They built machines to last in the old days!
Initially, the mills thrived. The East Mill was added to process flax, but it was gutted by fire in 1799. Because of this, and a slump caused by war in France, Stanley Mills closed down.
The mills were bought in 1801 by James Craig, with financial support from David Dale, the founder of New Lanark mills. However, the business failed again and the mills closed in 1813.
In 1823, the mills were bought and reopened by Buchanan & Co of Glasgow. They enlarged the East Mill and built the Mid Mill, the gas works and, in Stanley village, a church and new housing. The company flourished for 30 years. In 1848, the owner, George Buchanan, helped establish a rail link to Stanley. This greatly eased the transportation of raw cotton from Glasgow. Buchanan sold the mills in 1852.
The next owner was Samuel Howard, who closed the mills during the Cotton Famine of the 1860s, causing mass unemployment.