name. The company prospered until the 1930's when the Alice mill was closed. It was reopened during the Second World War and remained open until the 1960's. The Alice Mill is currently occupied by Portola Tech Industries, manufacturer of plastic caps and jars for the cosmetic industry.
American Thread Co. Mill.jpg
American Thread Company, Mill No. 1, Willimantic, Connecticut
Noon Hour at Amoskeag Mills.jpg
Noon Hour, Amoskeag Mills, Manchester, NH; from a c. 1912 postcard.
Areal view of the Riegel Mill and the Community Center. Photo by Bill Shannon, 1950
Cumberland Mills, Westbrook, ME.jpg
Cumberland Mills, Westbrook, ME; from a c. 1902 postcard.
Hollingsworth & Whitney Paper Mills.jpg
Hollingsworth & Whitney Paper Mills, Winslow, ME; from a c. 1920 postcard.
Author/Creator: unknown, Licence: PD-US
Jackson Mills, Nashua, NH.jpg
Jackson Mills, Nashua, NH; from a 1907 postcard.
A. C. Lawrence Leather Co., Peabody, MA.jpg
A. C. Lawrence Leather Company, Peabody, MA; from a c. 1910 postcard.