A key building in the history of Hebden Bridge celebrates its 700th birthday with a party on Saturday - and everyone is invited!
And with an eye on Hebden’s reputation for being eco-aware, Hebden Bridge Mill, Bridge Gate, is well on the way to going through the 21st century as it did in the 14th, by creating all its energy from water power.
One of Britain’s oldest surviving water mills, built in 1314 when the Battle of Bannockburn was hot news, the mill has gone through a saga of ruin and regeneration and is now home to 12 small busnesses enabling 46 people to make their living there.
From medieval manorial corn mill to a beacon of eco energy, via a key role in the textile industry, the occasion will be a proud moment for owner David Fletcher, who saved the now English Heritage Grade II listed building from collapse and demolition in 1972.
“There was no external finance then, which made it a long haul, but above all, bringing water power back to the mill now means shopping, eating and working here doesn’t have to cost the earth. It’s back to the future.”
At 2.30pm on Saturday, September 6, Hebden Bridge Junior Band will get celebrations under way before the cutting of a birthday cake at 3.15pm, followed by some jazz stylings from Peace Artistes to ensure things go with a swing - and the afternoon wouldn’t be complete without a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’.
David said everyone was invited to come and take a look around, with 700 pieces of the cake set to be sliced and given away during the event - he says it was the mill that built the town, and ultimately the town that helped save the mill by supporting the businesses which are based there. Eco measures include LED bulbs reducing power demand by 90 per cent, a £140,000 Archimedes Screw providing eco electric energy and solar panels installed on the roof. A heat pump which takes heat from the river supplies plenty of hot water and heats the building. The water wheel was restored at the Millennium - it’s power soon to be fully reharnessed, bringing the mill full circle.