A Fireproof Mill
After the disastrous fire, a new fireproof mill was
designed and constructed by Fairbairn and Sons of
Manchester using the latest techniques.
In the 18th century
mill fires were not uncommon. Small mills were
sometimes built entirely of brick or stone, but the
larger buildings had wooden floors and supporting
columns, and were often lit by candlelight, so fires
In 1817 two young Scotsmen
William Fairbairn and James Lillie set them
themselves up as millwrights in Manchester.
Fairbairn gained a lot of experience in the use of
wrought iron, and advanced the technology, using it
in the construction of ships, high pressure
locomotive boilers, machinery, roofs, and bridges.
Fairbairn and Sons became one of the leading
engineering companies, and fitted-out large numbers of
fireproof textile and corn mills throughout the
country. In 1850 Fairbairn’s firm was responsible
for the fireproof construction of Saltaire Mills
near Bradford, which he regarded as
“a source of
pride to myself”. In the building he used cast iron
beams supported by cast iron supporting columns,
with brick arches supporting each floor.