Copyright 2022 © Ged Dodd

 aka PeaceHavens Project

 Click here for the terms
of free copy & share &
supporting your Project


Previous 6 <  page 7 > 8 Next


The PeaceHavens Project

Glasshouses Mill in Nidderdale






  The purpose of this page. Some of this mill's fields have been searched by Ged Dodd with no seals being found. They should be there. They eluded him. It is easy done. He walked through the minefield of Whinny Hill seal field in 2013 and found nothing. In 2014 he approached from the opposite direction and we now have 500 seals from that field. The obvious site for seals at Glasshouses Mill is adjacent to the mill in the flat field which is now the cricket pitch. He didn't do it.  The mill was used to produce flax, then hemp and latterly, rope. Local rumour has it that the mill supplied rope to the White Star Line and most notably, Glasshouses rope was used on the Titanic.

    By the 1700s Glasshouses Mill was a corn mill and when the local roads were turnpiked it allowed expansion to take place. In the early 19th century the Nidd Valley was discovered to be the ideal location for cotton and flax mills, and in 1812 part of the mill was leased for the spinning of ‘Tow’ – short fibres of flax and hemp. At this stage Glasshouses Mill was a two-story block parallel to the river and powered by two small water wheels fed by a ‘goit’ or mill race. The corn mill operated at night and the flax mill during the day to efficiently use the then un-dammed water. The flax mill expanded, and the corn mill declined and from 1836 to 1844 the East Wing and West Wing were built and extended to add offices, stores and a school room.

Glasshouses Mill was run by the Metcalfe family from 1828 onwards and was a prosperous business that employed hundreds of people. Running out of power for the machinery was a constant issue and so in 1850 the Metcalfe family bought and then excavated the Mill Pond. This had both functional uses and was ornamental, with the island at the centre being used for music and fireworks on important occasions such as the end of the Crimean War and the marriage of the Metcalfe’s daughter.



   A 120-horsepower water wheel, which was 25 feet in diameter, was installed by Fairburn Lawson of Manchester, to generate more reliable power. In 1856 a steam engine and turbine were added to the big 25ft diameter Fairburn water wheel, which had been installed in 1850. It was the most powerful in the country at that time and the outline of it can still be seen in the mill’s basement. The wheel went out of use when the mill line-shafting was electrified. It is now fully restored and can be viewed at the National Trust property at Quarry Bank Mills in Cheshire. In 1862 the mill buildings were enlarged to become three-storeys with a clock and bell, still present today, to summon people to work. The workforce had grown from 70 in 1833 to over 400 by 1871. Gas works started in 1864 which subsequently provided heat and light for the mill and the village. The mill owners, the Metcalfes, also built the reservoir at Blue Plain to bring drinking water to the village and water to the mill. The Metcalfes also paid for 50% of the railway, owned local quarries, breweries, shops and sponsored the local school. The family were said to be model employers and benefactors and they and Glasshouses Mill were very much the powerhouse of Upper Nidderdale until the end of the 19th Century.


 By 1899 business declined and the mill went into bankruptcy and closed in 1907. In 1912 it was bought by Frederick Atkinson, making tug ropes and hawsers for the Royal Navy and other large ships during the First World War and producing camouflage netting during the Second World War. It is said that the mill supplied rope used on the ill-fated Titanic. String and rope were made at the mill until the late 1960s when the war between East and West Pakistan made it difficult to get supplies of the necessary raw materials. In 1971 the Mill was bought by Chris Hawkesworth, primarily for his own water sport manufacturing requirements. The rest of the space was converted into offices and small commercial units for occupants making everything from curtains and soft furnishings to sails for boats and pieces of artwork. The mill flourished again and at its peak had 150 people employed there working with 30 different companies. But by the mid-1990s the mill was again in decline, with rents failing to keep up with the level of repairs needed. By 2000 it was clear Glasshouses Mill would become derelict without a radical change in direction. Fifteen years later permission to change the use was granted, allowing the mill to become predominantly residential, and in 2016 Newby started work on creating a very special place to live. Today the mill is a Grade II Listed building and remains a magnificent structure with many of its traditional features.

All the fields here could be seal fields

Click on the thumbnails




Previous 6 <  page 7 > 8 Next