Barrow Bridge is an interesting little village on the north west fringe of Bolton, just as it starts to climb up to the moors. The village nestles in a valley cut by Dean Brook on its way down from the hills. Now it is a picturesque village, but formerly it was a model industrial community.
Originally this was part of the Smithills Hall estate.
At the far end of the village, between Dean Brook and Dakins brook there is a footpath which climbs the spur and is known as 63 steps. Near this point at the end of the 18th century was built a factory which contained a number of Crompton's Mules. This was the first evidence of industrialisation in this picturesque valley.
In 1831 the whole estate in that area was purchased by Robert Gardner of Manchester, who proceeded to develop it as a Model Industrial Estate. The original mill was demolished and replaced in a different location by a more modern steam driven mill, illustrated here. The cottages seen in front of the mill are still standing today.
Also standing today as a monument to the industrial past is the chimney seen belching smoke in the distance. This is the somewhat misnamed Barrow Bridge chimney, also known locally as 'the big chimney', is actually a mile down the road and formerly served Smithills Bleach Works on Smithills Croft Road.
showing the old mill
Following the demolition of the Mill, its water source became a popular boating lake. That was filled in during the 1960s and is now a car park.