For sale: this fabulous conversion of a Calder Valley textile mill into a house is one of the best you'll see
Fortunately, freelance illustrator Louise Lockhart who trades as The Printed Peanut, and her husband Paul, a joiner, are anything but average and it’s thanks to the creative couple that Red Rose Mill in Todmorden is now enjoying a vibrant new life as two fabulous family-size homes.
The journey began when the couple returned to their roots in the Upper Calder Valley. House prices in Hebden Bridge, where the pair went to school, had started to rise and the town had become more touristy, while neighbouring Todmorden was more affordable and had a huge amount to offer.“We spotted the mill for sale in 2013 and we could see immediately how it could work as a home. Plus it is in a great spot close to the train station so you can be in central Manchester in half an hour and in Leeds within an hour,” says Louise.
“My parents had converted a mill in Hebden Bridge into a house years ago and so it wasn’t an alien concept for me and that’s what gave me the confidence to go for it.”
The stone-built property, constructed in 1901, was in a relatively good state as, when cotton was king, it had been used only for storing fabric.
Knowing it was too big and too expensive to convert into one home, Louise and Paul found another couple willing to go down the “Grand Designs” route and take on the other half of the mill, though Louise laughs at the thought of Kevin McCloud and his crew charting the journey, pointing out that he would’ve been exasperated at the time it took to fully complete the project.
It took a year to get planning permission and then they and the other couple paid for work on the roof, agreed on paint colours for the exterior window frames and hired builders to lay the foundations and build a wall to split the mill in two separate dwellings
“As soon as the mill was divided, we got on with our own thing and it took another four years for us to do the work on our half of the building because Paul did almost all of it himself, except for the plastering, tiling and the electrics,” says Louise.
All good things come to those who wait and Paul and Louise’s semi-detached mill conversion is up there with the very best. Everything from the layout, eco credentials, energy efficiency, craftsmanship and the interior design is exceptional thanks to painstaking attention to detail and a refusal to compromise.
That makes selling the property hard but Louise and Paul have been tempted by another exciting project. They and some friends are planning to move to Wales to buy a farm with scope for a glamping site and homes for themselves.
So now their half of Red Rose Mill is on the market with The Modern House for £335,000. “It’s been a wonderful, nurturing home for our family and it has all the charm of an old building but it’s a modern house,” says Louise.
The stone-built property is set over three floors and embraces the benefits of upside down living. Taking the building back to its original shell allowed the interiors to be fitted with high level thermal and acoustic insulation.The property also has an air source heat pump, a mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system and underfloor heating throughout, making it cosy and energy efficient.
The ground floor has a large lobby and plenty of room for storage. There’s also a shower room on this level plus a good-size utility room and a large studio where Louise works on her designs for The Printed Peanut.
Paul’s hand-crafted staircase spirals up into the middle floor where there are three bedrooms and a bathroom. Two of the bedrooms are large doubles and one is a single that makes clever use of the double-height ceiling to house a mezzanine sleeping platform.
The bathroom has bespoke oak cabinetry and the deep bathtub has beautiful views of the willow tree outside. The extra large living/dining/kitchen space on the top floor is light-filled thanks to large areas of glazing and there are views over the Stoodley Pike and to Todmorden’s impressive town hall.
This room has birch ply-clad ceilings and salvaged gym flooring complete with colourful court markings and the kitchen cabinetry, also made by Paul, is in birch ply and yellow Formica.
The rest of the top floor space is arranged into seating and dining areas and there are French doors leading onto a balcony with space for planters and a table and chairs and opposite, there are full-height sliding windows and a Juliet balcony.
The property is an exceptional home full of creativity, colour and thoughtful design, which makes leaving it behind difficult, though Louise and Paul are excited about embracing a new adventure and a new project.
She says: “We have loved living here and we are really pleased we chose to live in Todmorden. It feels like Hebden Bridge was 20 years ago before it got so busy with tourists.
“A lot of artists and makers are moving here because house prices and rents are a lot cheaper than in Hebden and the town has got everything you need, including the train station.”
For details of the sale contact The Modern House www.themodernhouse.com