Now a study is being launched to see how the county’s textile mills can be brought back into use.
Salts Mill in Saltaire and Dean Clough, in Halifax, are examples of famous old buildings being revived. Now Historic England, formerly English Heritage, want to learn lessons from these success stories and see what can be done elsewhere. The report, to be published next year, aims to come up with solutions for a selection of important mills - especially those on the Heritage at Risk Register.
Tammy Whitaker, planning and conservation director for Yorkshire, said: “We want to work with owners and local authorities to bring these buildings, many on our Heritage at Risk register, back in use. They were at the centre of the industrial revolution and by converting them into homes and businesses, they can once again help drive the 21st Century Northern Powerhouse.”
One example is Temple Mill in Leeds, a Grade I listed building. The main spinning mill has structural issues but there are now plans for it to become a leading cultural venue.
Duncan Wilson, the new chief executive of Historic England and Sir Laurie Magnus its chairman came to Leeds to present plans for Yorkshire in the year ahead.
They also saw first hand the plans for Temple Works.
Built in an Egyptian style and once housing the largest room in the world it is one of the most unusual and instantly recognisable textile mills in Yorkshire. Parts of the building are used as an arts venue but the main spinning mill has serious structural issues.
Historic England, formerly English Heritage, is working with developer Citu and Leeds City Council on an plan for it to be a cultural venue at the heart of a residential and commercial development.
Mr Wilson said: “This is a new era for Yorkshire’s heritage and Historic England is committed to working with local communities, owners and partners to ensure this heritage is valued and protected. From Yorkshire’s special historic buildings to those that form the backdrop to everyday life, this heritage is the physical embodiment of the past and the legacy that together we shall carry into the future.”
Ms Whitaker highlighted Prospect Mills in Thornton and part of the Lister Mills site in Bradford as areas where Historic England is looking to find solutions to bring buildings back into use.
Two of the main buildings at Lister Mills were converted into flats before the credit crunch and subsequent recession.