Samuel Oldknow came to this district in 1787 and remained for over 40 years, until his death at the age of 72. During this time he changed the face of Marple beyond all recognition, being the chief architect and driving force in the development and industrialisation of the area. Along with his mill at Mellor he was responsible for the building of roads, bridges, coal mines and housing for his workers. He was also instrumental in the construction of the Peak Forest Canal. A monument to him, placed in the Church he built to replace the old Chapel that had become too small for the expanding community, gives a clear indication of his standing and influence.
Samuel Oldknow's family originated in Nottingham, where his grandfather had established a successful drapery business. Oldknow's father, also called Samuel, moved to Anderton in Lancashire to study as a textile manufacturer and became settled there when he married a local girl, Margaret Foster. Samuel Snr. died at the early age of 25. During a brief 5 years of marriage he and Margaret had three children.
Mellor Mill was crowned with a central triangular pediment containing a piece of oval stonework. The stone was carved with Oldknow's initials, a weavers shuttle and the year 1790. The stone now lies in Memorial Park, a small monument to Oldknow's achievements.
The main mill building was an imposing structure with a central section six storeys high, 42 feet wide and 210 feet long. At each end of this was a further three storey section bringing the total length to 400 feet.
In 1990 the Marple community celebrated the bicentennial of Samuel Oldknow's Mellor Mill with a 2 week long event. This record was filmed and produced by Tony Sheldon and Denise Ambery. At the time only 25 copies of the VHS video were made, with one copy in Marple Library.
The Marple Website's on-line premier of this wonderful look back at Marple's History is likely to be the first time that many folk have seen it.
For over 20 years you've been able to read Oldknow's Story and the history of his Mellor Mill and Estate on the Marple Website. However, in April 2020 sensational CGI film of the fire at the mill came to light from the archives of the Mellor Archaeological Trust.
You can now watch it on The Marple Website for the very first time!
If you'd walked the hills of Mellor 200 years ago and followed the line of Marple's brand new Peak Forest Canal with your eye, you'd have been amazed to discover an ancient medieval castle with tall chimneys churning out great clouds of smoke into the sky. The area would have been a hive of industry, with people scurrying to and fro, canal barges loading and offloading, horse drawn carts arriving and departing from covered despatch buildings and wagons on rails being pulled by mules.
The free-standing tower in the grounds of All Saints' churchyard was once part of a Georgian Chapel, built to replace an earlier 16th century black and white timber-framed chapel that had blown down during a gale in 1804. Plans had been in place as early as 1803 to replace the old building, which was in a ruinous and dangerous condition, although work didn't start until 1808.