Monday, 11 August 2014
It's rarely pretty but I'm always fascinated by our industrial heritage. Thwaite Mills, on the outskirts of Leeds, has been on my 'must visit' list for a while and I finally managed a trip there. It is one of the last remaining examples of a water-powered mill in Britain. Now managed as a museum by Leeds City Council, it sits on an island between the River Aire and the Aire & Calder Navigation. The river provides the water to power the machinery and the Navigation (a waterway that goes all the way to the North Sea coast as well as linking in with Britain's canal network) formed an important route for shipping raw materials in and goods out. They used tub boats, trains of tubs towed by a tug, which were called Tom Puddings (perhaps because the buckets when loaded with coal looked like the local sausage known as 'black pudding').
I find it interesting that all the 19th century mills round where I live are built of stone, notably Salts Mill itself. But in Leeds, only about ten miles away, they are nearly all red brick. I have to confess I find the mellow stone ones more attractive, though there is a certain beauty in all the different tones of the old bricks.