Mills of the North

Textile mills are fundamental to the history, culture and landscape of the North of England. From Bolton to Blackburn, Bradford to Leeds, they were the workshop of the world. Sadly, the North’s historic mills are rapidly being lost.

45% of Greater Manchester’s historic mills have been destroyed since the 1980s and there have been over 100 fires at historic mills in Bradford alone since 2010.

But we know that people care. A YouGov poll tells us that 90% of adults believe mills are an important part of England’s heritage, story and character.

What future for historic mills?

Hundreds of mills across Lancashire, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire stand empty, underused and neglected. But they could be powerhouses for growth in the 21st century. The vacant space they contain could accommodate around 52,000 new homes or host 280,000 new jobs.

Successful conversions prove that mills can have new and exciting uses. Houses, offices, shops, restaurants, art galleries and even an NHS outpatients’ department are among many imaginative re-uses. 

These mills are ours. Those that still stand, stand for our history and our future. We believe they can inspire us, house us and employ us once more.

Pecket Well Mill viewed across a field of buttercups.
Pecket Well Mill near Hebden Bridge shows how mills can deliver attractive residential units © Historic England
View across Bradford showing a large historic mill building in flames in the middle distance.
Drummond Mill, Bradford, on fire in January 2016 © Tim Green via Flickr
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