Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:


© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2020. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1391973.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 02-Jul-2020 at 12:59:58.


Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Yorkshire
Harrogate (District Authority)
High and Low Bishopside
National Grid Reference:



1435/0/10022 21-MAY-07



Former flax and hemp mill, 1812-14, with numerous additions and alterations throughout C19 and C20, various architects including Perkin & Backhouse and W R Corson. The mill is built of coursed dressed sandstone with some ashlar quoins and dressings.

PLAN FORM: the main block consists of a north-facing horseshoe of mill buildings round a central courtyard, with several attached and detached subsidiary buildings to the south, east and north-east. The River Nidd runs to the south and a goit runs from west to east beneath the southern parts of the main mill building. The central range, which incorporates the oldest part of the mill, is 12 bays long, the west wing has nine bays plus a further six to the north, and the east wing has 15 bays plus a further extension to the north. A tower extension to the centre of the central range is three bays deep. The main building incorporates the areas used for the processing and spinning of the flax as well as offices and boiler house, while various sheds, stores, turbine houses, engine house, joiners shop, and water wheel house were attached on the east and south sides. Some of these have been lost. A warehouse, stables, coal depots and a Dutch barn stand close by to the north-east.

EXTERIORS: The majority of the main block has three storeys, with a basement floor to the south where the ground falls away towards the river, and two storeys only at the northern end of both the east and west wing.

The central tower block in the main range has an original panelled door flanked by a window to either side, and two floors above each with two windows. The left hand ground floor window is altered, the rest are 12 or 16 paned. Above in the gable end is a large clock with a bell tower above. To each side are three floors of three windows all with small-paned frames. There is a string course at first floor, prominent kneelers and a slate roof. To each side of the tower block are three windows in the central range, those at second floor being smaller than the lower ones. The slate roof continues to join the east wing roof, while the west wing has a partially stone slate roof. The south elevation of the central range has 14 windows, the left hand four of which are in the gable end of the west wing, with a further four windows in the gable end of the east wing which breaks forward from the rest. There is a mixture of original and C20 glazing. To the right hand half of the elevation is a single storey extension at basement level with a side entrance and a concrete tiled roof . This building continues round the side of the east wing.

The internal (east facing) elevation of the west wing has two sections, with seven windows in each. The southern section has altered windows on the ground and first floors, and original small-paned windows on the second floor. The northern section, a former boiler house, is a separate build, with a central former entrance approached from a flight of steps, to the left of which is a basement floor but to the right are only two floors. There is a mix of windows, and a second entrance to the right. The upper floor at the right hand end has a doorway (possibly once reached by external steps), flanked by round-arched windows with very small panes. The slate roof has prominent and elaborate kneelers and there is a chimney stack at either end. A blocked arched carriage entrance pierces the left hand end of this section, visible on the external elevation.

The east wing is stepped up the slope, with 10 windows and three floors facing into the courtyard at the southern end, with a first floor entrance approached from an external staircase at the left hand end of this block. The northern section of the east wing, which is largely two storey with arched entrances to a basement, has 6 windows on the upper floor, formerly a drying room over the boiler house, and several ground floor entrances. The glazing is mixed but largely 2-over-2 horned sashes. The gable end of the wing has three windows on each floor and a single attic window.

To the rear of the east wing are several attached buildings. The northernmost of these is a large shed of corrugated iron, with an entrance on its north-facing gable end and a vehicular entrance and windows on its east side, dating to the late C20. An extension to the south incorporates the base of a former stone-built mechanics store, with windows on two floors in the corrugated iron upper part. To the south is a stone built former pug mill or mortar mill, with a vehicle entrance to the right with a rounded outer jamb. An upper floor has two windows and a door in a largely timber front supported on an iron bracket. A former mechanics shop stands to the south and west of the pug mill, and is attached to the rear of the east wing. This is a single storey stone built construction having a slate roof with lantern lights on both sides. At the base on the south side is the top of a wide arch which formerly housed a water wheel. The wheel house itself has been demolished and the wheel moved elsewhere.

To the north-east of the east wing is a warehouse in stone with a hipped slate roof. A central arched cart entrance with narrow round-arched side windows is set in a projecting gable with four segmental arched windows to the left, one altered, and two to the right with an inserted vehicle entrance at the right hand end. The right return has a central door in an ashlar surround with a three-centred arch, with a blocked window to either side. To the rear are eleven blocked windows.

To the east of the warehouse is a small stable block in stone with a hipped slate roof, forming an uneven V shape. It has one original window and ashlar jambs on one side of two original openings and other altered openings on one side, and is open on the other side with three pillars. Adjoining the back of the stables are the remains of a stone-built coal depot consisting of truncated stone cross walls.

INTERIORS: The tower block in the central range of the old mill has offices on the upper floors leading off an original stone staircase. The ground floor of the central range is partitioned and has a stone slab floor concealed by concrete, and exposed ceiling beams with some cast iron columns. The first floor is open, with a timber floor and iron and timber beamed ceiling supported by occasional cast iron columns. The second floor is open to the roof structure which is a king post construction with supporting posts and braces to the external walls. The basement to the south has a fireproofed vaulted ceiling supported by cast iron columns. The section extending to the south contains a surviving turbine, visible through a glass plate in the stone flagged floor. Other partitions and features in this section are mainly modern.

The southern part of the west wing has a small basement area to the south of the mill goit with vaulted ceiling. The ground floor is partially sub-divided and the ceiling is supported by a central row of cast iron columns. These are repeated on the first floor which to the north becomes the ground floor as the ground rises. The second floor is open to the roof structure which is a king post construction with supporting posts and braces to the external walls. The ground floor in the northern part has a timber staircase in the area of the blocked carriage entrance at its southern end, and the partitioned northern part, which is a former schoolhouse, has an office with moulded architraves and cornices. There are two surviving fireplaces with plain stone surrounds, one blocked.

The southern part of the east wing is similar to the west, with an off-centre row of cast iron columns on the first floor and the roof structure an A-frame with heavy wooden uprights and the floor stone flagged with some timber runs associated with the later use of the mill as a rope factory. The northern part of the east wing, the former boiler house with drying room above, has a cast iron grid floor over the basement,, and cast iron columns in basement and ground floor. The first floor is partitioned, and there is an attic floor open to the roof structure. The warehouse is largely single storey with a mezzanine floor to the eastern end and some breeze-block partitions. The remaining buildings are not believed to contain any significant interior features.

SETTING: the mill is set on the north side of the River Nidd, with a leat or goit running off a large reservoir upstream, to the mill and under its southern extent, emerging on the east side of the building. The ground slopes up quite steeply to the north, where the village of Glasshouses sits. The settlement was established in order to serve the mill, and a manager's house, school, chapel and several terraces of houses were built nearby.

HISTORY: The flax mill at Glasshouses was established in 1812 or 1814, on the site of a former water corn mill. The end of the C18 and the beginning of the C19 saw the establishment of a series of textile mills in the Nidd and Washburn valleys, initially cotton and a little later flax spinning. Nidderdale was the centre of flax and linen production in Yorkshire in the early nineteenth century but was challenged by Leeds later in the century and eventually declined, with many mills turning to rope making.

It is not entirely clear whether new buildings were established from the beginning, though the size of the oldest part would indicate that the former mill buildings were replaced. The earliest surviving part of the mill is the central range (Old Mill), though there has been considerable rebuilding of much of the structure. By 1828 the Metcalfe family, who had been established in the flax industry for some time, took over the mill and ran it until the end of the C19.

In the 1830's the original east wing was rebuilt and the west wing added, and a second water wheel introduced, during a period of boom in the industry. In 1849 the OS map shows the west wing to be longer than the east at that time. Between 1851 and 1857 the basement of the Old Mill and the east wing was fireproofed with the insertion of cast iron beams and stone vaulting. In 1851 a further water wheel, supplied by William Fairbairn of Manchester, was installed in a new wheelhouse (now demolished), which drove an upright shaft in the east wing. At the same time, a large reservoir was created between the mill and the River Nidd.

In 1852 the warehouse and stables were built on the north side of the site, and in 1857 an engine house was built to house a steam engine also provided by Fairbairn housed in an engine house on the south side of the Old Mill. A boiler house was added to the north end of the east wing at the same time. Later, in 1868 and 1871, turbines were installed in a turbine house to the west of the engine house.

Coal was brought to the mill by rail after 1862 when a branch of the Nidd Valley railway running to the mill was opened, and coal depots built on the back of the stable block. The tower block designed by W R Corson was also built in 1862 at the front of the Old Mill.

In 1864 a gasworks was constructed to the east of the mill, with new buildings constructed in 1869: these are now all demolished. A new chimney, replacing an earlier one, was built in 1866-7: this is also now gone. In 1877-8 a new boiler house was constructed, with drying floors over and an economiser to the side, and joiners and painters shops were also added.

Linen yarn was spun at Glasshouses until 1898, much later than most other Nidderdale mills which had turned to hemp and tow spinning owing to the slump in linen yarn prices. The Metcalfe family sold the business which was run as a rope and twine making concern until 1972. Since 1988 the wheelhouse, chimney, economiser and stone-breaker house have been demolished. The remaining buildings are now in various commercial uses.

SOURCES: Colum Giles, Ian Goodall: Glasshouses Mill, High and Low Bishopside, North Yorkshire (1988), RCHM Colum Giles, Ian Goodall: Yorkshire Textile Mills (1992), 3-15, 60, 61, 131-2, 173-5, 208 BDP: Glasshouses Mill, Assessment of Condition & Re-use Proposals (2004) SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE Glasshouses Mill is a former flax mill, and is the most complete example of its type in the flax spinning area of Nidderdale, which was in turn a component of the nationally significant textile industry of Yorkshire throughout the nineteenth century.

Glasshouses possesses evidence of original processes and functions, contextual value and intactness. It is additionally significant as a well-preserved example of the regionally specialised flax spinning and linen and hemp production industry. The associated warehouse and stables, as well as the attached buildings to the sides of the main block, are also of interest, though some, such as the mechanics store, are altered and fragmentary.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Giles, C, Goodall, I, Glasshouses Mill, High and Low Bishopside, North Yorkshire, (1988)
Giles, C, Goodall, I, Yorkshire Textile Mills The Buildings of the Yorkshire Textile Industry 1770-1930, (1992), 3-15,60,61


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].