Gibson Mill 10 years #OffTheGrid.

Hardcastle Crags, view over the bridge to Gibson Mill

Gibson Mill at the heart of Hardcastle Crags celebrates 10 years #OffTheGrid. Read on to find out just what that means and how we manage it.

Gibson Mill is situated on a remote site within Hardcastle Crags near to Hebden
Bridge. Built in around 1800, it was one of the first mills of the Industrial Revolution.
The addition of the weaving shed in 1840 led to the production of cotton cloth until
1890. At the turn of the century, it started a new life as an Entertainment Emporium
with roller skating and tea dances until 1940 when it fell into ruin. The National Trust
acquired it in 1950.

Ten years ago, the restoration of Gibson Mill began as a means to create a fully
sustainable 'Off the Grid' building, offering a cafe facility and visitor centre telling the
story of the history of the mill and surrounding area. It has operated since then
without a connection to the outside world for energy, water and waste: it is the
National Trust's only property which is 100% renewable.

Gibson Mill at Hardcastle Crags, as Gibson Mill was being redeveloped over 10 years ago.
A view of Gibson Mill, Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire, across the derelict much silted lower mill pond

Due to its remote location at the heart of Hardcastle Crags, an area of beautiful
woodland, the development of the mill was based on making the best use of the
available resources, and was a conscious decision to enhance the natural
surroundings which are enjoyed by thousands of walkers and families throughout
the year.

Gibson Mill Courtyard showing photovoltaic panels
Gibson Mill Courtyard showing photovoltaic panels

100% of the energy is generated by water turbines and photovoltaic panels on the
roof with no mains connection.

Water powered turbines at Gibson Mill, Hardcastle Crags
Water Turbines at Gibson Mill, Hardcastle Crags

This presents its own challenges: there are times
when river levels are low or there is insufficient sunlight to provide the necessary
power to run the cafe. Without a connection to the National Grid, the generated
energy is stored in batteries and the usage monitored carefully.

Newly installed signage, including information printed directly onto the cafe tables,
is designed to share with visitors how the mill operates and give them a greater
understanding of what is really means to be 100% renewable.

As well as generating 100% of its own power, the water at Gibson Mill is naturally
filtered spring water which is heated for use in the kitchen by a biomass boiler. The
fuel used is harvested from the woodland as part of the Conservation programme.

There are no rubbish collections and everything is recycled where possible: food
waste is composted and returned to the land, packaging where it exists
supplements the biomass. Even waste from the composting toilets is gradually
turned over to the land thanks to the digestive work from the resident tiger worms !

By using #OffTheGrid as an over-riding message, we are hoping to help all of our
visitors get a better understanding of what it actually means to be '#Off the Grid'
in todays technological age.