Barrow Bridge is a model village A model village is a type of mostly self-contained community, built from the late 18th century onwards by landowners and industrialists to house their workers. started by John and Robert Lord, who built a cotton mill next to the Dean Brook in the north-west outskirts of Bolton in Greater Manchester, England. It was created in the Industrial Revolution, but since the demolition of the mills is now a residential village. The village was built in the township of Halliwell. When the south-eastern part of the township became part of the Municipal Borough of Bolton in 1877 the remaining north-western area, including Barrow Bridge, became known as Halliwell Higher End until 1894 when its name was changed to Smithills.
John and Robert Lord opened a water-powered cotton mill next to the Dean Brook. It housed spinning mules invented by Samuel Crompton. The brothers built thirteen cottages near the mill for its workers. In 1830, Thomas Bazley and Richard Gardner bought and demolished the mill and replaced it with Dean Mills, twin six-storey steam-powered mills on the east side of the brook at the entrance to the village. They created the model village on the hill top. The rows of cottages, a shop and an educational institute were accessed by a flight of stone steps. Houses for the managers were built a short distance away, overlooking the brook.
William Callender bought Dean Mill in 1861 but the company went out of business after his death and the mill was demolished in 1913.
Benjamin Disraeli visited the village in 1840 and it became the basis of his fictional village Millbank in his novel Coningsby, which was published in 1844.