Milling About #massonmill #findinghome

I pondered why we anchor to a specific place this weekend while visiting Derbyshire. I’m well established in a corner of South London where I’ve lived for over 30 years. Coming to London itself in 1979 was job-driven and my first flat share a result of a university friend having a spare room at the right moment. But why did we end up where we did?

This train of thought came to me while watching a fascinating demonstration of the history of industrial weaving at Masson Mill in the Derwent Valley.

Masson Mill was the creation of Richard Arkwright in the 18th century and functioned as a cotton mill until 1991. It is the jewel in the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage site and, for the Textiliste, close to nirvana.

The demonstration, encompassing Yorkshire and Lancashire looms from 150 years ago, through the gorgeous and mind boggling Jacard loom with its early computing technology

to  a Saurer from the 1970s was an hour of fascination and noise. The stories, of child labour, of regular employment after years of agricultural hardship, early education of the poor and egregious injury couldn’t but hold one’s attention.

And yet one question rattled around. Why, given this is a cotton mill, did they place it here, pretty much  as far from the sea and the ports – where the American cotton would arrive – as can be found in England?

There’s a river that doesn’t  freeze, and Arkwright was a local lad. But the canal system followed the Mill not the other way round so the transport logistics were complex to say the least – Manchester may be 50 miles away as a rather discombobulated crow flies but from here to there is still a case of ‘lad, I wouldn’t start from here’.. Maybe, it was because that, hereabouts there was a paper mill on which the Masson Mill was sited.

Maybe it was that convenience and local knowledge led to this siting, now in a fabulous setting. From these early beginnings, other mills flourished and fame, and for some, fortune, dropped onto an otherwise sleepy part of the country. By such convenient strokes of luck do we land somewhere and stay put.

And me and south London? It’s all due to cricket. We, the Textiliste and I were looking to buy somewhere. I had recently joined my law firm and asked  to take part in an annual cricket match against one of its competitors. Normally the Textiliste had better things to do with her Saturdays than watch me pretend I could play cricket but this was a chance to meet some of my new colleagues and their families so she came along. I vividly recall looking across to the spectator group and noting a sea of attentive faces watching the game… save one deck chair that was at 90 degrees to the play – my girlfriend was following the sun round to get a decent tan!

At some point, when even sunbathing paled (quite soon in truth) she wandered off into the local village and looked in an estate agent’s window. This was Dulwich and the houses were priced in our range and offered more by way of gardens than where we had been looking. Serendipity. Never let it be said that cricket is anything other than a force for good in my life.

Let’s end with a  song..

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in family, miscellany, museums, thought piece and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Milling About #massonmill #findinghome

  1. I remember my mother having those large spools and using them for candle holders.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. trifflepudling says:

    Looks like an interesting visit. My uncle was a mill owner in Yorkshire and loved the whole thing. They specialised in worsted and jacquard. His workshop was full of odd pieces of stuff like in your photo.

    Re. the second house we bought, we were looking in one area but one afternoon my train stopped on the line, as they do, and all I could see was the white chalk cutting, green grass verge, gold wheat and bright blue sky. I thought “Where is this place?”, and that is where we ended up buying – somewhere we hadn’t thought of. Strange.
    Thanks for piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: A Walk in Dulwich Park, London. | beyondtheflow

  4. Rowena says:

    Hello, Geoff. I decided to check out Dulwich on Google maps tonight and went for a great little walk, resulting in this post. Mildly bonkers but I might be onto something…a series.
    BTW is this cafe any good?
    https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2017/07/21/a-walk-in-dulwich-park-london/
    Best wishes,
    Ro

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Serendipity has, I think, a lot to do with where we end up! Hindsight shows me that, as a peripatetic gypsy, I have ended up in several locations, each of them seemingly for a specific purpose. I admit to a certain envy of those folk who have lived in the same location for many years. I wonder if the Sir built his mill where he did simply because it didn’t occur to him to build it anywhere else – and serendipitously the canal builders and train inventors and other necessities creators could all apply their talents to ensuring his idea worked out……… that’s my thought for the day, back to bed!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. gordon759 says:

    Thank you brother, your tale of Arkwright and why he built where he did has reminded me of an historical tale I was intending to write – the summer that changed the world.
    So I will.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Anabel Marsh says:

    I remember a boyfriend (not the one I married, I wonder why) was very keen on motor racing and took me to Thruxton. He and his brother were singularly unimpressed when I got so bored I took my magazine out and read it – so I know where the Textiliste is coming from! As for places we live, it was work brought us to Glasgow 31 years ago and now I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Such an interesting post, Geoff. I used to sew and have a love of textiles. It sounds like a fascinating tour. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. willowdot21 says:

    Really nice post Geoff 💗💜

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It is strange where we end up, but it seems that you have a lot to thank the Textiliste for! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I would have begged for some of those spools though I have one or two here already. Love them as I love most antiquated things. I go nuts anywhere there is something to do with fabric, sewing, needlework new or old. That place would have kept me for hours. As for where we hang our hats, I’ve had 35 addresses that I can remember. Now I choose to be as close to my daughter as possible and my sister. I liked living close to my son, just not with him. Most people go where the work is or where homes are affordable. After that, you follow family. We went where the military sent us with layovers close to any family. This post brings up lots of memories. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: 1774 The Summer that Changed the World | The Curious Archaeologist

If you would like to reply please do so here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s