AN ENORMOUS ROOFTOP PEAR
WRITTEN BY Hayley Flynn
READING TIME: 2 minutes
Stockport's Pear Mill does exactly what it says on the tin - a huge pear on the roof of a mill
Began in 1907 and completed in 1912 by A.H Stott & Sons, this is Stockport’s Pear Mill. The mill is Grade II listed and was one of the last cotton spinning mills to be built and to go into production. It ceased operation as a textile mill in March 1978.
Although an usual feature to gaze upon now, the pear that nestles on the water tower wasn’t particularly out of character at the time. These Edwardian mills were often adorned flaboyantly and during the design of the twenty-four A.H Stott & Sons mills, meticulous attention was cast upon the water towers and parapet of the main mill block. A signature style of the architects’ was the use of horizontal bands of yellow bricks above the windows, Accrington brick and terracotta ornamentation.
This behemoth of a pear isn’t the only fruit you’ll find up on the roof, flanking the mill at the furthest corners from this are two more, much smaller yet much greener, pear finials. These tiny siblings of the main feature are sadly showing much wear and tear.
Lead architect, Abraham Henthorn Stott, served his apprenticeship with Sir Charles Barry, the architect of the Houses of Parliament and his firm eventually became big players in the mill industry of the time. With the money from his business rolling in, A.H. Stott bought an estate near Conway, the house he had built caught fire and he was charged with arson. He was acquitted on the grounds of insufficent evidence but during this time his brothers (and partners in business) had expressed concerns over his mental health. They stated he’d mooted suicide after failing to persuade his wife to move to the Welsh estate with him. Quite why his wife wouldn’t go with her husband is unclear, and a little bizarre.
The Stott’s florid Pear might not have caught your attention if you’ve not had cause to visit Stockport, however that’s no longer an excuse - the pear is visible upon descent into Manchester airport and, was certainly at one point, floodlit during the evenings, making it glow white.
In the Stockport Archives you can access records relating to the mill, that in a few pages, detail a timeline from 1912 - 1965 including the applications made for planning permission, the firing of A H Stott and Sons for running over budget and time, and a complaint regarding breaches in employment law filed by the beautifully named ‘Stockport and District Weavers, Winders, Warpers and Reelers’.
Venturing North, thirty or so miles away in Oswaldtwistle, you’ll find another mill and another pear. This time it’s at Oswaldtwistle Mills; the site of Stockley’s Sweets and the pear in question? The biggest pear drop in the world.