Masson Mills, Derwent Valley, UK
Last week I visited Masson Mills in Derbyshire, the fourth of Richard Arkwright’s mills, opened in 1783.
Unlike Cromford, his first and most well-known mill downstream, Masson has none of the shiny gloss of a revered heritage site. In fact it is quite ramshackle. There are heaps of bobbins of every size and age bundled into cavities, strips of part woven fabric and half threaded looms and most impressive of all, silent rusting monumental machines of cast iron.
It is hard to imagine bodies between these huge once deafening structures. What remains now is the cold, the decayed, damp and still.
As I left the site it felt like I had raked over a truer version of the past, more human than a text book, and one that could be revealed as brutish, scratchy and harsh like the gritstone base the mills here were built upon.