The fifth spinning company c. 1839 – 1854
John Evans was the next owner. Official transfer through the Honour of Clitheroe Court only took place in Oct 1845. However Evans had been in business at Kirk Mill before that.
By 1839 the company, Messrs Evans and Walmsley, had installed gas lighting throughout the mill building and it was generated on site. (NB Stonyhurst College was one of the first buildings in England to be lit by gas, in 1811)
A gas explosion occurred at Kirk Mill in 1839 killing one man. (Preston Chronicle Feb 9 1839)
The gas lighting continued. T. Pearson, (History of Chipping 1943) noted the gas supply as a rarity and curiosity, generated by “a complete and elegant apparatus adjoining the works.”
The new illumination equipment was much admired, mill owned by William Evans and mill was “a complete model of order and cleanliness” and was “conducted with discipline that does honour to the trade” – according to James Pearson, vicar and author of short history of Chipping.
Pearson also recorded other technical information about John Evans’ spinning mill. Power was supplied by the breast wheel, 32ft diameter. Also a 12 horse steam engine was used occasionally during water shortages.
The censuses of 1841 and 1851 show John Evans cotton spinner, widower, (born Chelsea) living with his family at Kirk House. In 1851 he employed 10 men, 7 boys, 24 women. He negotiated a lease for Kirk Mill of 99 years at a cost of £255 a year, including the Mill, Grove Row and the land behind it (known as ‘The Pleasure Ground’ when the Row was a workhouse) (Crainer, 1984)
Evans was noted for developing splendid gardens at Kirk House.
On 1st July 1851 however, the gardens, the weirs and the lower parts of the mill were wrecked by a flash flood down Chipping Brook. (report Preston Guardian 5 July 1851) The ground floor of Kirk Mill, then the “throstle room” and adjoining joiner’s shop, was flooded to height of 6ft, water rising 2ft over the top of the machines which were left covered thickly with mud.
Similar report on the flood damage also by Alfred Weld, priest at Stonyhurst and son of George Weld of Leagram Hall. (Philosophical Magazine Sept 1851).