From a real hive of industry to place of fun

Gibson Mill at Hardcastle Crags has had a chequered past, as a weaving shed, a place of recreation, a film set, and  more latterly as an eco-powered heritage centre
Gibson Mill at Hardcastle Crags has had a chequered past, as a weaving shed, a place of recreation, a film set, and more latterly as an eco-powered heritage centre
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Mr Trevor Moody of the National Trust spoke about Gibson Mill at Hardcastle Crags to the Cragg Vale branch of the Yorkshire Countrywomen’s Association.

He said that originally there were cottage industries at Greenwood Lee and Gibson Mill.

In 1861 steam power was installed, the Water Board contained the water running down to Hebden Bridge and a new road was built to enable coal to be brought to the mill, but sadly, in 1897 the mill was closed.

The years 1902 to 1950 was an entertainment phase for the mill. The cottages were rented out as holiday homes and cafes and restaurants. Chalets were built along the valley which served teas and the like.

During the entertainment phase Abraham Gibson built up an entertainment emporium with a pavilion for dancing.There were swing boats and the mill pond was used for boating. There was also roller skating in the weaving shed.

This attracted 500,000 people each year and according to records 8,000 arrived by train from Lancashire.

Sadly, the emporium closed in 1952. After that, the trust could not afford to keep the cottages and Greenwood Lee.

In 1956 the mill was leased to the Scouts for activities closed in 1973 for 11 years.

In 2002, ITV made a short film there when they completed a production of Charles Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby, the interior becoming Doetheboys Hall. From 2003 to 2005 £1.4 million was raised for its refurbishment.

Solar panels were put on the mill roof. The weaving shed was made into nthe Muddy Boots cafe and the furniture was made from oak and beech trees used in woodland management of the area.

Muriel Morgan thanked Mr Moody for a fascinating talk on local history.

A Macmillan coffee morning held at Jane and Rciahrd Redmond’s home raised £550, and thanks are given to all who supported the event.

June Mowbray won the competition, and supper was a Jacob’s Join.