Various recollections taken from the 1882 edition of Cheshire Notes and Queries.



[Note: Could the William Robinson (corn dealer) mentioned above be the same Robinson mentioned in the letter to the Manchester Observer in April 1819? I believe he was also a witness against Harrison in his trial .]






Note: Charles Bolsover was a Stockport Reformer whose name appears in a list of 14 committee members formed for the purpose of collecting a loan and subscription for the prisoners at Chester Castle.

The recollections of Stockport in 1805 by E.H. mentions the shape of the windmill as octagonal which is consistent with the print of Stockport below from 1810.



Stockport 1810

Could the large building with red roof behind the windmill be the famous Windmill Room where Rev Joseph Harrison held his lectures? The building shown to the left of it is the Stockport Sunday School whom the Reformers had many run-ins with and the grassy area below it could be part of Sandy Brow where the Reformers held their rallies.

The following is taken from The London Gazette, 1 Jan, 1799, Issue 15095, Page 19,20.

It mentions that there was a cotton factory (or warehouse), windmill and other buildings on the Edward Street site.

In my opinion the cotton factory a.k.a warehouse is what would later become known as the Windmill Room.



Harrison mentions the Windmill’s machinery in one of his letters to Bagguley. (dated June 1, 1819) The full letter can be found under the Peterloo Era menu.
“…I suppose you have heard enough of our agitation relative to joining the Union almost all operations have been suspended since the assizes on that account but the new machinery was put into the mill last night, the sail cloths are again spread – the wind blows steadily from the west, and the work seems likely to go on pleasantly. The scribbling part of the machinery has not been replaced by new and as the old treasury box is not impaired by use it is associated with the new machinery you may expect to hear no more of discords and divisions for I hope the union friends will be steady to their post and let us alone and that we shall endeavour to give no offence to any one…”
Harrison speaks figuratively in his letter using the Windmill to describe the tensions with the Stockport Union. I didn’t know what scribbling meant so I looked it up. It’s a piece of machinery used to open and mix the cotton fibres. So the windmill was multi-purpose a bit like a Swiss army knife. Not only was it used to grind grain but it was also used in the cotton manufacturing process.

John Lloyd, the magistrates clerk mentions that the Windmill Rooms were once used for the manufacture of cotton.

“…It seems he afterwards hired some rooms, formerly used as a factory for spinning cotton, called the Windmill Rooms which had just been evacuated by the most ignorant and infatuated of all sectaries, or parties, the followers of Johanna Southcote the believers in Shilo. The maniac died without bringing forth a Shilo, the bubble burst and the millennium was to be sought elsewhere than in Jerusalem. This was a favourable opportunity to Parson Harrison. He sprang up the new prophet, rallied the silly fanatics, converted them to his faith which was in things of this world not as they are but equally divided with those who wished it.”  TS 11/48.

The following is taken from the book “The Industrial Archaeology of Stockport”, Owen Ashmore, 1975.
“Windmills are more commonly associated with West Lancashire and the Wirral area of Cheshire than with the Manchester region, but there were at least two in Stockport, one on Lancashire Hill near the canal terminus, the other in Edward Street near the present Town Hall. A look at the sites shows that both were in prominent positions to take advantage of the prevailing winds, and indeed both were badly damaged in an exceptionally fierce gale in 1822, losing one or more sails….The Edward Street Mill was on the site of the present Hollingdrakes’ works and was taken down in 1857…”