The Mills Industrial Past
Priest's Mill - A short history
From 1702 through to 1933, some 230 years, Priest's Mill was a stone grinding corn mill powered by the beck and a 14ft waterwheel, which can still be seen today. The mill is typical of those in the 18th Century and built into a bank next to a fast flowing river. You will see that the top floor of what is now the tea garden and cafe are easily reached by a path at the side of the mill. There are no stairs in the building. This was a clever bit of design, which enabled the wagons of corn to be taken around the back of the mill to be unloaded where the corn was dried before milling without needing complicated hoist systems. This meant that a miller and his family could run the mill on their own. There are a few mills of this age still in Cumbria including Little Salkeld Mill in the Eden Valley which is a fully working corn mill of a similar period. In the 20th Century it became a Sawmill until a flood in 1965 destroyed the mill dam. There is a small museum area for the mill within the Wool Clip and you are most welcome to have a look.
The mill was left empty until 1986, when Miss Coryn Clarke took on the grade 2 listed building. Along with architect Richard Jaques and masons George Strickland and Dave Shepherd, she spent over a year transforming the building from its previously dilapidated state into an attractive visitors centre. It received commendation in the 1988 Civic Trust Awards for the work and we celebrated 30 years as an arts and crafts centre in 2016 with a traditional crafts event.
Caldbeck is a pretty, thriving northern fells village with shops, a pub and two cafes. Enjoy walks on High Pike and Carrock Fell or along the river to the Howk, where you will find the remains of a former bobbin Mill and waterfalls. The 12th Century St Kentigern's Church, found next to Priest's Mill is also worth exploring. It is the final resting place for the 'beauty of Buttermere' Mary Robinson and for the famous huntsman John Peel.
For more information on Caldbeck, its history, amenities and places to stay click here