Written by Astrid Hansen
Downstream from Hallas Bridge, Hewenden Beck undergoes a name change and it is as Hallas Beck that it cascades over the spectacular falls, where the remains of a stone table can still be seen. This was a favourite picnic spot for members of the Ferrand family who owned St. Ives estate, including this valley. Further on still, Cowhouse Beck joins Hallas Beck to form Harden Beck, on the northern bank of which stood Goit Stock Mill. This was to have the most strangely varied history of any in the valley. Towards the end of the 18th century, Benjamin Farrar built this mill, to be operated by Timothy Horsfall. Timothy was a descendant of the Horsfalls who had owned land in Denholme from the 15th century and had made his living as a tanner before turning to cotton spinning at Goit Stock. There were various partners in the firm of Horsfall & Co. but Timothy was the main operator. He lived with his wife and children in a fine house beside the mill. After his death in 1811, his sons took over but eventually moved to Bradford as woolstaplers and worsted manufacturers. Cotton spinning continued at Goit Stock, first by Thomas Sleddon and then by James Upton from Sedbergh. To run the machinery in this mill, a large lake, six feet deep, was formed behind the house and from this the water ran down a pipe to the wheel in its pit in the basement of the four-storey mill. A steam engine was later added but production stopped in the 1860s. Steam power had made it possible to build mills in more accessible places alongside good roads and the deep valley was soon by-passed as a location for manufacturing.
However this was not the end for Goit Stock Mill. In 1865 Henry Beldon rented the building and part of the land for his prize poultry, which became known throughout the country. Nearby, prize pigs were raised by another local man. Visitors who wanted to enjoy a pleasant stroll to the waterfall could apply for permission to the Ferrand Estate Office. Henry Beldon left in about 1880, the pigs a few years earlier. In 1919 William Ferrands sold a lot of his land, including Goit Stock valley, and now it was opened up to a completely different kind of use. In his book about Bingley and surrounds, Alan Cattell has written in detail about Happy Valley Pleasure Resort, which is what this valley became. There was boating on the lake, the mill itself housed a café on one floor and a ballroom on another, with all manner of other entertainments available in the grounds. All this flourished until a disastrous fire at Easter 1927. This destroyed the ballroom and all the instruments of Wilsden Band which had been engaged to play over the holiday weekend. Much of the damage was repaired, but the resort never regained the popularity of its hey day and closed in 1932. The fairground attractions were sold, and finally the estate itself. This has subsequently changed hands several times and a variety of uses been contemplated. Fortunately one plan to sell off all the trees as timber did not come to pass. In recent years the mill house has become a private house again and below it, the widest part of the valley is a lovely setting for caravans and permanent homes. This development means that few traces of the industrial past can be found connected with Goit Stock Mill, with one striking exception. This mill did not have a mill chimney in the conventional sense but in a field high above the valley floor there still stands a solitary strange structure. This is the mill chimney, connected to the boiler fire far below by a stone-lined flue, small parts of which can still be seen in the field. This was the inspiration for another history of this part of the valley, written in 1993 by Alana Kent to answer her own and many a visitor’s question:
The stream that gave rise to all this activity is now Harden Beck, and it is at the hamlet of the same name that this little series on our industrial past will end next time.
The story continues, see the other articles here: