Beehive Mill

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Manchester, Beehive Mill, Jersey Street

The BEEHIVE MILL is one of a group of internationally significant cotton spinning mills in Ancoats. Part of its special interest is in the system of fireproof construction. It was a room and power mill, i.e. designed for multiple tenancies. The earliest part is an L- shaped block of five storeys and thirteen original bays to Radium Street with three bays to Jersey Street, S. It was extant by 1824. There is a later C19 two-bayGlossary Term extension at the N end of the Radium Street front. A lunetteGlossary Term flanked by two conventional windows in the S gableGlossary Term, to Jersey Street, lights the atticGlossary Term. The (modified) three-storey engine house is in the N end bayGlossary Term of the original building, as was the original entrance which gave access to an internal circular stair tower which wrapped around the chimney. The mill was affected by serious fires in the C19, so the internal construction may not be original. It has heavy timber floors without joistsGlossary Term and the cast-iron columns with compression plates at the top to spread the load. This is one of only two surviving examples of this form of construction to survive in Manchester, the other being at nearby Brownsfield Mill, Binns Place. The roof has unusual trusses of timber and cast ironGlossary Term designed to maximise the usable atticGlossary Term space.

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Manchester, Beehive Mill, Jersey Street

The attached warehouse wing on Jersey Street is dated 1824. A stone arched entrance leads to a yard behind. The building is a sophisticated example of a rarely surviving form of fireproof construction in which interlocking cast-iron beams supported by cast-iron columns form a grid which receives huge stone flags. In this method of construction the T-shaped beams are inverted in orderGlossary Term to receive the flags. The earliest known examples are at Armley Mill Leeds (1810), at Stanley Mill, Gloucester (1813) and at the Royal Dockyards in Chatham and Devonport, where Edward Holl was also using the method in 1813. The roof structure is of advanced design and similarly devoid of timber: cast-iron trusses are held under tension by wrought-iron ties. Holl was using similar roofs at Chatham Dockyard and William Fairbairn used this type of roof from 1825 onwards, including at his own (demolished) workshops in Ancoats. There is no evidence that he was involved in the construction of Beehive Mill, but he may have contributed to the roof design or known of it.

Like so many buildings in the neighbourhood, Beehive Mill seemed destined to slow decline, but a conversion in 1996 by Provan & Makin gave it a new lease of life. The building houses offices, a club and rehearsal studios and teaching suites, but all of the important structural elements are intact



Small top storey within a roof. Also the storey above the main entablature of a classical fa


Division of an elevation or interior space as defined by regular vertical features such as arches, columns, windows etc.

Cast iron

Hard and brittle iron, cast in a mould to the required shape rather than forged. Compare wrought iron.


Peaked external wall at the end of a double-pitch roof. Types include: Dutch gable, with curved sides crowned by a pediment (also called a Flemish gable); kneelered gable, with sides rising from projecting stones (kneelers); pedimental gable, with classical mouldings along the top; shaped gable, with curved sides; tumbled gable, with courses or brick or stonework laid at right-angles to the slope. Also (Scots) a whole end wall, of whatever shape.


Horizontal timbers laid in parallel to support the floor of a building.


Semicircular window or blind panel.


One of a series of recessed arches and jambs forming a splayed medieval opening, e.g. a doorway or arcade arch. Also, an upright structural member used in series, especially in classical architecture: see Orders.