The Heart of the Mill

1 min read

There really isn’t much left in the Hilden Mill. Many of the ceilings have disintegrated and hang precariously from rotten beams. Paint flakes from damp walls and ivy pours from broken windows.

Yet as I wander around the old mill I suddenly discover the untouched, a coffee table littered with magazines dated from 2005, a cardigan clad chair sat lonely as if the factory was evacuated in an instant.

A number of offices still contain filing cabinets emptied only by vandals and the nosey. Given it is four years since Barbour  Threads closed it makes you wonder what it was like in the weeks and months just after it ceased functioning.

Most of the wooden floors have been removed. Bangor slates remain only on the buildings too high for casual visitors to risk reaching. Many of the walls feature ceramic tiles that reflect what little light that passes through broken the windows and doors.

In one area a desk features family photo frames, calculators, faded post-it notes and drawers filled with coloured attachments apparently used to stop the thread from tangling.

Despite the odd pocket of life the majority of the site lies deceased, slowly falling down while it quietly waits to be regenerated and revived. The Mill has been in existence  since before 1800 and strangely it is the oldest of the buildings that appeared to be the most solid with stunning brick work, clearly built with patience and accuracy.

From a personal point of view I completed a design project in the Mill during the mid 1990s and although I visited the site on about a dozen occasions I was unable to recognise the mill in its current  state of demise.

The site closed in 2006 and even after four years the white walls appear pure, glowing in the airy light of glass roofed corridors. Most the walls were painted either teal or navy to the mid-point with the remainder of the walls and ceilings being pure white.

I expected a completely clear site void of any evidence it was a working mill yet racks of thread, spools, and gears still litter the large factory floors.

The cardigan hanging over the seat in what appeared to be a makeshift factory coffee area is certainly the eeriest of discoveries. If you recognise it I am sorry to say  you have just missed your chance to recover it.

Photos from “Through the Mill”


David is a documentary and landscape photographer covering everything from dramatic long exposure landscape photography through to live music. David is a former Official Fujifilm X Photographer.


  1. The photos bring back memories , my family were assosiated with the mill for over 150 years and I worked there in 1959. Our lives rotated around the mill and village.

  2. Your photographs are stunning. Thank you for them.
    My mother passed away last Spring. She was born in Banbridge. I visited the Gilford mill last summer. My mother in the Gilford mill in the 1940s. I was told the floors were covered in water and she was barefoot when ever she worked. I wish there were recordings of the sounds of the mill when it was fully operating.

  3. Great pictures, you would have hoped that any artefacts left would have been handed into the local museum. I visited the former English Sewing Thread Mill recently ( hand permission) and found in a dark damp corner nearly 30 files dating back to the 60,70, 80 and up to closure. Luckily I was able to save them. I passed them on to the local Council, so others could benefit. I notice in one of your pictures, there appears to be cabinets and files, was this the case and did you manage to save any of this important material.

Leave a Reply

Latest from Document