The Arnold Mill.

Mr. Robert Lowe, writing in 1794, says there were six Cotton Mills in Papplewick and Linby engaged in preparing cotton for thread for the making of stockings, and for the Manchester trade, and he mentions many other mills in the villages in the County, one of them being at Arnold. Cotton was gradually superseding thread; cotton and wool were being mixed, but the mill at Arnold was principally a worsted mill. It seems to have been a poor trade, with low wages and much child labour. Times were hard, and trade was bad. In France was an awful revolution, and war between England and France followed. All industries were disorganized, bread was exceedingly dear, riots were frequent, for the people were starving. In a printed report of a Lecture given by Mr. W. Stumbles in the Baptist Schoolroom in 1859 it is stated that the Mill was built about 1788, was first used for spinning worsted, and afterwards for cotton yarns. It stood above the lodge at the entrance to Arnot Hill grounds, and the row of houses opposite, known as Cottage Row, was occupied by the apprentices, of whom there were about six hundred, which with four hundred adults made up one thousand workpeople. "There was no Factory Act in those days, and the hands were accustomed to work night and day, and as the result there was great mortality among the apprentices. These were mostly obtained from Bristol and London, out of the workhouses, and their age when put to the mill would average about twelve years. The mortality was so great among them that sometimes as many as six or seven a week were buried at Arnold Church. This shameful waste of human life was thought to have resulted from overwork, neglect, and the overcrowded state of their lodging rooms."

Throsby, in 1792, after referring to the cotton mills "erected here on a large scale," adds "here is also a worsted mill that employs fifty children."

"In 1811 (Arnold Feast Week), the mill stopped, owing to the great depression in trade . . . . . . . arising from the decrees of the Emperor Napoleon against British commerce, and the tremendous price of provisions caused by the French War. The apprentices were handed over to the recruiting sergeant, and the proprietors of the mill received £5 for each one enlisted."

In 1812, the mill was described as being "so large that a tenant could not be found for it, and it is suffered to go to decay."

Under the head of Worsted Mills, Blackner in his "History of Nottingham," says ( p. 249):—

"In the year 1788 Mr. Robert Davison and Mr. John Hawkesley erected a worsted mill in this town, on the north bank of the Leen, where now stands Navigation Row. It was burnt down in 1791; and shortly afterwards these gentlemen erected another mill, on a very extensive scale, the works being driven by an engine of sixty horse power. The site of its erection was on a plot of ground contiguous to the east side of the road leading into Arnold from Nottingham, and which in the old writings belonging to the estate is called Arnot Hill. The death of Mr. Davison, and some heavy losses in 1809, added to the already encumbered state of the concern, caused the final stoppage of this manufactory, the materials of which, to the very foundation, were sold and taken away; and on the 5th of February, 1810, Mr. Hawksley laid the foundation of another mill which required an engine of twenty horse power, in Butcher Close, Nottingham, and he left the delightful habitation at Arnot Hill, surrounded with plantations, gardens, and hothouses, and removed with his family to Snenton."

"During the latter part of the summer (1793) the Corporation opened a subscription for the relief of the poor in the article of bread, which received very considerable support from a number of wealthy and humane inhabitants; but by none so much as by Messrs. Davison & Hawksley, of Arnold. They supplied an immense quantity of corn, considerably below the price they had given for it, for the use of their own workpeople. And what is very remarkable, when the corn was thus obtained to supply the poor with bread, which they could not otherwise obtain for money, there was neither wind nor water to grind it. These two worthy gentlemen remedied this misfortune in the operations of nature, which, coupled with the machinations of man, threatened the most alarming consequences at this momentous crisis, for they ground the corn in their own mill (which was turned by the machinery of their worsted mill), and sent the flour in their own waggons to Nottingham, free of all expenses, which was sold at a reduced price by the Corporate servants at the Malt Cross to the eager multitude, and thus the horrors of a famine were expelled. These two gentlemen likewise took the batches of corn of those who could raise them from this town of Arnold, and ground them, and brought them back free of expense, so long as applicants could be found. For these benevolent and humane acts they received a tribute from thousands of hearts overflowing with the most grateful sensations; and Mr. Hawksley was presented with the Freedom of the Town."

Mr. Davison lost his fortune in the concern, and his sons therefore threw their energies into the profession of medical students, Samuel setting up as a surgeon in Arnold, where he was succeeded by Mr. Wright Allen, he removing to Carlton, where he lived nearly sixty years. Of his daughters, one married Mr. (afterwards Sir) John Robinson, and another married Dr. Elder, formerly of Red Hill Lodge. Dr. John Davison was the first Physician of the Nottingham General Hospital.

Of the Hawksley family Mr. Thomas Hawksley, the famous engineer, was born at Arnot Hill House.

Of the assistants to the business see accounts of Mr. Huddleston and the Rev. George Wall.
The workpeople and neighbours must have been greatly grieved and annoyed at the pulling down and breaking up of the mill, leaving only the lake as a memento, and for two generations afterwards they always spoke of what is now called Nottingham Road as "the Folly," and the Infant School was spoken of as "the School in the Folly," or "the Folly School."

Arnold tokens.

Arnold tokens (reverse on left, obverse on right).Arnold tokens (reverse on left, obverse on right).

Although many tradesmen's tokens were issued in Nottingham in the 17th century, none are known to have been issued at Arnold, and it is only late in the 18th century any are found to have been struck here, and these are not only very interesting but extremely fine and rare. They were issued by the firm of Messrs. Robert Davison and John Hawksley, of Arnold. Both belonged to old Nottingham families; they were important business men and well-known philanthropists, Mr. Hawksley being presented with the freedom of the town of Nottingham.

The Hawksleys were Maltsters, the Davisons, Hosiery Manufacturers. Mr. Davison gave up the hosiery business and joined Mr. Hawksley in building a factory near Leen Side, Nottingham, for worsted spinning. This factory was burned down in January, 1791. They at once commenced building new works at Arnold. These works were running before the end of the year. They were situated near the site of Arnot Hill House, in which Mr. Hawksley lived. They did not prove a success, and the machinery was sold and the factory demolished.
Mr. Hawksley died in 1815, and Mr. Davison in 1807.

The issuing of these tokens of such high value in copper wherewith to pay their workpeople was exceptional.
It is strange that, although they issued these tokens in Arnold, the writer knowe of no issue from the Nottingham works. They were of the value of 5s., 2s. 6d., 1s., and 6d. The reading on the four tokens is identical with the exception of their respective monetary values, and all are of copper. The writer has some of them plated in silver and gilt. The crowns and half-crowns are the most rare of all the Nottinghamshire tokens of this period. The shillings and sixpences are not uncommon.


Davison and Hawksley, and fleece suspended from a tree.


The Roman Fasces with the axe, spear, and a cap of liberty in saltire, Arnold works. A crown 1791.

From a newspaper cutting supplied by Mr. Oscroft it appears that at a Sotheby's sale four Davison and Hawksley tokens realized £42.

Arnold in 1770.

In 1770, Arthur Young, the agricultural writer, when at Arnold, noticed some uncommon improvements lately carried out, particularly in the carrot culture. The land was let at 18/- an acre, whereas the ordinary rent in England at the time was 10/-. 1,045 strike of carrots (45 lbs. to the strike) for an acre, at 9d., produced £39 3s. 0d., less expenses £89s. 0d. Profit £3014s. 0d. Turnips usually followed the carrots, and then barley, which in the double-hold land produced great crops of 6 to 10 quarters to the acre. Labourers wages were 1/- a day in winter, and 1/- with board in addition in harvest time, and in hay time 10d. a day and board. Prices of provisions were:—oat cake bread, 14 lbs. for 11d.; cheese, 4d.; Butter, 6d.; Beef, 31/2d.; Mutton, 4d.; Pork, 31/2d.; Bacon, 7d.; Milk, per pint, 1/2d. A labourer's cottage cost him £110s. a year, and rates 1/- in the £.

Wages and Work in Arnold in 1845.

In 1845 there was a Commission appointed to enquire into the condition of the framework knitters; a report of which was presented to Parliament. Some of the evidence revealed a sad state of affairs. Wm. Jackson, of Arnold, F.W,K. wrought-hose branch, made 7 pairs a week at 17/6 per dozen, and paid out of it 1/- rent, 6d. taking in, 1/- seaming, and did his own mending.

Wm. Taylor, F.W.K. wrought-hose branch, averaged for himself 7s. 23d. per week clear. Had worked in Bulwell, and got 15/- for two frames for a fortnight, the expenses out of it being 11/-.

Wm. Parsons, shirt branch, complained of having to take bread for wages, at 2d. to 4d. a stone, being just under the price of bread. He was then out of work, had a wife and four children, and was receiving from the Board of Guardians 4/- and half a stone of bread for the whole of them. His rent was 1/6, coal 1/-; sugar and tea were luxuries that could not be indulged in.

John Hufton said nearly two-thirds of the trade of Arnold were working to bagmen, or middlemen.
Nearly all the witnesses complained of the truck system, whereby they were paid in goods instead of money.
Joseph Beadsley, a shoemaker at Arnold, made shoes for the framework knitters, and received 1/- per week, but often had to take it in bread which his customers had taken for wages.

Mr. Wright Allen, Surgeon, said there were in Arnold out of goo ratepayers, 250 whose whole rate together would not come to £15. They paid 71/2d., 101/2d., 1/2 and so on. Out of 4,500 people nine-tenths of them are paupers, or next to it, only one step above it. The children were put out at as early an age as 5 to 6 to wind, and small children of 6 or 7, if they could handle a needle, were put to seaming and kept at it. The people were better off since they had had cottage gardens; they had more potatoes. "We have about 50 acres of garden ground, and about 400 members, and we could—to give every man only half a rood of garden ground—do with 17 acres more." These lands were managed by four Trustees (of which he was one), who sublet and took all the responsibility.

Mr. Handley made hose at 9/3 a dozen, and had to work hard to make 13 pairs. The outgoings were frame rent, 1/-, taking in 4d., seaming 111/2d. a dozen, needles 2d. Thomas Granger made tops for mits at 3/2 a dozen ; with extra hours made 41/2 dozen. Outgoings 4/-.

Other witnesses were John Stacey, Thomas Grainger, George Darker, Joseph Grainger, Mr. Hextall, Mr. Jackson, Tho. Jallands, etc.

Mr. Wm. Felkin gave evidence that there were then in Arnold 1053 narrow frames, and 203 wide ones. Wages clear 6/6. "Mr. Pearson has let 22 acres in allotments of quarter acre each which are much sought after, well cultivated, yield capital crops, and are found very serviceable." (Note—These allotments were up Gedling Lane—on the southern side—now the G.N.R. tunnel. Abandoned as gardens about 1870, being too distant.)
Mr. Felkin says " they work generally from daylight until 10 o'clock at night, five days a week in winter, and during daylight in summer very frequently. The average is about 14 hours a day. The returns show wide differences in the character of hosiers, as to the rate of their wages and treatment of hands, and in the irregular working habits of many amongst them; too many showing so little steady industry as to make it not worth while for the best masters to give them employment."

Mr. Felkin gives details of eight families living in Holts Row, comprising the Cawthornes, Woodwards, Morleys, Browns, Hudsons, Claytons, Shirtcliffes, Carrs, etc., 154 separate cases. It would appear that on these frames 600 persons were dependent in the main for their support. The gross earnings were £75 12s. 3d.; charges £501s. 5d.; net receipts £45 10s. 10d.; or 10/- per frame gross, charges 4/-, net wages 6/-per frame, or 1/- per head, per week, to provide house rent, fuel, food, clothes, and all other necessaries. But it is probable that two-thirds of the winding and seaming charged, would be done in the workpeople's families, consequently the amount per head would be increased somewhat.

Thomas Emmerson complained strongly of the prevalence of the trucking system.