The charity making life better by water

Blackburn Heritage Trail

Find out more about Daisyfield Mill, the first location on our planned Blackburn Heritage Trail.

Daisyfield Corn and Flour Mill

Daisyfield Mill is the largest surviving corn mill in Blackburn. Corn milling in Blackburn dates as far back as Medieval times and many sites survived into the 19th Century.

Daisyfield Corn and Flour Mill on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal is a large, impressive building constructed in 1871 by Joseph Appleby & Sons. The mill boasted five storeys(including the basement) and was built out of brick on a stone base. Two railway tracks connected the mill to the east Lancashire line. Cast iron pillars and brick vaulted ceilings were designed to add protection against fire. There was a boiler house, a massive grain silo capable of holding 20, 000 sacks of wheat, a large single storey office block, boardroom and two cottages. The grain silo is inscribed ‘Appleby and sons' and the brick work suggests it was built later than the rest of the mill. On the canal side there are two hoist towers, ornately decorated and with pyramid roofs. The north gable of the mill has a keystone which is inscribed with ‘J.A.S. AD 1872'. The boiler house faces the canal and has a sluice gate.

Corn milling in Blackburn

Corn milling was the earliest mechanised industry in Blackburn and water-powered mills are known to have existed during the medieval period. The introduction of roller milling in the 1880s led to the closure of the smaller mills using grinding stones. Daisyfield Mill continued working until the middle of the twentieth century when transport and economic factors led to the end of large scale milling in Blackburn.

Originally, corn was hoisted up from the canal towpath and into the doorways on the upper floors. The milling used ten pairs of stones powered by a Musgrave engine. A major fire in 1875 caused the mill to be restored and extended. In 1883 the mill was converted to a roller milling operation, no longer using milling stones.

Daisyfield was very successful. By 1889, 3,000 sacks of flour were being produced each week by over 40 workers. The towpath is paved along the length of the mill with many mooring loops for the narrowboats which carried the grain to the mill. The finished milled product left the mill by railway, or for local customers by horse and cart.

The mill was taken over by Joseph Rank Ltd in 1928, and closed in 1968. It was subsequently used as warehouse. It was converted to offices around 1990 as part of a scheme to regenerate derelict canalside sites within Blackburn.

The Appleby Family

Joseph Appleby was a highly regarded industrialist and philanthropist of the time who owned mills in Enfield, Blackburn and Liverpool, all on the banks of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Arthur Appleby, second son of Joseph Appleby was born on 22 July 1843 at Henfield (Enfield), Clayton-le-Moors and became a first-class English cricketer. He began his playing days at Enfield Cricket Club, Clayton-le-Moors in 1861 when he was 18. He played in 58 matches for Lancashire between 1866 and 1887 and in 81 first-class matches in total and continued playing until about 1901.

He died aged 59 at Mill House, Enfield, Clayton-le-Moors, Lancashire, on 24 October 1902. When he died all work ceased in Enfield and schools were closed for the day in respect. Nearly 700 people walked behind the coffin. Thirty-two private carriages followed in the procession, eight of them containing his corn merchant colleagues from Liverpool and Bootle.

Take a look at some photos of Daisyfield Mill

Research by students at Darwen Aldridge Community Academy

Adam Moulvi, Jasmine Haigh, Lucy Norse, Sophia Hussain, KIra Bramley, Holly Thompson, Christopher Smith and History teacher Adam Turner.

Thanks to Ray Smith and Gordon Hartley at Blackburn Local History Society.

Last Edited: 20 July 2015

photo of a location on the canals
newsletter logo

Stay connected

Sign up to our monthly newsletter and be the first to hear about campaigns, upcoming events and fundraising inspiration