How historic Gibson Mill in Hebden Bridge has become a model for green living 200 years after role in Industrial Revolution

Gibson Mill at Hardcastle Crags in Hebden Bridge. Photo: Simon Hulme. Technical details: Nikon D3S, 1/100 SEC, F6.3, 200 ISO.
Gibson Mill at Hardcastle Crags in Hebden Bridge. Photo: Simon Hulme. Technical details: Nikon D3S, 1/100 SEC, F6.3, 200 ISO.
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In its 200 year history, Gibson Mill has thrived in three different guises.

Situated in the West Yorkshire market town of Hebden Bridge, it started life in around 1800 as one of the first mills of the Industrial Revolution.

In 1833, it is noted that 21 employees were based there, working 72 hours per week and living in the adjacent workers’ cottage.

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Driven by a water wheel, for nine decades the mill produced cotton cloth as part of the county’s textile industry. By the turn of the 20th century that had come to an end and in the early 1900s, it instead began to be used as somewhat of an “entertainment emporium”.

Inside, it offered a dance hall, refreshments, dining saloons and a roller-skating rink and came to be loved by both the local community and visitors alike.

Today it is run as a visitor and education centre by the National Trust, who acquired the building in 1950, after it had fallen into disuse following the Second World War.

Set in the Hardcastle Crags valley, a landscape nicknamed “Little Switzerland” thanks to its unspoilt woodland, tumbling streams and spectacular waterfalls, it remains a popular beauty spot.

The site, with its stepping stones and picturesque bridge, has also become a romantic wedding destination, offering seasonal backdrops such as blankets of bluebells and golden Autumn leaves.

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Whilst its natural beauty is obvious to the naked eye, as this picture shows, what is less so is the extent to which the mill, with its cafe, shop and toilet facilities, is a model for green living.

The winner of numerous sustainability awards, the Grade II-Listed building was restored and transformed by the National Trust, making it 100% self-sufficient in energy, water and waste treatment.

It draws on the site’s natural resource including sunlight, spring water and wood, as well as its 1926 turbine and a log-burning stove, for hot water, electricity and heating.

Not only then does Gibson Mill form part of the town’s industrial history, and natural beauty, it has also become a source of inspiration for future sustainable development.