From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present
River Maun
53° 10' 01.3" N 1° 09' 40.4" W
SK 5617163651

  • History
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
River Maun is a river in Nottinghamshire, England.

The rivers source lies in Kirkby-in-Ashfield, and from there it flows north east through Mansfield, which takes its name from the river, Edwinstowe and Ollerton, these being the heart of the Sherwood Forest area. It becomes known as Whitewater near the village of Walesby and connects to the River Meden temporarily where the Robin Hood Way crosses them. They diverge, and near Markham Moor it merges again with the River Meden this time becoming the River Idle. Its main tributaries are Rainworth Water, Vicar Water and Cauldwell Water.

The river has been an important source of power, from at least 1086, when there was a water mill in Mansfield. A big increase in the number of mills began in the 1780s, when the frame knitting industry was decimated by the advent of Richard Arkwright's water-powered spinning frame. William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland, encouraged the building of textile mills to relieve unemployment and poverty. Most were converted to do "cotton doubling", and several later became hosiery mills. The conversion of water mills which had formerly ground corn to textile mills led to the building of windmills to carry on milling corn. Although water power has largely ceased, there is still an operational water-mill at Ollerton.

Mansfield had a cottage industry, which by 1800 consisted of around 700 knitting frames. It operated as a social service, as most of the workers were either orphaned children, or children from families who would otherwise be destitute. Following the invention of the "water-frame", a spinning frame that was powered by a water wheel, which had been invented by Richard Arkwright in 1771 and used in his mills at Cromford, the cottage industry could not compete, and there was widespread unemployment and poverty in Mansfield.

By 1887, most of the textile mills, including Bleakhills Mill, were marked on maps a being "cotton doubling" mills, a process in which multiple strands of cotton were wound together to form thicker threads. In 1899, only Field Mill and Bath Mill were still marked in this way. Most of the rest were then marked "Hosiery", although Stanton Mill was marked "Boot and Shoe".

There were other mills besides the textile mills. Between Field Mill and Town Mill, there was an iron foundry, called Meadow Foundry, which was built by William Bradshaw and John Sansom in 1852. The site had previously been occupied by a water-powered bark mill, and remained in the ownership of the Duke of Portland. In 1867, Bradshaw and Sansom negotiated a new 14-year lease with the Duke, which included the supply of water from King's Mill reservoir, but they became bankrupt during the following year. It was taken over by James Bownes, who formed a limited company to operate it, and it remained in use until 1960, when the firm moved to new premises, and the site was redeveloped by the Mansfield Brewery.

Below the foundry was Borough Mills, which operated as a saw mill. Between Town Mills and Stanton Mill was the Rock Valley Mill, which was operated by Dickenson Ellis as a mustard mill in the early nineteenth century. It was taken over by David Cooper Barringer in 1839, who formed Barringer and Company to operate it. In 1873, they decided to pack the mustard in decorated tin boxes, instead of wooden ones, and made the boxes on site from pre-printed metal sheet. Soon they were making tin boxes for other companies, and the separate Rock Valley Tin Works was formed in 1889. Three years later, a printing works was established, to print the metal sheets, and it became a limited company in 1895. Following several takeovers, it remains in business as Carnaud Metal Box Engineering.