Gibson Mill

A view of Gibson Mill through autumn trees at Hardcastle Crags

Discover the changing history of Gibson Mill, which has sat at the heart of this stunning landscape since 1800. Today, the mill is totally off the grid and houses our Weaving Shed café as well as two exciting exhibitions that tell some of the stories of Hardcastle Crags.

The history of Gibson Mill

Built around 1800, Gibson Mill was one of the first mills of the Industrial Revolution, producing cotton cloth up until 1890.  

In the early 1900s, Gibson Mill began to be used as an ‘entertainment emporium’ for the local people. It offered dining saloons, a dance hall, a roller-skating rink as well as a refreshment kiosk. This was the start of the mill’s journey of becoming a place of fun and relaxation, for the local community and visitors to the area.

After the Second World War, the mill sadly slipped into misuse, until it was saved by the National Trust in 1950.

Now, over 200 years since it was first built, it stands as one of the National Trust’s flagship sustainable places that is completely off the grid.

On a visit to Gibson Mill today you can visit two exhibitions, telling some of the stories of this fascinating place. The mill is also home to the Weaving Shed café, which serves up a range of tasty treats for you to enjoy outdoors.

Discover two exciting exhibitions in Gibson Mill
A sign showing exhibitions are now open at Gibson Mill, Hardcastle Crags
Discover two exciting exhibitions in Gibson Mill

“Slow the flow” exhibition

Discover how we’re working together with our community partner Slow The Flow to manage the water flowing through Hardcastle Crags, using natural techniques to reduce the impact of this water on our downstream neighbours.

The exhibition, found on the bottom floor of the mill, tells the story of the Slow The Flow project and the ways we’re working with the woodland to manage flooding in the lower Calder Valley. From building leaky dams to thinning areas of woodland, see how the project is helping local communities as well as providing thriving habitats for our resident wildlife.

Find out about our Slow The Flow partnership
A snapshot of the Slow The Flow exhibition inside Gibson Mill
Find out about our Slow The Flow partnership

“Footfall” exhibition

On the middle floor of the mill you’ll find our “Footfall” exhibition. Footfall marks the 2019 50th anniversary of a successful campaign to preserve Hardcastle Crags from a plan to construct a reservoir on this historic site.  

The exhibition celebrates the tenacity and determination of the local people who came together and campaigned against the reservoir, saving Hardcastle Crags for future generations.

Discover how the local community came together to save Hardcastle Crags in the "Footfall" exhibition
Banners from the Footfall exhibition at Hardcastle Crags
Discover how the local community came together to save Hardcastle Crags in the "Footfall" exhibition

Off the Grid

On a visit to Gibson Mill you’ll also see evidence of how a pioneering project led to the building becoming the first fully sustainable place cared for by the National Trust.

Gibson Mill has operated completely off-grid for more than 10 years now and is fully self-sufficient. All energy used is generated onsite, the water supply comes direct from the natural spring water in Hardcastle Crags and we treat all our own waste. 

Harnessing the power of nature, and being careful with our energy use, means we can keep Hardcastle Crags special forever.

Gibson Mill today

As well as telling the story of the history of this special place, Gibson Mill is now home to the Weaving Shed café.

It’s also starting a new chapter in its history as a sustainable wedding venue, providing a beautiful backdrop for couples who wish to tie the knot surrounded by nature.

Click the links below to find out more about what to expect on a visit to the café or how to start planning your special day at the heart of this ancient woodland.