THe North’s historic mills are disappearing fast, according to Historic England, in a report published today.
The report looks at the North West, although last year it looked at Yorkshire and it was telling a similar story.
And yet we love our mills, and see them as part of the nation’s heritage, story and character.
Salts Mill at Saltaire is one success story for the north (but that has world heritage status), Dean Clough Mills in Halifax now employs as many people in its various businesses (which range from restaurants and bars, to insurance companies, art studios, a theatre, hotel and gym) as it did in its Crossley Carpets heyday, when its products were shipped all over the world.
Here in Leeds we reported the impending sale of one of our historic mills, Temple Works, which is up for grabs for a £1 to someone who can give it a new lease of life, and there are some fine examples of mill conversions which have made highly desirable apartments.
We may love our heritage but can we expect the owners to foot the bill for maintaining and converting them to be modern, insulated, digitally up-to-date places in which to work, rest and play, when the industries for which they were erected have long gone?
Leeds should welcome more projects like Castleton Mills in Armley - some pump-priming investment wouldn’t go amiss. Leeds is already an attractive prospect for businesses to relocate to. If our USP were fantastic mill conversions - modern office spaces with an heritage twist - it would make us even more attractive.