Old cowshed gave birth to a national treasure
YOU might be surprised to learn that an old cow shed in Bolton would become one of the hotbeds in British industrial history.
But Hall i’ th’ Wood Museum in Bolton, which officially opened as a textile museum in 1902, was once just that.
Its biggest attraction is a working model the spinning mule machine, invited by Samuel Crompton in the 18th century.
Visitors can also view the roofspace of the museum, where Mr Crompton carried out his work in secret.
Hall i’ th’ Wood dates back to as early as 1483, although it was developed into a manor house between 1591 and 1648.
During the mid-17th century, the hall was given a grand Jacobean extension when a family of wealthy yeoman and merchants lived there.
Mr Crompton, an English inventor, created the spinning mule machine in 1779.
He worked above the porch at Hall i’th’ Wood in a small study that he called the “conjuring room”.
His solution was to create a machine that would simulate the motions of a hand spinner’s fingers.
However, he was initially unable to gain any financial reward for his invention.
Although Mr Crompton displayed his machine to council members at the Exchange in Manchester, few were impressed by it and refused to pay.
Howver, this was not the end of the spinning mule’s legacy.
In 1811, Mr Crompton found that around 700,000 people depended on mule-spun yarn for their livelihood.
He took his claim to Parliament in 1812 and was awarded £5,000 in compensation.
Another household name to live at Hall i’ th’ Wood was Lord Leverhulme, who purchased the manor in 1899.
He renovated the property and presented it to Bolton Corporation in 1902. He had a brief spell in politics as Liberal MP for the Wirral and was Mayor of Bolton from 1918-19 and was made Lord Leverhulme.
He died in 1925 by which time the Lever Brothers controlled a multinational commercial empire.
Nowadays, the museum is a memorial to Samuel Crompton and his contribution to Bolton’s textile industry.
The rooms have been accurately refurbished, with the Lancashire kitchen, cosy Brownlow bedroom, fine oak panelling and ornate plasterwork recreating the house’s fascinating past.
An episode of television programme Most Haunted was filmed at the hall in 2008.
Various events and activities take place throughout the year, catering for people of all interests and ages.
A textiles treasure exhibition runs from Saturday June 29 until Sunday November 3.
Opening times are 10am to 3pm on Tuesdays and noon to 4pm on Saturdays.
Admission to Hall i’ th’ Wood Museum is free.
Call 01204 332377 to arrange a visit.
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