The Grove Mill site is an early rural industrial location and was in use in the 17th cent, for woollen processing, a corn mill (Brookes Mill) was also in production by the 18th cent. Millbrook House and the cobbled alleyway (which you pass on your way into Bygone Times) date from this earlier period and still remain part of the Bygone Times site today. Millbrook House is situated at the far end of Bygone 1 and is used nowadays as the buildings main offices. Housing 4 members of staff and 3 ghosts you can imagine it can get quite crowded down there after dark. In the 1830s a calico printing works was erected, the premises were known as Syd Brook Grove Works, powered by two large waterwheels on the works lodge. The owner was a Thomas Bentley, upon who’s death in 1844 the business was sold on to become part of a cotton mill complex when Grove Mill was built in 1845.
Cotton spinning production at Grove Mill was to increase under the ownership of John Jacob Smalley (trading as John Smalley, Sykes & Co.) in the 1850s and by 1861 the mill was employing 300 workers in both spinning and weaving production. The Wesleyans had a meeting room in a weaving shed in the mill until 1863 when their own chapel was ready for occupancy. This meeting room is home to 2 ghosts in the guise of 2 unruly children playing outside said meeting room.
Aerial Photograph 1930's
A serious fire at the mill in September 1875 destroyed the preparation and spinning facilities including valuable machinery and mill buildings. A number of families who worked at Grove Mill are recorded as having left the village because of layoffs after the fire.
In 1884 Grove Mill was purchased for the princely sum of £1,150 from John & Herbert Howarth by Mr Ibzan Sagar and his business partner. Unfortunately the business very soon ran into financial difficulties, having to honour contracts with the Howarths suppliers and paying above market price for yarn. However help was at hand when Carrington & Woods purchased the mill appointing Ibzan Sagar as manager on a salary of 35/- per week. This was to seal a great future not only for Grove Mill but the future prosperity of Eccleston.
In 1895 the firm became Carington & Dewhursts with Grove Mill and New Mill (now the Carrington Centre) being the largest rayon weaving mills in the world after the merger with Viyella in 1970. During World War 11 parachutes were manufactured at Grove Mill for British Airborne Forces.
Leonora Carrington the surrealist artist was a member of the Carrington family who found recognition within the art world for her extraordinary paintings, having become a devotee and companion to Max Ernst during the 1930s. She continues to paint and has lived in Mexico since the 1950s.
Grove mill ceased production of textiles in the early 1980s and some older parts of the mill were demolished, whilst some areas were let as industrial units. In the late 1980s a business consortium, which included Mr John Rigby and the present owner Mr Tim Knowles, began to re-develop the mill into Bygone Times, the antiques and collectors centre we know it as today.
Bygone Times was named thus because it was to house antiquities from days and eras gone by, when the current owners purchased the site there was no knowing that the site came with added extras, spirits of workers from days and eras gone by.
If you would like to follow the ghost trail at Bygone Times please ask a member of staff during your visit and they will be happy to provide you with your free of charge copy to guide you as you walk around. For more information about Bygone Times please contact the team on 01257 451889 or email firstname.lastname@example.org