My ways and By-ways – Old Colne Valley mills in pictures – Upper Mills

Sneaking about old mill buildings with my camera, what fun! This is the first in a series of pictorial posts to celebrate the rebirth or ruin of these once thriving bastions of industry, employers of thousands, and churners out of yarn, woollens and worsted.

My first mill-in-focus is the mill down the road from me, Upper Mills in Slaithwaite. A canalside mill complete with chimney, these buildings are still a part of village life. Upper Mills was constructed at the end of the 1800’s as a fulling and scribbling mill. Fulling is the process of making felted cloth by bashing woollen cloth in tanks of warm, soapy water, while scribbling prepares the wool for spinning, and includes the process of carding which separates the fibres between two combs.

My auntie was employed at Upper Mills in the 1980’s. Once, I went to meet her from work, and in order to navigate the various corridors and corners, and doorways hung with heavy clear plastic flaps, was instructed to ‘Foller t’dog’. Meg the border collie knew exactly where to go, and led me right up to a room filled with mending tables, where workers checked large woollen pieces for faults, and corrected them.

Today, the mill buildings are home to several small business units, including Empire Breweries, Slawit’s own micro-brewery.


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