Riddle of New Mills

Millennium WalkwayQ: When is a bridge not a bridge? A: When is crosses a river, but never reaches the other side.

As riddles go, that is about as obtuse as it gets, but it came to mind when we had a stroll round New Mills yesterday. We started at the Torrs which is a deep gorge where the River Goyt flows and was once impassable for those walking the riverbank.

That is until 2000 when the bridge above opened. It follows the wall of the gorge in a great sweeping arc that is over 200 yards long. Below you you can see the white water as it races over the weir and a corner of Torr Vale Mill.

Millennium WalkwayBut while it will let your river walk continue uninterrupted, it won’t get you to the other side. Which is why they call it the Millennium Walkway rather than a bridge, of course, but I couldn’t let that stand in the way of a silly riddle.

Impressive though the walkway is, it has a sad history too. The project was led by Stan Brewster, a civil engineer with Derbyshire County Council, and he was killed in the London bombings of 2005. The walkway stands as a lasting memorial to him.

Goyt ValleyI’ve driven through New Mills countless times on my way to and from Sheffield. I even spent a whole day there back in 1996 at the offices of the Plain English Campaign, but I have never really looked round the town.

It has a bit of history has New Mills, although its name is a tad misleading as the new mill in question was built in 1391. Before that the place was known as Bowden Middlecale. That was a corn mill, of course, and not the cotton mills that began to fill the valley from the late 18th century.

Calico printing became the main industry, that and some coal mining, but both have long since gone. These days you’ll find an assortment of small companies and lots of trades.

The town has a strong Methodist tradition and John Wesley preached here several times in the 1740s. In fact the pulpit from which he delivered his sermons is on display in the small heritage museum.

HairdresserBut the thing I like most about New Mills is that its small population of around 10,000 means it has escaped the High Street cloning you see everywhere else. Well apart from a Sainsburys Local – or was it a Tesco Metro?

Instead you see lots of independent shops the way small towns used to be, all with their own butcher, baker and candlestick maker.

Not all of them are quite so run down as the one above, but I just couldn’t resist its inviting exterior!

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

1 comment… Add yours
  • Disciple Pudding 4th January 2014

    You have inspired me to pay New Mills a closer visit and I shall be walking there before too long. Thank you Saviour!


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