Ossy Mills Heritage
Based in a former cotton weaving mill (Moscow Mill), Oswaldtwistle Mills has a long history of welcoming people through its doors, much of which is tied up with Oswaldtwistle’s industrial past as one of Lancashire’s many famous cotton towns.
The cotton weaving industry had humble beginnings in single roomed weavers’ cottages where, more than 300 years ago, local weavers would spin yarn and weave calico cloth from raw cotton sold to them by a local farmer. Then in 1764, James Hargreaves, an ancestor on our family tree, triggered the start of the Industrial Revolution by inventing the Spinning Jenny. This escalated the cotton industry into vast productivity as the Spinning Jenny could now do the job of 8 spinners in keeping one weaver supplied with yarn. By the early 1800’s, hundreds of workers would stream through the doors of Moscow Mill into the clattering atmosphere of what is now The Weavers Court. Weaving was carried out continuously at Moscow Mill for more than 150 years until the early 1990’s when the globalisation of manufacturing caused the last weaving shed to close and Oswaldtwistle Mills to be born.
We have a wonderful photo in our archives showing excited Mill workers climbing onto ‘charabancs’ to take them on annual trips – the Mill and the community were closely linked and the owners keen to offer their workers fun times. History has come full circle; modern day Oswaldtwistle Mills now welcomes thousands of coaches a year. Last year we had 1,500,000 visitors through our doors! That’s a staggering figure and one we are very proud of.
Oswaldtwistle Mills has been home to an Aladdin’s Cave of shopping treasures for 25 years now since we opened as one of the first Mill Shopping Villages in Lancashire. A lot has changed since those early days selling detergents and fabric remnants under our former guise of The Bubble Factory, but our modern-day Shopping Village and Garden Centre offers something different to amaze, charm and tempt on every visit.
Walk through our ever-expanding 120,000 feet of retail space and you’ll find all the gift inspiration you could need: scented candles, arts and crafts supplies, sewing machines, contemporary furniture and home furnishings, lighting and literature including local interest books, an impressive range of clothes, shoes and accessories including many leading high-street brands, a gourmet food deli and butchers, old fashioned sweet shop and more! And if all this retail therapy leaves you feeling peckish there’s plenty of choice – from the contemporary Cafe Nova to the Hungry Tackler (which is great for groups), to the relaxing Pavillion Coffee Shop, the chic Terrace Tea Room or Tootsie’s indulgent Ice Cream Parlour.
Intrigued by Oswaldtwistle Mill’s history? Visit the Heritage Centre, or find yourself drawn back into childhood by the scent of Stockley’s Sweet Shop. Take the Nature Trail in our beautifully landscaped Mill Grounds, discover the range of Wildfowl in our Wildfowl Reserve or pot a hole-in-one on our Mini Golf Course. Enjoy the colourful displays in our Garden Centre or feed the fish in Maidenhead Aquatics. There’s certainly fun to be had for all the family and do keep an eye on our Events section here on our new website www.o-mills.co.uk/events – here you’ll find our Calendar of Special Events, Seasonal Attractions, Classes and Workshops.
What really matters to us is that each of our visitors has a unique, enjoyable experience. And we like to think our visitors know a thing or two about how to enjoy themselves – after all, we beat the competition to be crowned the “Best Shopping Venue for Groups in the UK” at the 2012 Group Travel Awards, also coming runner up in this category in 2013 & winning their award for “Best Mill Shop or Factory Outlet” for an amazing six years running. At the 2012 UK Coach Awards, we were runner up for “Most Coach-Friendly Shopping Attraction” & this year we’re a Finalist in the “Best Shopping Retail Outlet” category at the Group Leisure Awards. We’re also accredited with Investors in People and have been awarded the Most Friendly UK Operator via Coach Tours UK.
Keeping up with tradition, Oswaldtwistle Mills is a community in itself – peopled by enthusiastic and hard working concession-owners and the staff who support them. This year we have welcomed a number of new concessions; a vibrant mixture of high profile stores and burgeoning family businesses. These include Bonmarché Ladieswear, Whittakers Schoolwear, Blackburn-based Brilliant Fires and Tootsies Ice Cream Parlour who manufacture their delicious Jersey Ice Cream nearby in Preston. Couple this with several new leading brands across Furniture and Accessories, Giftware, Clothing and in our Deli, and you really have a shopping experience that’s as individual as you are. All our concessions are glad to hear your feedback and share our enthusiasm.
We are pleased to announce the opening of our New Garden Centre Extension early next year. Currently home to Santa and his Woodland Wonderland Grotto, the Garden Centre Extension can be found to the rear of Oswaldtwistle Mills on the way to our Mill Grounds.
However you choose to spend your time with us, we look forward to giving you a warm Lancashire Welcome at Oswaldtwistle Mills!
(The youngest member of the Hargreaves Family sixth generation)