Wednesday, 11 April 2018
Now and then
It finally closed as a mill in 1902 but was almost immediately reopened as a restaurant. During the previous decade the wooded valley, full of waterfalls and picnic spots, had became a tourist attraction and various small pavilions had opened, serving refreshments to cater to the weekend visitors from the nearby industrial towns. The mill became an 'entertainment emporium', with first and second class (!) restaurants, a dance floor and later a roller skating rink. At its height in the 1920s, the area was attracting 500,000 visitors a year. People were transported from Hebden Bridge railway station in open carriages called wagonettes that could transport 25 people at once, pulled by teams of four horses. The last owner left the mill and the estate to the National Trust, on his death in 1956.
You can see from the photos that superficially the Mill is still very similar to what it looked like in the early 1900s. It is, however, now one of the NT's flagship sustainable enterprises. Apart from a telephone link, it is completely 'off-grid', generating electricity from a water turbine and photo-voltaic panels, heating from a bio-mass boiler and having composting toilets.
(Old photos are taken from the display panels around the mill. Hope nobody objects!)