A special steaming at an historic Pendle mill proved to be a true family affair.
Barnoldswick’s Bancroft Mill was running at full steam when two great -great-granddaughters of its founder, James Nutter, travelled from overseas to a special gala steaming of Lancashire’s biggest mill steam engine.
Janet Paterson came all the way from Perth, Australia, and was joined by her sister Judith de la Cour, from Jersey.
Mr Nutter, who lived in Barnoldswick, built the mill in Gillians Lane almost a century ago.
But the sisters were not the only members of the Nutter family to be present.
It turned out to be quite a reunion, and in some cases simply a union, as other members of the large Nutter family turned up to watch Janet turn on the engine and meet each other in person for the first time.
There were also several dignitaries at Bancroft on the day too and these included Christiana Buchanan, the Deputy Lieutenant of Lancashire, Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson, Coun. Rosemary Carroll and Carol Belshaw-Goulthorp, the Mayor and Mayoress of Pendle.
Hilda Elsworth (94) entertained visitors with tales of what it was like in a mill. She is thought to be the last person alive who was a weaver at Bancroft Mill when it was operating.
As well as switching on the engine, the visitors were also given a guided tour of the mill.
However, there were even further historical family ties, and Ian McKay, one of Bancroft Mill’s volunteers has not ruled out a further family specials down the line.
He said: “The mill made 200,000 yards of cotton cloth per week on 1,250 looms. Some of these looms were made by John Pilling’s of Colne, and yes, Anthony Pilling also came to the mill to join in the fun and to watch our weaver working the surviving Pilling loom.
“The engine was run by Tony Nixon. It was his great-great-great-grandad John Sellers who was the first Secretary to Barnoldswick Co-Operative Society and we thank the Co-Op for their kind sponsorship of the refreshments for the visitors to this event.
“I think it went really well. It became a real family reunion and we have found some more family members.
“There is one who lives in South Africa who seems to be determined to come over next year and there is another family member who lives up somewhere in Ribblesdale so we will see what comes of that.”
The mill engine runs on a number of Sundays throughout the year. For further information, go online to www.bancroftmill.org.uk/