Have you ever wondered what the weaver’s cottage was?

The Cottage can be found on Bacup road between Ilex Mill and Rawtenstall’s Health Hub, seemingly out of place; this cottage would have been common during the time it was built.

Many people have seen this building but they don’t know anything about it or its history.

Some brief history
  • The ground floor would have been used as a home
  • The first and second floors would have been used as a workshop where large weaving looms would have been operated.
  • During the industrial revolution, it was split into four separate dwellings.
  • In the 1940s the first murder recorded in Rossendale and one of the tenants of the cottage was the convicted murder.
  • Was used as a Police Box.
The Cottage is
  • Dated around the 18th century when English weaving was at its height.
  • A three-story brick building
  • The first and second floors have six large windows
  • Built with two large floors with an open plan layout for working
  • South facing
  • Access to the working floors was at the rear of the building.

What was the cottage originally used for?

The cottage name tells us that the main use was for Wool and/or silk weaving.

Weaving was a trade common among the working people. Therefore the cottage work area’s were available to all the weavers in the province.

It seems like the designer had taken in the risks of this profession when he had planned this building. The good building design is necessary for specialised work.

You can see this in the used of windows so that the natural lighting would reduce the number of candles needed in the room, this will minimise the risk of a possible fire. A fire was a major worry in the weaving business, just one spark could lose your livelihood and your home.

Some weavers employed their own or local children to assist with the weaving process as children could easily reach more difficult areas on the loom.

Until the introduction of the powered loom, this cottage would have been in constant use.

At the height of the industrial revolution, work in the mills was encouraged. With mills able to produce large quantities of fabric it became harder for those who worked in these cottages.

As a result, the weaving profession began to be abandoned.

English weaving is a traditional skill among those in decline.

Resulting in the cottage workshop being left vacant, the large space was partitioned off to create homes. But, as more desirable homes were built, the weaver’s cottage again was empty.

The weavers cottage was in the location of the first murder in Rossendale’s living history. The shocking murder of Nancy Chadwick in 1948. Find out more Click here.

Rawtenstall illex mill and weavers cottageWhat is it now?

In the 1970s the area was under urban renewal.

This council approved arrangement resulted in several old buildings being demolished.

The Rawtenstall Civic Society saved the cottage from being completely demolished. Unfortunately, the rear sloped roof was lost.

The Civic Society was able to restore the cottage to as much of its original format. Now using it as a heritage centre for the local area.

In October 2019 the Cottage was granted the chance to use local traditional craftsmen to install new sash windows helping bring the original look back to the building.

The cottage became a grade II listed building registered on the 16th October 1970. This gives the weavers cottage the status of a building of national importance and special interest.


Learn More
There is a video provided by the Rossendale civic trust marking The history of the weavers’ cottage.