Its name, Little Mill, is a clue to the heritage of this historic home but while most conversions retain little beyond their stone shell, this one is packed with a host of original industrial features.The most remarkable is the huge water wheel, which is a splendid reminder of the property’s past life as a rope mill powered by the adjoining beck.Owners Margaret and John Clapperton have made a feature of it by encasing it in glass and enjoy its striking presence in their hallway. Visitors marvel at its magnificence and the fact it has managed to survive so long without some over-enthusiastic “do-er upper” removing it.
The water wheel now encased in glass
The mill, which is not a listed building, was constructed in 1810 as a flax mill before switching to rope manufacturing in 1840. It was converted into a dwelling in 1947 when the owner decided to leave the wheel in situ along with many other rope-making remnants including cogs and part of the shaft fixings. They add to the immense character and charm of the building and helped persuade the Clapperton’s to buy the property 11 years ago.
The rear of the mill with first floor balcony
The location, in the idyllic hamlet of Smelthouses, near Pateley Bridge, also played a big part in their decision, and it’s why they are sad at putting up the “For Sale” sign on their home.The property is on the market with Dacre, Son and Hartley for £800,000 as the couple are downsizing to move closer to their family in Harrogate.“When we first saw the inside Little Mill, it looked like a themed pub with red carpets and curtains but I could see what it could be like if we did some work on it and redecorated,” says Margaret, a gifted artist, who finds it easy to visualise.
Both she and John were bowled over by the rural, waterside setting, which is just three miles from Pateley Bridge with a regular bus service there and to the schools in HarrogateThe people who originally converted it lived on the first floor of the former mill and largely ignored what they saw as the gloomy ground floor.A dentist, who bought the property in 1961, spotted the potential immediately and converted a large section of the bottom floor into a kitchen/dining room, hall and utility room.
The kitchen with bespoke units made by a local craftsman and oak flooring salvaged from Woolworths in Harrogate
The flooring is also his legacy. It is robust American oak and was salvaged from Woolworths in Harrogate following a fire at the store.John and Margaret, who moved from the south to be closer to their children and grandchildren, have also invested heavily in the building. The first job was to properly enclose the 16ft diameter wheel with double glazing, which protects it and prevents draughts.
The old workshop/garage was converted into a light-filled, dual aspect sitting room
One of the biggest projects was converting an old ground floor workshop/garage into a large, dual aspect sitting room with underfloor heating and upgrading the utility room, cloakroom and boiler room, which has a wood pellet boiler. They also replaced every window in the property - there are well over 20 - with new frames and glazing.The wiring and plumbing was updated and they transformed the kitchen with bespoke, handmade cabinets and a cosy wood-burning stove for the inglenook. “There was an old range, which we wanted to save, but it was beyond repair and had a sign on it saying: ‘do not use’ so it had to go,” says John.
Artist at work
The second sitting room on the first floor is used as an art studio and office
On the first floor, what was a sitting room with a south-facing terrace is now a spacious office/artist studio, which is full of Margaret’s work.She is an artist and former art teacher and her studio is on the Nidd Art Trail. The couple are originally from the North East so Newcastle and its bridges feature heavily in her work, as does Northumberland and, of course, Nidderdale.“The area has a lot of artists and makers because it is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,” says Margaret, who is also a gifted seamstress and made all the curtains in the house.Also on the first floor is a master bedroom with en-suite shower room, three further bedrooms with south-facing views and a house bathroom.
One of the bedrooms
Outside, the Clappertons have laid new drive and extended the patio. The enormous garden, which features a pond, stream and the rope walk, has been a long-term project and patience and hard work has paid off.The pond and the beck that runs alongside the house are fenced to make the areas safe for their grandchildren and John has planted fruit trees and bushes, which means an abundance of raspberries, loganberries, plums, apples, greengage, damsons and gooseberries. There is also a huge lawn and a wild flower garden.“We are really sad to leave. But we are in our 77th year and feel we should move somewhere smaller and much closer to our daughter while we can still make that decision ourselves,” says John.
Popular Pateley Bridge
The sale is an opportunity for others who want to make their home in this part of Yorkshire, which has become very popular, partly thanks to winning Britain’s Best High Street and being on the Tour de Yorkshire route.Its wealth of amenities, including good independent shops, a park, pool and gym and good road links, also appeal to buyers.Estate agent Chris O’Mahony of Dacre, Son and Hartley says: “Pateley Bridge and the surrounding villages used to be considered too far out until people realised that it’s only a 15 minute drive from Ripon and 25 minutes from Harrogate.“It’s also quicker to get to Leeds from here than it is from Harrogate, which is more congested, and that has driven sales.”House prices in the area, which have risen about two per cent over the past year, start from £160,000 for a two-bedroom terraced home.