Precious memories for great-granddaughter of Stonebridge Mills owner on visit to the Farnley redevelopment

It was an emotional day for one Leeds woman as she retraced her childhood with a special visit to her great-grandfather’s mill.

Barbara Farrar (left) and Georgina Maud of Rushbond PLC (right)
Barbara Farrar (left) and Georgina Maud of Rushbond PLC (right)

Barbara Farrar and her daughter Kate were given a VIP tour of the historic former Stonebridge Mills site in Farnley.

The mill, in Stonebridge Lane, was once owned by Barbara’s great-grandfather Andrew Mellish and then by her grandfather Alec Mellish, during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Stonebridge Mills played a key role in the development of Farnley and neighbouring Wortley, dating back to the early 1800s when the water-powered woollen mill was a focal point of the local community.

Barbara Farrar (left) and Georgina Maud of Rushbond PLC (right)

Despite being in some form of industrial use for around 150 years, the site was derelict for many years before being purchased by developers.

It is now being sympathetically redeveloped to provide homes in a natural heritage mill village setting for a new community of residents.

The tour of the tree lined site evoked fond memories for Barbara who visited regularly as a young girl, spending time with her Auntie Bunny and family who lived in one of the characterful worker’s cottages.

She remembers walking from her home in Armley across rhubarb fields which were a feature of the area in the period shortly after the Second World War.

A computer generated image which shows an aerial view of the full site

In the winter months she remembers skating on the frozen mill dam.

Barbara said: “I used to love my visits to Stonebridge Mills and returning after all these years has brought magical memories flooding back.

“It only feels like yesterday.

“I knew exactly where the cottage I used to visit was located and I also recall that one of the buildings on the same row was used as the clocking in and out office for the workers, all in their immaculate uniforms, proud of the place they worked.”

The Stonebridge Mills site was derelict for many years.

Barbara continued: “I am delighted this special place is being brought back to life and will soon be home to a brand new community.

“I can’t wait to return when all the work has been completed.”

Barbara was welcomed to Stonebridge Mills by Georgina Maud, of the developers Rushbond PLC.

Georgia said: “It was an absolute pleasure to meet Barbara. She was kind enough to share some lovely stories and clearly had a very happy childhood here. She also brought with her a family history which had been produced by another of her daughters and included some wonderful pictures.”

Rushbond’s £25m project will see the regeneration of the grade II listed and long derelict former mill buildings and cottages.

On completion the overall scheme will comprise of 112 two, three and four-bedroom restoration and new-build properties embedded in the nature.

A collection of conversion and new build homes will be available ranging from 2-5 bedrooms all offering high quality accommodation with private gardens and parking.

A particular and unusual feature of the conversion homes will be the spacious mill houses with fabulous high ceilings and huge windows providing superb natural light and views over the Stonebridge Beck and parkland.

The historic chimney and water tower are being retained along with many other original features.

This extensive 3.6 hectare site includes the former mill pond being brought back to life, providing a further link to the site’s industrial past.

There will also be a new specially commissioned piece of public art to be situated at the entrance to the development which will act as a visual icon for the building’s industrial heritage.

Jonathan Maud, on behalf of joint developers Rushbond and Advent Developments, said: “We have worked hard to design a thoughtful and sympathetic regeneration of this long-derelict and much-loved Leeds landmark.

“We know from our extensive consultations that the community are excited to see this project commence and we are committed to delivering a really high-quality scheme.”

Caddick Construction managing director Adrian Dobson said: “We are delighted to have started work on Stonebridge Mills and are helping to bring this site and historic buildings back to life as well as providing much-needed housing for the Farnley area.

"The site’s regeneration will also enable the green corridor along the Farnley Beck to be extended and run through the development which will be a huge bonus for the local community.”