Mill Bank is a rugged hill-top village in the south Pennines of West Yorkshire. It nestles on the steep side of a valley overlooking the beech trees of Fiddle Wood and Lumb Beck, the soft-water stream that once powered textile mills.
The Calderdale Way skirts the village on its descent from Soyland to Lumb Beck and climbs up again to within easy reach of The Alma Inn at Cottonstones, before reaching the heights of Flints Moor. Here there are amazing views of Cragg Vale and beyond.
Mill Bank’s past is rooted in the cotton, woollen and silk industries. One hundred and fifty years ago the population was three times its current size and there were five local mills, seven pubs and a variety of shops, including one of the original Co-op shops which opened in the village in 1865.
Following a period of serious decline, the village was rescued from imminent demolition and made a conservation area in the 1976. The mills are gone, as are the shops.
The village is an old settlement, with weavers’ cottages dating from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, clustered below an old Wesleyan Chapel and a school built in Victorian times.
Mill Bank is a conservation area, has been voted Best Small Village and has won the Yorkshire in Bloom Gold Award several times in recent years.
It is a delightful place to live, offering villagers a friendly community, with a playground, green fields and woodlands where children can play. There is an excellent school, good health services nearby, and public transport. Many of the homes have been carefully restored and are well maintained.
Visiting Mill Bank
Within easy reach of Manchester and Leeds, Mill Bank is a great place to visit, especially if you’re interested in Pennine history or love walking or cycling. The whole area is criss-crossed by hundreds of footpaths, old pack-horse trails and bridleways connecting villages with outlying farms and the sites of old mills in the valleys. The paths give unparalleled access to woodlands, rivers, canals and open moorland with glorious views.
At nearby Ripponden, the Old Bridge is among the oldest pubs in the area, and oozes character. There’s fine dining at Gimbals in Sowerby Bridge, and interesting places to stay, such as Thorpe House. For larger parties, and for weddings, The Fleece Inn at Ripponden has amazing views.
Hebden Bridge lies only a few miles away, and boasts “500 Years of Creativity” with its many artists’ studios, independent shops and all kinds of cuisine in many restaurants and cafes. Stroll along the canal or scale the heights to reach Heptonstall for its panoramic views of the Calder Valley.
The annual Sowerby Bridge rush-bearing festival takes place in September, with dancing in the street.
The village has inspired two books, the most recent being Mill Bank: The Story of a West Yorkshire Village published in 2018, and gives a loving account of growing up and going to the village school in the 1940s.