Stray from the village streets, past private gates and down into the woodland, and you will find yourself walking along the steep banks of a small picturesque river. As you carefully navigate the overgrown undergrowth, following what may have once been a path, you notice something through a break in the trees – something contrasting sharply against the bright green of the summer leaves.There is grey brickwork, almost entirely engulfed by bushes, weeds and trees. One would easily assume it was a stone cliff on the opposite side of the bank if one were not keeping a very careful lookout for just such a building.
As your eyes slowly adjust to what you’re looking at, you make out details; the remains of the roof, a badly damaged water wheel. However, one thing you do not see is a bridge allowing access to the, otherwise isolated structure across the water. Crossing to the other side was a small adventure in itself and once across we fought through the tangle of thorns bushes and tree branches to make our way inside.
Once inside we were astounded by the unassuming building’s contents. Despite broken windows and whole sections of roof missing, the looms and even the rolls of bright, colourful wool were extremely well-preserved. For once, thanks in large part to the hidden remoteness of the mill, we were not faced with a single spray of graffiti. No empty cans of lager, no crisp packets or cigarette boxes. Instead we were met with a centuries-old cotton mill left to slowly decay undisturbed over the decades since it was closed.
The black & white images are used with kind permission from copyright-holder – The Hughes Archive.