Project Description

Gayle Mill is an extraordinary survival of an intact evolution of industrial heritage over three centuries – in itself, evidence of sustainable rural economic resilience. It is a grade II* listed building and scheduled monument within a conservation area and Yorkshire Dales National Park, built in 1784 on the pattern of an Arkwright cotton mill, later textiles and then Victorian sawmill. Each incarnation set the pace, especially being in the vanguard of hydroelectric power. The mill’s claim to fame is its still-operational sum of the parts, notably its innovative turbines: one from 1878 is the oldest in the UK still working in its original installation. A second was added in the early twentieth century for streetlighting. Cultura added a third turbine to generate hydroelectric power and installed a biomass boiler, thus the raw power of renewable energy is its heartbeat. In the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Cultura is developing the mill as a model of a circular economy. With funding from the Peter Sowerby Foundation, ‘animateur’ Stuart Parsons is bringing the site to life through tours, events and local craft activities. Our next step is to extend the mill’s sustainability credentials into the biodiversity of the landscape using the adjacent field, establishing a hay meadow and floodplain habitats.