Paradise Mill takes you back in time to Macclesfield of the early 20th century, with the only working Jacquard silk hand looms in the country in their original location, offering the experience of what it would have been like to be a Macclesfield mill worker.
The present Upper Mill was built for silk manufacture around 1824. In 1862 during a slump in trade, the owner John Bagshaw, a cotton manufacturer, pulled down the neighbouring 18th century mill and built Lower Mill, which we know as Paradise Mill today.
During the second half of the 19th century, the mills were used by several silk and cotton manufacturers. In 1870, David Hooton and John Hockenhull, who already occupied the second floor for cotton weaving, bought the mills, and it was at this time that the term Paradise Mills was first used. By now the cotton industry in Macclesfield was declining, and from 1891 the mills were used exclusively for silk. One of the more notable tenants was James Kershaw, whose firm was well known for the richness of design and variety of fabrics; “He produced nothing but new style, and in less than six months had at least 100 looms in full work”, using new modern machinery. By 1891 the mills were exclusively used for silk manufacturing.
In 1912, Arthur Cartwright and Percy Sheldon, both designers and from families traditionally connected with silk, formed a partnership and rented rooms at Paradise Mills. By 1920 they bought both mills for £6,000. As well as having old looms repaired and new ones made, they bought six second-hand looms and Jacquard machines from J & F Jackson of Sutton Mills in Macclesfield. By the 1930s some 70 looms were in use on the top floor of Lower Paradise Mill, where there is sufficient headroom in the roof space. Cartwright and Sheldon remained owners and principal occupants until 1981 when the firm went into liquidation. In 1983 work began to restore the machinery to working order, with the idea of opening a working museum where silk could again be woven on the old handlooms.
Paradise Mill is a Grade II listed building and the loom floor contains 26 restored Jacquard looms, along with designers’ and managers’ offices. Today on a guided tour of Paradise Mill, our knowledgeable mill guide will demonstrate various pieces of mill machinery, including the Jacquard loom, whilst telling you more about the industry and the people who worked in it.
Access: Three flights of stairs. If you need the lift then please speak to a member of staff when booking your ticket. Please note that there is no wheelchair access at Paradise Mill. Visitors with mobility problems are limited to 3 people per tour. An accessible toilet is available at The Silk Museum.
Location: Paradise Mill is located off Mill Street on the old Park Lane. There is no on-site parking, but there is short stay on-street parking directly outside the building and public car parking on Park Green, close to the junction with Park Lane (the Old Library car park in front of The Society Rooms pub).