The developer behind the transformation of The Cotton Mill is hoping to find relatives of its longest serving employee, as well as more about the cultural history of Skipton’s Belle Vue Mills, which was at the heart of the town’s industrial revolution in the 1800’s.
The Cotton Mill, which is the final phase of the Belle Vue Mills development, will provide 39 high quality loft-style apartments. Work is well underway, and the first apartments are due for completion later this year. The Mills were once the largest employer in the town, and development company Rushbond is keen to find anyone with a connection to Walter Whitaker who worked there for 62 years between 1887 and 1949.
Georgina Maud from Rushbond, the award-winning Yorkshire based development company, says: “When we heard about Walter being the longest servicing employee – 62 years is such a remarkable length of time – we were really keen to get in touch will anybody with a connection to him.
“We have a lot of knowledge about the wonderful architectural history of these extraordinary collection of buildings but also have been building up a picture of their role in town’s social and cultural history. Located at the very heart of Skipton, these historical buildings and the people who lived and worked there played such a vital role in the story of Skipton. More than 100 years on, our plans are to ensure that The Cotton Mill will continue to be a place that people want to be a part of.
“The Mills symbolised the very best of craftsmanship, honest heritage, hard work and community spirit, providing a wonderful lifestyle for so many people. We hope through our careful restoration, we are not only breathing new life into these beautiful buildings, but also reconnecting with people associated with them, so we can share in and celebrate the vital role they played. As well as looking for Walter’s connections, we’re also keen to hear from anyone with old photographs and anecdotes from the Mill, and we’ll then look at how we can incorporate these into the development.”
Originally known as Dewhurst’s Mill, The Mill complex was one of 14 businesses that formed The English Sewing Cotton Co. Ltd. in 1897, being renowned in particular for the production of Sylko cotton.
Rachel Terry from Craven Museum says: “During the 19th century, many British mills had rather a reputation for being unhealthy places to work both for adults and children, but Dewhurst’s Mill was somewhat of an exception. It was a place that looked after its people, it was somewhere people could belong to and be happy in their work. The worker’s contributions and skills were much valued, and the Dewhurst family helped foster a true sense of community.
“Within the Museum there is a board that celebrates the longest serving employees of the Mill, dating from 1887 right through to 1978. Many of the people listed on it worked there for over 45 years. Walter Whitaker worked there the longest. It’s amazing to think that Walter spent over 60 working years at the same place!”
Tim Usherwood, director at Dacre, Son & Hartley, the firm marketing The Cotton Mill says: “Right across the road from the railway station, and in the very centre of town, there is nothing else quite like these apartments currently on the market. Overlooking the Leeds Liverpool Canal, and with an already established residential community rooted in the Mill’s textile history, we are already seeing great interest from those who want to be a part of the Cotton Mill in advance of scheme’s launch this month.”
The Cotton Mill is part of the Belle Vue Mills development which also includes Glista Mills, Eller House, and the recently completed McCarthy and Stone development, known as Mallory Court, which provide a mix of new and converted apartments as part of a vibrant mix of uses. For more information about the development please contact Dacre Son and Hartley’s Skipton Office on 01756 701010 or register interest at www.thecottonmill.co.uk.