A Letter from Nantwich

September 2004 | Updated May 2016                                                                                             

Town's clothing factory history all sewn up

YET another era in the town's history is ending as the last of the town's six clothing factories is to be demolished and the site used for a small housing development. And it is reported in the local press that the last 50 workers - apart from a dozen who stayed on for a further fortnight to complete orders already in hand - were told to leave the building with only two hours' notice.

   True, the situation was not quite as bad as that makes it sound - but it was bad enough. There have been rumours - or was it stronger than that - for a few years that the factory that had helped to put Nantwich on the map as a clothing town was to cease to trade.

   This is - or (soon to be) was - the Nantwich site of a firm called Lewing Ltd. But the many Nantwich people who were employed there during the 1950s and '60s knew it (as did all the locals, of course) as Dewhurst's.

   Apparently there are to be 41 new homes on the site, comprising - according to the Nantwich Guardian - blocks of:

  •  four one-bedroom apartments

  •  four two-bedroom flats

  •  24 three-bedroom townhouses, and 

  • nine four-bedroom townhouses.   

     As might be expected, local residents organised a petition against the development. The site backs on to The Broadway, one of the areas of the town which were green fields in living memory - or at least not much further back in time. 

Other clothing factories that have ceased

to be are: Baronia (Harding's), Doody's, Heap's, and Haighton's (two factories).





Dewhurst's factory in Millstone Lane in 2004



The following details can be found on panels in Nantwich Museum:


l In 1850, George Harlock and Co owned a clothing factory employing 150 to 200 workers making moleskin and corduroy trousers, using some power-assisted machinery. 

l In 1872, John Harding of Manchester built a clothing factory on the Barony on the outskirts of town, which became known as Baronia Works. This was extended in 1880 and made good quality clothes - coats, suits and sportswear - for the middle classes.


By 1890, five clothing factories were operating in Nantwich. They were: 

l George K. Cooke in Pall Mall;

l Charles Doody and Son in Beam Street, later moving to Pratchett's Row;

l James Heap and Co, in Mill Street, moving to the centre of an estate of 65 houses for workers, built on the Barony next to Baronia and later to Crewe road;

l Joseph Haighton and Sons, Hospital Street;

lJames Barlow in Welsh Row.

   By 1928, Dewhurst's had several clothing factories in Nantwich.


May 2005 to May 2016 - a countdown of the progress


May 2005: Bulldozers and diggers have moved on to the site and are demolishing the outbuildings.


June: The main building facing Millstone Lane is disappearing. The white wall has gone and there is little left of the upper storey.












July: The buildings have gone (that's an electricity sub-station on the left of the picture) and the diggers are clearing the site. 




July 16 All the buildings have been demolished and the site cleared ready for the arrival of the builders.


January: A housing development company, John Warrington Homes, has acquired the land and moved plant on to the site. 


February: Work has started. No houses at this stage, but lots of what look like drainage runs. A notice at the site says that the development will be called Millstone Court.


July: The first block on the site is coming on well. The digger to the left of the picture is standing on the road to the houses. The original entrance to the site has been levelled to become pavement.


How the first block of homes looked at the end of July





An artist's impression of an "Audlem" design house.




A plan of the development.

Both lots of artwork here are taken from the brochure which was issued by John Warrington Homes.



The development is now called Miller's Croft and the name of the developer on the site boards is Castlegate Homes.




The first of four blocks planned for the site is completed - so far as I can see from the road. The smaller building on the left of the picture is the marketing suite. The houses in the far distance are an old-established development, The Broadway. 



Behind a very neat hoarding, work has begun on the apartment block which will face on to Millstone Lane.





This is the roadside part of the development so far, showing Fairfax House. This is the third Nantwich landmark named after the 17th century Civil War soldier, General Fairfax. There's Fairfax Bridge on the Waterlode and an apartments development on The Barony, Fairfax Court).

    According to the site plan (see above), there is only one road - J-shaped - on the development.

   The developers have now gone for the name Imperial Court - after Imperial Works which the factory on the site was called at one time.

  2009                                                                  2010                                                       2015


The hoardings have been removed from around the apartments block, Fairfax House, on Millstone Lane.



Work still seems to be in progress, but there is a large wooden hoarding to the right of the plot where a second rows of homes seems to be planned (see above). Fairfax House (pictured left in 2009), the apartment block in Millstone Lane, is now fully occupied.

   This development is featured on a Spotlight

On ... feature: 80 new addresses in 10 years.



Work has finally begun on the central area of Imperial Court where the houses are beginning to rise above the top of the hoarding that had circled the area from almost the start of the development.

    The new homes will be facing those originally built on the site, and across the far end of the development.   







Almost there. The new part of the development is now at the show house stage with the last available houses being advertised.

   The houses out of sight to the left of the image were the original houses to be built and sold.

   Fairfax house, on Millstone Lane, is to the right of the image, behind the camera.

   For a site plan, see the entry for 2006 (above). 


St Anne's Court (St Anne's Lane) | Wellington House (JobCentre site) | The homes on the old Nantwich Town F.C. ground | Homes behind former public house site | New use for planned apartments site | 550 homes of college-owned land | New homes for old gas works site | Enough is enough!  | Eighty new addresses in 10 years

Baronia wear comes home


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