Mill town

For places called Milltown, see Milltown.
"Mill village" redirects here. For other uses, see Mill Village.

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.

United Kingdom

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 ) or have a symbol in the badge of local schools (e.g. Ossett School).

County Towns
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 below 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 Lancashire mill towns producing spun cotton between 1830 and 1962


In thousands of spindles. [1]

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.[2]
Angus Reach, Morning Chronicle, 1849

United States

New England

Beginning with 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.

Peabody, Massachusetts A. C. Lawrence Leather Co. a factory town circa 1910...
State Towns
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, 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

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


State Towns
Maryland mill towns

Ellicott City, Jerusalem, Oella, Owings Mills, Savage

Laurel Mill (Laurel Factory) New Jersey mill towns

Clinton, Millville


State Towns
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, Delight, Glenwood, Malvern, Mountain Pine

Georgia mill towns

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

North Carolina mill towns

Alamance, Bellemont, Burlington, Bynum, Canton, Carolina, Carrboro, Cliffside, Concord, Cooleemee, Drexel, Edgemont (East Durham), Enka, North Carolina, Falls, Glen Raven, Glencoe, Hanes, Haw River, High Shoals, Hildebran, Kannapolis, Long Shoals, McAdenville, Mooresville, Mount Holly, North Carolina, 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, Joanna, La France, Lockhart, Lyman, Newry, Pacolet Mills, Pelzer, Piedmont, Slater, Ware Shoals, Watts Mills, Whitmire

Sawmill towns

State Towns
Illinois Carrier Mills, Harrisburg
Oregon Roseburg
Wisconsin Eau Claire
Model Mill Settlement, Chadwick Mills, Charlotte, N.C. Published circa 1905-1915
White Oak Cotton Mills, Greensboro, N.C. circa 1914
Aerial view of Ware Shoals Mill

South America


See also


    • Williams, Mike; Farnie (1992). Cotton Mills of Greater Manchester. Carnegie Publishing. ISBN 0-9487898-9-1
  1. Powell, Rob (1986). In the Wake of King Cotton. Rochdale Art Gallery. p. 12.

External links

Museums and historic sites

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