This archive contains the records produced as part of the Greater Manchester Textile Mills Survey, from its inception in 1985 until the publication of Cotton Mills in Greater Manchester in 1992. However the range of dates of creation of the records (excluding CMS2/7) is 1985-1995 because the records were used and added to during their period of custody at GMAU after the completion of the survey and up until their deposit at the John Rylands University Library of Manchester in 1995. A further deposit of computer print-outs of the county Sites and Monuments Record database (CMS2/7) was made by GMAU to the Library in February 2000.
The archive contains records produced as part of the administration and organization of the survey as well as the resulting data. The former sub-group (CMS1) includes administrative records, reports, minutes, correspondence, research materials and background records for the different stages of the survey. The records are also relevant to other projects undertaken by GMAU, exhibitions prepared by GMAU, the Ancoats Study Group, the Urban Development Corporation Area Survey, the roles of the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission (English Heritage) and RCHME, the RCHME survey of textile mills in Yorkshire, issues concerning archaeological heritage and industrial archaeology.
The survey itself consisted of map surveys and the identification of mill sites, initial field surveys, detailed surveys, research using archives and library material and terrestrial and aerial photographic records. The second sub-group of records (CMS2) contains the resulting data of the survey. Some 2,400 mill sites were identified and over 1,000 were surveyed. Mill sites were investigated to differing extents and were divided into four categories. Category A sites were selected for detailed recording; files contain a full written report, a surveyed plan and elevation, historical and documentary information, photocopies of plans and documents, terrestrial photographs, and photocopies of aerial photographs. Category B sites were selected for detailed recording but without a full written report; files contain historical and documentary information and various combinations of plans and photographs. Category C sites are recorded in the archive with site survey sheets, a print-out of the county Sites and Monuments Record guide sheet and terrestrial and aerial photographs. Category D sites are no longer extant but are mention in the text of the publication. The gazetteer included in Cotton Mills in Greater Manchester lists all surveyed mills by area and makes reference to the category designated for each site.
Researchers investigating a particular mill site are advised to consult initially the print-outs from the county Sites and Monuments Record database for the particular district in which the site is situated (CMS2/7). The print-outs will provide the SMR number by which the site can be identified in the field survey sheets (CMS2/3), and in the terrestrial photographs (CMS2/6). Sites can also be identified on the survey maps (CMS2/2), by means of a list of SMR numbers (CMS2/2/1/2). Almost all sites in Categories A and B, and a few Category C sites, are documented by individual files, which provide much fuller information on their history and architecture (CMS2/4). For example, the Swan Lane Mills complex in Bolton (SMR 14419, Category B) is recorded in the archive by a print-out from the county Sites and Monuments Record database for Bolton (CMS2/7/1), which provides the SMR number to locate the mills among the terrestrial photographs (CMS2/5) and the field survey sheets for Bolton (CMS2/3/2). In addition, there are aerial photographs (CMS2/6), map data for Bolton (CMS2/2/2/1), and an individual mill file for the site (CMS2/4/1/12), while general information on mills in Bolton may be found in the town's documentary material (CMS2/1/1).