Bleak Hey Nook

Bleak Hey Nook is a collection of private houses. In the 1700s and 1800s it was a thriving textile producing hamlet with two pubs and a shop.

The buildings that stand today were once involved in textile production. The wide sets of narrow windows that characterise many of the buildings provided as much light as possible into the wool workshops.

In the 1841 census, most people here gave their occupation as either weavers or clothiers. In the 1700s this would have been a statement of wealth and of social standing, but by 1841 weavers and clothiers were tied to the volatile markets. In the 1840s textile production rapidly fell into the hands of a wealthy few mill-owners. Machines and the factory system had undercut piece-rates so much that textiles provided an unliveable wage for many, yet there was little alternative but to continue producing materials.

The first documented appearance of Bleak Hey Nook is in the middle of the 1700s. Most of the buildings that stand now were built from the mid-1700s to the early 1800s. Weaving cottages dominate but there was also a dye-house and a smithy.

Find out more

The National Heritage List and Greater Manchester Historic Environment Record retain details of the listing descriptions for each of the listed properties at Bleak Hey Nook.

Articles and specialist reports:

  • Arrowsmith P 2010, The Castleshaw Heritage Trail Project: Preliminary Archaeological and Historical Research – 2010

Places to go

Saddleworth Museum and Art Gallery holds a lot of good historic information for Bleak Hey Nook, including deeds, trades directories and photographs. These are available to researchers by appointment.

Nineteenth-century census documents are available online or at local record offices.