THE UNWINS

 

The Unwins settled at Sutton in Ashfield from London c.1760. The eldest son, Samuel, married the heiress Lucy Heathcote. This wealthy couple built Sutton Hall and planted the grounds today known as "The Lawn" or Sutton Lawn. They built the Gothic style factory at Eastfield Side c.1775 based on the revolutionary Richard Arkwright system for the manufacture of high quality nankeen and gingham fabrics. Oxen originally powered the mill, however, the mill was later converted to waterpower after construction of the ‘lawn dam’, which later became a boating lake and part of the recreation grounds. The dam, although close to the Maun was built on the river Idle, a much smaller tributary of the Maun that flowed through Sutton in Ashfield from the Portland Square area. The slow flowing Idle proved to be inadequate so Unwin installed a wind powered  pump to replenish the upper reservoir from a lower reservoir after it had turned the 24 foot diameter water-wheel. By 1790 Unwin installed a more reliable steam engine to drive the mill. They also built large mills at Tansley, near Matlock and built Hermitage Mill, the first mill on the Maun to be associated with the textile industry rather than corn grinding. There was no shortage of labour as their London connections provided child labour from the ever growing population of destitute families.

 

The original Gothic style Sutton Mill built by Samuel Unwin c.1775 on Eastfield Side.

Samuel Unwin died suddenly at Sutton Hall in 1800 while his son, also Samuel, died at the Sutton Works, unmarried in 1841 leaving the old Hall to become ruinous. Although the family had long left the area, the Unwins demolished the old hall in 1884 and built a new residence on the site for their agent, employed to oversee the family’s considerable property interests in the area. After the death of Samuel Unwin in 1841 the old mill changed hands many times also suffering many serious fires. The site has recently been redeveloped for housing and leisure with the remains of the original mill incorporated into the new development. The 20 acre recreational grounds including the dam & millpond are now owned & maintained by Asfield District Council providing the venue for the annual Ashfield Show.