Lower Peak Forest Canal

Boiler Explosion at Apethorn Mill

Manchester Times
Saturday, 10 September 1887


On Wednesday evening (7 September 1887) an explosion, with disastrous results, occurred at Apethorn Mill, the property of Mr. Benjamin Ashton, situate on the borders of the Peak Forest Canal, between Hyde and Stockport. The mills are built in a triangular form†, in the centre being the boiler house and engine rooms. One of the mills has been stopped for a considerable time, and lately recommenced, and on Wednesday evening the workpeople were suddenly startled by a terrific explosion. On rushing into the triangular yard they saw that the outer boiler had burst. The boiler, about 30ft. in length, was shattered into fragments and flung enormous distances, one end only resting in the canal; the adjoining boiler was bulged in and rendered useless; one flue was flung against a storeroom, and the other right across the canal, smashing the telegraph wires. The boiler house was completely wrecked, and bricks and slates were precipitated through the roof and windows of the adjoining mills and hurled for considerable distances. The canal was completely blocked, and the traffic impeded. Among the débris was found the fireman, William Shore, who was wheeling a barrow into the shed at the moment the explosion occurred. Both were blown for some distance, and the barrow overturned and rested on Shore, undoubtedly saving his life. He escaped with several contusions, and several of the workpeople were also slightly injured. A portion of the works are in ruins.

†The mills were built in the shape of a letter 'U'.

Apethorn lengthman's house and canal towpath looking towards Hyde, September 1887.

This view shows part of the boiler that was blown over the canal from Apethorn Mill when the boiler exploded on the evening of Wednesday, 7 September 1887.
Gee Cross Mill (formerly Apethorn Mill) looking towards Hyde, early 20th century.

The narrow in the canal is Apethorn Stop Place.