Holt Town Manchester – Part One

1785 Established by David Holt, and described as the only known example of a factory colony in Manchester, that is, an isolated mill complex with housing for the workers.

1794 Mills advertised for sale following the bankruptcy of David Holt and Company.

Things, as we know, have a tendency to come and go – ’twas ever thus.

A whole history of the area can be found here.


River Medlock Holt Town

The area has seen a transition, in some two hundred year or more, from a leafy rural idyll, to smoke choked industrial hell and back again.


Pollard Street


Photographs from the Manchester Image Archive.

In 2014 I visited the site of the former Distillers Company, later Air Liquide UK, production had ceased. The factory was just about standing, litter and detritus strewn, unloved and unwanted, temporary home to the homeless.

The Industrial Revolution has been and gone – bye bye.


There are plans for redevelopment, couched in the terms of the professional new-speak of the new urban renewalists.

The international design competition for Holt Town looked for a solution to the dilemma of providing a sustainable, distinctive, high density family-led residential community in close proximity of the Manchester regional centre.

Promising open green spaces and housing based on the traditional European perimeter block model, not a mention of a mill.

Possibly lasting a little longer than David Holt’s dream, and subsequent manifestations.



















14 thoughts on “Holt Town Manchester – Part One

  1. I think it is really nice to be able to read up on the history of Holt Town. I lived opposite there as a child and my dad had a business in Holt Town. I used to see people on the balconies than hung over the River Medlock from the frontage on Ashton New Road. As a child I played on the red rec and also ventured down the “Devil steps” to Holt Town many times and through the large metal gates onto the banks of the Medlock. I love history and old photos. It is very informative and I enjoyed reading about it :Thank you )


  2. The steps leading down to Holt town, from Cambrian street (referred to above as ‘the devil steps’) feature in a scene in the film ‘A Taste of Honey’, c1963 – screenplay by the Salford playwright Shelagh Delaney – starring inter alia Rita Tushingham and Dora Bryan.


    1. The stone steps between Holt Town and Cambrian street have been badly damaged by an unsuccessful attempt to steal an extremely large stone slab (an operation that must have involved some heavy duty lifting equipment); and currently have barriers restricting access (though these can be by-passed with care). The three bottom steps and some at the top had already been replaced some time ago with concrete replacements – presumably after a similar theft.


  3. Pingback: A Taste Of Honey

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