Crab Lane itself dates back at least 300 years, and it is the main thoroughfare of a small village community of ancient origin.
The surroundings of this rural settlement were fields and woodlands, and consequently the activities of the village were rurally based. Many of the properties were farms, one having a datestone of 1723. Spinning and weaving were carried on by hand in some of the cottages, whilst during the 18th century small-scale, textile-related mills were established for bleaching, dyeing, fulling and the making of fustian, a coarse twilled cloth.
During the 19th century however, when the Industrial Revolution took the textile industry out of cottages and into purpose-built mills, more power was available from the River Irk where water-driven mills were established about half a mile to the north, west and south of Crab Lane.
By the time coal became the principal energy source for textile mills, there had been a progressive move away from Crab Lane as a textile centre. The remaining cottages reverted to use as dwellings only, though a few still housed hand-loom weavers even as late as 1892. At that time there was just one surviving mill in the Lane, Nathaniel Whittaker's silk-dyeing works.