Lumsdale has been the home to industry from at least the 17th century when the available water power was used for the smelting of lead. Two lead smelting mills are documented in Lumsdale dating from this period; one on the site of what is now known as the Bone Mill [SMR 10064] and the other on the site of the later Paint Mill [SMR 10063]. To these were added two cupolas where lead was smelted into the 18th century. When the building was converted to cottages (now Pond Cottages) in the 1780s the cupolas were long out of use [see SMR 10048].
During its lead smelting days the Paint Mill was owned by the Trustees of Bonsall School but was later leased to Watts Lowe and Co and bought by Gartons in 1830. Over time the Paint Mill was variously used for bleaching, corn grinding and latterly barytes grinding. It is understood that the Paint Mill was also used as a residence in the past.
It was Watts Lowe and Co. who built the mill dam, adjacent to the Bone Mill, in the 1780s to create a water supply for their cotton mill further down the valley. The dam survives almost intact and the pond, known as Pond 1, remains as a silted area encroached by vegetation. A second pond, known as Pond 2, was also part of this phase of re-development in the valley. Located immediately north of Pond Cottages the southern tip of the Pond 2 retains a sluice gate but the head of water was not used to provide power; the pond acted merely as a reservoir. This pond remains water-filled but is heavily silted, and is the subject of a current (2014) Heritage Lottery Grant bid to reinstate it.
Approximately 30m to the south-west of the Paint Mill is the Grinding Mill [SMR 30821], understood to have been built in the 1770s by the Trustees of Bonsall School, it has been used at various times for grinding corn, red lead and minerals. This mill was fed by water flowing directly from the Paint Mill tail race achieving close to maximum efficiency. The water, having been used, was discharged directly to the head of the next mill and that in turn to the head of the next. From c. 1850, when a further mill was added below pond 3 [SMR 10062], five mills worked in line, the water passing from tail to head before the water was eventually returned to the stream.
The first purpose-built cotton-spinning factory was developed by Richard Arkwright in 1771 at Cromford (Derbyshire) and the Lumsdale and Tansley (which lies south of the monument) textile mills and associated textile industries developed almost simultaneously. Towards the end of the 18th century, following the cessation of Arkwright's patents (1785), there became a high demand for water-powered sites which could be converted to textile use, and the industrial remains which are visible above ground in Lumsdale today owe their basic forms to the first wave of expansion of the Arkwright factory system. Watts and Lowe had taken a real risk, if Arkwright had won his case they would have been prosecuted.
The earliest purpose-built cotton mill within the Lumsdale Valley was a three storey building now known as Gartons Mill, located at the southern end of the monument [see SMR 10062]. The mill was built in the 1780s by Watts, Lowe and Co., but their success was short lived and the firm was bankrupt by 1813. Soon after the company's interests in the valley passed to John Garton, a bleacher. Garton developed other interests in mineral grinding and, as mentioned above, used several sites in the valley for this purpose. The upper part of the valley remained in Garton's control until 1907, when it was taken over by the Farnsworth family. Business continued until 1929 but since that time the buildings have been out of use.
The cotton mill is now known as the Lower Bleach Works with the Upper Bleach Works on the north side of the road; the two are linked by a tramway across the road which survives as visible stone runnels. A number of the original stone bleaching vats survive at the Lower Bleach Works, rendering it one of the last surviving examples in the country.
The Saw Mill was the last major addition to the valley; constructed in 1850, it was built as a grinding mill for processing minerals for paint, but later became a saw mill. A French Burr mill stone is still evident on the surface but it is thought there were probably 3 or 4 pairs of stones inside the mill. At around the same time the successors of Watts, Lowe and Co. created Pond 3 from a former quarry just north-east of the Saw Mill. A metal pipe took water to what is understood to be an overshot wheel. The pond also ensured a reliable source of water for the mills further down the valley.
Since the mills fell out of use there has been a gradual erosion of the standing fabric, both by natural degradation, vegetation growth and some robbing of stone. Surveys were carried out in the 1960s by Nottingham and Cambridge Universities. In 1976 the Arkwright Society leased the land and in 1979 a Committee of Lumsdale residents formed with an aim to conserve the character of the valley. In 1980 the Lumsdale Conservation Area was approved by the Council, and by 1981 work began on restoring the lower pond (Pond 3), a task completed in 1983. Work has recently begun on dredging and restoring Pond 2. Clearing vegetation growth surrounding the buildings is planned.
The standing and buried remains of Lumsdale Mills and the associated water management features which date from the 17th century, are scheduled for the following principal reasons:
* Survival: for the exceptional standing remains and buried deposits which depict the continuity and change in the form and function of the industrial landscape within this section of the Lumsdale Valley;
* Potential: for the stratified archaeological deposits which retain considerable potential to increase our understanding of the buildings and their associated industries. Such deposits can not only identify the sequential development of the individual industries but can also reveal the intricate network of water management features which physically linked, and were integral to, the functioning of all the industrial processes. In all its guises, the archaeological evidence has the potential to aid the understanding of the significance of the valley in the social and economic structure of the communities within the wider landscape;
* Group value and Diversity: for the range, complexity and number of industries represented here but also for the diversity and extent of archaeological features which link the industries not only to each other but also to the water source offered by the Bentley Brook;
* Historical importance: for the historic association with Richard Arkwright and the Watts, Lowe and Co. who spread Arkwright’s revolution to the valleys with water power; Lumsdale was caught up in the ‘gold rush’ which followed Arkwright’s loss of patent on his machinery and was part of the first wave of expansion of the Arkwright factory system in 1783-84. (1)