Aside from being an attractive stop off for those ambling through the beautiful wooded acres of Hardcastle Crags, Gibson Mill – or Lorde Holme Mill, to give it its formal title – marks a tremendously significant site in the history of the Yorkshire Pennines. If its walls could talk, they would undoubtedly have a few tales to tell.
Beginning life in the 1800s, just as the Industrial Revolution was cutting its teeth on transforming the world, the building was poised to play a greater part in the growing textile trade than its original owner, Abraham Gibson, could ever have imagined. It was, in fact, his ambitious son that first set the site to task, utilising the natural resources at his disposal, to develop it into a full scale working cotton cloth mill.
The Gibson operation continued into the 20th Century, and after the weaving business wore thin, the building was transformed into an entertainment retreat for individuals seeking distraction. In the 1930s and 40s, it came to be known affectionately as ‘Little Switzerland’ as hundreds flocked to the site to partake in leisurely pursuits ranging from boating on the millpond to rollerskating in a purpose built rink, though the dancehall always remained its most popular draw.
These days, Gibson Mill is still making waves as The National Trust’s flagship sustainable property and has clearly taken inspiration from both of its former incarnations. The water wheel and surrounding environmental assets provide the majority of power to the complex which has, in turn, become an interactive centre for visiting families looking to explore the area’s past and the people who featured in it.
A singularly special place, sitting just a few miles from the charismatic community of Hebden Bridge, it has challenging walks around the crags for those in need of fresh country air. If you’re not hungry for a hike, we hear the fairtrade tea and cakes in the café are equally as tempting.