Gibson Mill circa 1910. "Tea rooms and dancing room"
Hebden Bridge Local History Society
The mill is first mentioned in an advertisement in 1805, ‘the capital factory to let on River Hebden, near Greenwood Lee, lately erected by Abraham Gibson junior, dec’d., plus two houses at the factory.’ The mill was three storeys high with a new waterwheel 16’ x6’ ‘supplied with water without a dam’, the ‘situation commodious and neighbourhood populous, and not any factory near.’
Some items were not in the mill but at the house, ‘For sale at Greenwood Lee, a good waterwheel about two years old, 24’ x18’’… a double carding engine, a billey and picker’. It was quite common in this period to find this kind of machinery, used for preparing cotton, in houses, but these were taken out when cotton mills were built along rivers like the Hebden.
Abraham Gibson junior died when he fell from his horse, and the mill was advertised shortly afterwards. It seems that the mill was not let, but that other members of the family continued running the business. When Samuel Crompton compiled his survey of cotton mills in 1811 he gave the number of throstle spindles as 720 at ‘Greenwood Lee at Hepton’.
In 1832 the mill was let to James Gaukroger and his brother Titus, who employed 21 people and were working the mill at night as well as in the daytime. In 1840 they renewed the lease of the mill together with newly erected loom shop, other buildings and four cottages, for an annual rent of £112. The lease mentions payment for land on which a new reservoir, weir, and goit have ‘lately been made’. In 1852 tea for workers was provided at the Cross Inn, Heptonstall to celebrate the laying down of a new steam engine. The Gaukroger’s tenancy came to an end the following year when they went bankrupt and were selling machinery including 57 fustian power looms.
From about 1860 the Gibsons once again took over the mill themselves; another Abraham and his brother John continued to run the business until the 1880s. The name Lord Holme was often used for this mill in the 19th century; for example, a newspaper reported in 1879 there were 113 looms at Lord Holme Mill. For a time the mill was working only 3 days a week, but a new half timer, Sam Marshall, of New Houses was taken on when he was 13 in 1887. Eventually the Gibsons found an alternative use for it as an entertainment emporium with this included boating on the dam, dance hall, restaurant, roller skating rink – number or people attending. Whit week 1892?
The Electrical Review in 1935 reported on the hydro electric plant at Lord Holme, installed in 1931, operated either from the mill or the house. ‘A local supply is given to the restaurant, but the bulk of energy is conveyed by overhead lines to Mr Gibson’s house at Greenwood Lee.’
The Francis turbine, manufactured by Gilbert Gilkes & Gordon Ltd, is once again being used to provide electricity and can be seen on a visit to the mill.
The mill is now in the ownership of the National Trust.