Higherford Mill, Barrowford, Lancashire – A Regency Water-Powered Mill

Higherford Mill was built by Christopher Grimshaw as a spinning mill in 1824, close to water to harness it for powering the spinning machines and weaving looms which he added shortly afterwards. The main weaving shed has since become the oldest surviving in the world. Water was taken from the river from a weir, half a mile upstream, and channelled to a mill dam or lodge, and then through sluices into the rear of the Mill, onto a breast-shot waterwheel.

In 1832 steam power was introduced to supplement the water power and the square stone chimney was built, with a flue running up the hillside to carry the smoke away. The mill continued to use water power in conjunction with steam power until the late 19th century. The combination is rare, and was one of the reasons why the building was spot listed in 1996.

The Mill ceased production in 1971 and was sold. The new owner converted part of the Mill to workspace units and the rest became derelict. In December 1994 an application was submitted for consent to demolish the Mill, on the grounds that it was unsafe and full of dry rot, and planning permission to build 24 houses on the site. Villagers and Heritage Trust for the North West objected and after a five year campaign, the Trust purchased the Mill with a loan from the Architectural Heritage Fund, in 1999.

As a registered Building Preservation Trust, the Trust aims to find appropriate and sustainable new uses for old buildings. Higherford Mill has since become a focal point for the Creative Industries of East Lancashire. Workshops have been constructed in the old weaving sheds, providing much needed facilities for artists, and opportunities for employment in the village. Rents from the studios pay for the upkeep of the Mill.

The project is being done in phases: Phase I (complete) involved structural repairs and construction of 10 workshops. Phase II provided a further 24 units and reception facilities. Phase III (when funds are raised) will involve the conversion of abandoned areas to visitor facilities, an art gallery, educational resource centre, restoring the waterwheel, and historic mill races. Higherford Mill featured in the BBC Restoration Series in 2006.

Picture shows: Higherford Mill, Lancashire TX: BBC TWO Friday 13 September 2006 Built originally in 1824, and modernised after a serious fire 20 years later, Higherford Mill embodies the development of the cotton industry, from its water-powered days through to steam and eventually electricity. Now Grade II listed, it provided employment and led to the development of the village. After it finally closed in 1969 it was threatened with demolition. The water wheel was removed, but the site and water courses remain and it is likely to become a major attraction in an area which now relies heavily on heritage tourism to sustain its economy. Villagers, led by Heritage Trust for the North West, hope the mill will become a centre for creative enterprises, with workshops, exhibitions and special events, as well as being a community focus for local people. WARNING: Use of this copyright image is subject to Terms of Use of BBC Digital Picture Service. In particular, this image may only be used during the publicity period for the purpose of publicising RESTORATION VILLAGE and provided BBC is credited. Any use of this image on the internet or for any other purpose whatsoever, including advertising or other commercial uses, requires the prior written approval of the BBC.