Thwaite Mills in Leeds

Welcome to Thwaite Mills

On Sunday I made my first visit to Leeds. It was lovely to discover so many independent coffee shops and eateries that greeted me on nearly every street. After a brief wander around the city centre I made my way to Thwaite Mills – the main reason for my trip. It was National Mills Weekend after all!

Trans Pennine Trail
The mill is located about 2.5 miles from the city centre and is well served by public transport – with the 110 bus running every 10 minutes between the two locations. Since I had time (and the weather!) on my side I decided to take the more scenic route via the Trans Pennine Trail. Leeds Council has a handy walking guide for Clarence Dock to Thwaite Mills (download PDF).

Clarence Dock

Clarence Dock

Trans Pennine Trail to Thwaite Mills

Along the way there were new build apartments and business / industrial estates that sat on one side and the River Aire on the other. It must be nice to have a national trail on ones door step and the ability to fish or feed ducks just meters from home.

Thwaite Mill
The first mill on the site was built in 1641 and was used to make wollen cloth. It was later used for other purposes including grinding flint and china stones to support the local pottery industry. The machinery that exists in the current site was part of the stone-crushing and putty mill.

Steve, the Learning Officer, explained that the putty produced were for window frames. The use of putty has long gone out of fashion but suggested I took a look at the window of heritage properties as any repairs now would likely use materials in keeping with the original.

A few photos of the historic house beside the mill. There was an example of ‘Baby Daisy’, an early version of the vacuum cleaner.

Thwaite Mills House Baby Daisy

It was incredibly cold and, naturally, noisy in the mill. I did a quick walk through the mill using Vine. It was good to be able to stand and listen to the machinery and imagine the bustle of activity in days gone by.

Nature Grounds
They had made really good use of the land around the mill, which had wildflowers, a few wigloo structures as well as minibeast hotels. There were plenty of tables and seating areas, which makes it a great place for a picnic. I took advantage of this and sat on a log bench to listen to the sounds of nature around me.

Thwaite Mills Wigloo Bug Hotel

Given the abundance of benches I was surprised to find someone appearing by my side, even more alarmed when she started to put on white overalls. It turned out I was being treated to an impromptu visit from the bee keeper who was getting geared up to check on the progress during the swarming season. It was great to get all my bee questions answered by an expert! I hope her efforts pay off again this year and the bees produce even more honey.

There’s not many working water-powered mills in Britain, so Thwaite Mill is worth a visit. Full details are available from the Leeds City Council website.

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