Canal Mill was built in 1855 during the Crimean War when Lancashire cotton industry was
at the forefront of cotton manufacturing. The mill opened in 1856 and was built for Richard
Smethurst a pioneer in the Chorley cotton industry.
After Richard Smethurst’s death in 1860, the mill was sold to William and Charles Widows who were
business associates of the Smethurst’s family. In the early 1860’s disaster struck the Lancashire
cotton industry when “The Cotton Famine”, which was the result of the American Civil War, meant
that supplies of raw cotton were not reaching the Lancashire Mills, it appears Canal Mill was no
exception as it ceased production in 1861.
Various family businesses bought and managed to keep the mill up and running to manufacture
various cotton goods until eventually in the very late 1950’s the mill eventually closed down due to a
general decline of the cotton industry.
In 1968 planning permission was given to use the mill for truck and vehicle repairs and the building
was sold to Gilbraiths Commercial Limited. Gilbraiths extended the building constructing a workshop
for trucks repairs.
In 1969 work began to construct the M61 motorway, followed by the building of Chorley North
Industrial estate in 1972. In 1991 Gilbraiths started to scale down their operations.
In February 1992 planning permission was applied for to turn the mill into a “Themed Visitor
Attraction” to suit all ages.
In 1994 Tim Knowles a local pioneering business man, purchased the mill and completely renovated
and restored the building at a cost of nine million pounds. Botany Bay Villages steeped with history
were officially opened on the 1st December 1995.
Botany Bay still stands proud on the M61 and is the flagship outlet within Tim Knowles retail portfolio.
The whole new world of Botany Bay now features 5 floors of shopping, a garden centre, restaurants
& coffee bars, and Puddletown Pirates indoor play centre. This major shopping venue and visitor
attraction is one of the gems of Lancashire and draws people from near and far.
If you would like to find out more about the history of Botany Bay and the surrounding area please
We would like to thank Arthur Howell for his efforts in researching this history.