Water and steam power

What is impressive is just how many water powered mills there were in the area and how long they continued in operation. Steam power did not suddenly replace water power, because the two sources of power were often used together. For example, when Land Mill near Hebden Bridge was advertised for lease in 1882 it was described as both water and steam powered, the water wheel being ‘sufficient to turn the mill except in dry season’. Both water and steam were being used; water when it was available and steam for the short time probably in summer when water was in short supply. At least one mill in the area seems to have moved from water to steam and then back to water for its source of power.


Over time most mills did move from water and steam power to diesel and then to electric motors as their power source. But even when water was finally abandoned as a source of motive power, waterwheels were still being used to drive generators for electricity. Turbines were installed from the 1890s, and in the 20s and 30s water wheels were often dismantled and turbines put in instead, to provide lighting for mills and homes.

Next section: Field work

Power From the Landscape

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