Buck Mill

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Buck Mill
Address Buck Mill Lane, Thackley
Postcode Pre dates postcode
Built 13th century
Built by Lord of the Manor
Demolished/empty 1920s
Buck Mill Mill Race.jpg
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Buck Mill has evident claims to antiquity. The manorial corn mill was built by the river in the 13th century. In a deed dated 1213, Nigel de Plumpton, Lord of the Manor of Idle, was given permission to construct a mill dam across the River Aire between Baildon and Idle. The river was diverted through a goit (mill race) to turn the water wheel and for many years the local farmers were required to take their grain harvest there for grinding into flour.[1]

The mill, for several hundred years known as Idle Mill, became known as Buck Mill. It was highly influential in the way that Thackley developed being a focal point in the lives of many for almost seven centuries.[2]

The mill acquired the name Buck Mill from the occupiers, John & William Buck, to whom a lease for sixty years was granted by Sir Ingram Clifford & the co-owners, Anthony Thorold & Cicely Oglethorpe in 1567. It then contained a water wheel for grinding corn, besides a fulling mill with two stocks.[3]

A columnist in the Shipley Times in 1915 said: "It was the centre of corn milling for all the farmers around: the people of the neighbourhood would bring their corn in sacks, borne on the backs of pack horses, along the ancient track ways, for grinding at the mill, and return home with the flour."[2]

You can follow a journey down the river here

1908 Map showing Mill buildings

The site is between the river and canal and so is not actually in Baildon - the river being the boundary - but is in Buck Wood, Thackley.

Site Work

In 2018 work was done by Northern Powergrid installing a new power supply to the local area. Tree clearance also seemed to be done along the route of the existing pylons. To gain access for the work they widened the path through part of the Buck Mill site this resulted in some of the remains of the 19th century parts of the mill being moved. The Telegraph & Argus report that Bradford Council are putting in place plans so that the site will be protected from more damage.[4]


Plaque on Buck Lane footbridge

From the Baildon side the Mill could be reached by stepping stones across the river but, as could be imagined, these could not be used when the water was high and they also got damaged and dangerous. Those studying the Idle Local Board Minutes have found references to the stepping stones and talk of a footbridge and that forms the basis of the information below.

Shipley Times and Express - Saturday 23 December 1876
SOMETIME ago, an Idle correspondent drew the attention of the local authorities of Idle and Baildon to the necessity which existed for the provision of a better means of communication for pedestrians between those two townships. Each place lying on a hill-side, with the baby-river Aire rolling in the valley below, the only means of communication between the banks of the stream which has hitherto existed has been by means of stepping-stones or "hippins," as they are more commonly called hereabouts. These, with the usage of years and the never-weary action of the water upon them, have become dilapidated and dangerous; so much so, indeed, that it is but with great difficulty and considerable agility that the Buck Mill stepping-stones are made of any service at all. But the matter is about to receive attention. At the last meeting of the Idle Local Board the point was raised, and the clerk was instructed to write to the Baildon Board "stating that the stepping-stones across the river at Buck Mill are out of order, and asking if they are willing to contribute their proportion towards the erection of a foot-bridge." Idle is willing to do her part—what will the people of Baildon say?

A detailed record of a Baildon Local Board meeting shows that Baildon were prepared to pay £389, which was half the cost of the bridge based on one of the estimates. Quite a discussion took place, some of it related to the agreements the Idle Board where presenting. Baildon Board were of the opinion that Idle was bigger than Baildon and so should pay more; in the same way that Shipley should pay more than Baildon for a bridge between Shipley and Baildon. Baildon Local Board were not prepared to get into an agreement that potentially committed them to spend more if the cost was greater than already discussed.[5]

Shipley Times and Express - Saturday 20 April 1889
On Friday afternoon last week the new iron foot-bridge across the river Aire at Buck Hill, was formally declared open to the public by the members of the Idle and Baildon Local Boards. The new bridge has been erected at the joint expense of the two districts, and undoubtedly will prove an immense convenience for people residing on both aides of the river. It has, as is well-known, been erected in substitution for the old and dangerous a stepping-stones, which had done duty for foot-passengers. For many years it has been considered that something should be done to provide safe means of crossing the river, the stepping-stones, except in the driest season, could not be used with safety, or, at any time, with any degree of comfort The old stepping-stones were the only provision made for crossing the river between Shipley and Apperley, and, as the districts of Idle and Baildon together have population of something like 12,000 persons, there could be no question as to the duty of the two Local Boards in the matter. Indeed, the members on both sides recognised it, and about year ago negotiations were seriously entered into. At one time it seemed that the whole matter would fall through. Both ratable value and population are lower at Baildon than at Idle, and there was some dis- position at Baildon to ask Idle to pay proportionately higher the cost. The Idle Board, however, stuck to the matter with commendable persistency, and ultimately an estimate of £778 the cost of the bridge made by Messrs Kendall and Bakes was accepted, Baildon agreeing to pay half that sum (£389), leaving the construction of the bridge entirely in the hands of the Idle Local Board, who ware responsible for extras over and above the estimated cost of the structure. General Stansfield, of Esholt Hall, was of course then living, and went so far in approval of the scheme as to give the necessary land required on the Idle side for the construction of the approach to the bridge, while on the other side the Bradford Corporation transferred sufficient land to connect the bridge with Buck Lane. The agreement between the two Local Boards, General Stansfield, and the Corporation, was not completed before General Stansfield's death, but it was ratified by his widow subsequently, as well as by the other parties to it. In this agreement, the two Boards undertake to maintain at their joint cost the bridge for ever, while General Stansfield and the Corporation dedicate the land required for the approaches. In respect of the expenditure in connection with the bridge, there have been Local Government Board inquiries, and both Boards have received the sanction of the central authority to spend £900—£450 each —an amount which will probably be absorbed in the cost of the bridge, and legal and architects’ charges. The two Boards are to be congratulated on the completion of so desirable an improvement in the communication between the two townships, and undoubtedly their action is emphatically approved of by the ratepayers on both sides of the river. The Idle Local Board, having arranged all preliminaries, accepted the tender of £770 of Messrs J. Bagshaw and Sons, engineers, Batiey, in accordance with the design and drawings (approved by all the signatures to the agreement) of Messrs Kendall and Bakes, architects, of Idle. The work has now been completed, the result being seen in the substantial structure now spanning the river on the Charlestown side of Buck Mill, about twenty yards below the old steppingstones, the position being selected by the late General Stansfield. The approaches at either end of the bridge are six feet wide, sloped gradually to level of bridge platform, well macadamised, and protected by fence walls. The superstructure of the bridge, which is painted red, stands on three piers and two abutments, the foundations to the piers and abutments being made a depth of four feet below the bed of the river, and constructed of solid cement concrete. The piers, which have angular cutwaters and abutments, are built of sandstone ashlar, from Windhill Wood End quarries, filled in solid with rubble and cement. The coping, or girder foundation stones, consist of large sandstone ashlar blocks. The superstructure, which is about twelve feet above the river low water level, consists of three spans measuring 88 feet between centre of bearings, making the total length of the bridge 264 feet. The whole of the superstructure is constructed entirely of wrought iron. The main girders are of the single lattice type, seven feet deep, and placed six feet (the width ot the bridge) centres apart with parallel horizontal booms, vertical struts, and diagonal ties placed eight feet centres apart carrying a three-inch plank platform on the bottom flanges. The booms consist of tee irons and flange platers rivetted together. The diagonals are flat bars, and the verticals are angle irons rivetted to booms. The girders are braced together and stiffened by means of a complete and ornamental system of horizontal and diagonal wind bracings on top bottom, and sides. The fixed ends of the girders are carried on bearing plates, bedded on sheet lead upon the foundation stones, and well and securely bolted down, while the end plates of the girders, at the joints of the piers, are also well bolted together. Suitable plank plinth, iron railing, and hand-rail have been placed alongside each girder. During the construction, the architects have exercised a direct and personsal supervision of the work, which appears to have been thoroughly well done.
Public satisfaction was shown on Friday in the presence of large concourse of people from both aides of the river to witness the opening ceremony, which took place at three o'clock. From the centre of the bridge the “Union Jack" was flying, in testimony of the public character of the function. The Idle Local Board was represented by Mr Coates Murgatroyd (chairman), Mr C. Turner; Mr S. Turner, Mr J. Thornton, Mr S. Brainier, Mr A. Higginbotham, Mr T. Garnett, Mr J. S. Brayshaw, Mr N. Jowett (clerk), Mr Kington (sanitary inspector), and Mr Baxter (road surveyor); the Baildon representatives being Mr W. Nutt, T. M. Holmes, Mr James Clegg, Mr C. Thompson, Mr J. Taylor, Mr J. H. Ward (clerk), and Mr Wiseman (road surveyor). The architects were also present, as was also Mr Bagshaw, junior. Regret was expressed at the inability of Mr John Waugh, Chairman of the Baildon Local Board, to be present, but the fact that Messrs Murgatroyd, C. Turner, T. Garnett (Idle), J. Clegg and J. Taylor (Baildon) would cease to be members at their respective Boards on the 15th, had caused the Idle Board to hurry on the opening, in order that the members who had been responsible for the undertaking might be present in their official capacity, otherwise the ceremony would have been delayed to meet Mr Waugh's convenience. Mrs Stansfield, widow of the late General Stansfield, was to have performed the opening ceremony, but in her unavoidable absence the duty was undertaken by the Chairman of the Idle Local Board, Both ends of the bridge having been closed, and the bridge cleared of people, the representatives of the two districts, at a given signal, removed the barriers and, meeting the centre of the bridge close to the "Union Jack," cordially shook hands and offered mutual congratulations.
Afterwards, Mr Murgatroyd, in declaring the bridge open for the use of the public, referred to the steps which had been taken to get the bridge constructed. He said the want of the better means of communication between the two districts had for many years been felt, and the subject had often been discussed since 1884. In 1888 the two Boards came to a satisfactory agreement, and they had now the gratification of seeing great public convenience completed. He could call it a successful completion, and he was happy to say that the work had been carried out without the slightest mishap of any kind. It was the general opinion that the two Boards acted wisely in providing this bridge, and they hoped and believed that it would prove a great advantage to tbe inhabitants both districts and to the public generally. Many a traveller would appreciate the work long after the present Board were no longer able to take advantage of it. The two Boards had to acknowledge and appreciate the assistance of the late General Stansfield and the Bradford Corporation, who had all through recognised the necessity there was for the bridge, and had generously given the land for the approaches both sides of the river. The only desire now was that the general public might take full advantage of the convenience. He had pleasure in declaring the bridge open. (Cheers.)
Mr Nutt, on behalf of the Baildon authority, said he cordially endorsed every word uttered by Mr Murgatroyd. Every one who lived in the district must feel that this was an improvement in the means of communication long greatly needed. He was satisfied that the bridge would prove a great boon to the people on both sides of the river, and he knew he had everyone with him when be expressed the hope that the means of easy intercourse which the bridge provided would be for the prosperity of both districts. (Cheers.)
The bridge being then formally declared open, was inspected by the members of the two Boards, all of whom expressed themselves satisfied with the work. Subsequently the members of the two Boards, at the invitation of the Idle representatives, dined at the Great Northern Hotel, Thackley. At the after proceedings Mr Murgatroyd presided, and Mr Nutt was vice-chairman. After the toast of the "Queen" had been duly honoured, the toasts of "Visiting Friends," "Architects," and "Contractors" were proposed and responded to, congratulatory speeches being delivered.

Idle Board Minutes[6]

  • 1872 The first suggestion that there should be a footbridge to improve communication between Idle and Baildon.
  • 1876 Stepping stones in dangerous condition. Col. Stansfield of Esholt Hall, Mill site owner did not feel liable to repair them and Baildon Local Board not co-operating in funding a bridge.
  • 1884 Baildon Local Board complain about the stepping stones being dangerous. Baildon and Idle agree a bridge is needed and Jowett Kendall, an architect lining in Idle was asked to make plans. It was noted that horses would not be allowed to cross as the owner of the land on the Baildon side did not want heavy traffic going through.
  • 1887 finally agreed on location of the bridge, at the site of the stepping stone which further downstream that originally suggested.
  • 1888 Messrs Bagshaw's offer of £770 to build the bridge was accepted.
  • 1889 12 April. Formal opening of the bridge at 3pm. Members of Idle and Baildon Local Boards had a dinner at the Great Northern Hotel in Thackley
  • 1889 1 May the Idle Board members walked over the bridge to Baildon for another dinner. There was concern that children could get through the bars of the bridge and fall in the river, so wire protection was put up.
  • 1891 & 1893 Painting and repairs done.
  • 1894 Reports were made of a milk cart frequently going over and cartwheels damaging the approach wall for 27 feet.

Other records

  • 1888 16 Oct it was reported that Baildon's share of the cost of the bridge would be £389[7]
  • 2004 Bridge refurbished by Bradford Council.[6]
  • 2020 October. Bridge closed due to unsafe walkway.[8] Reports of people lifting the chained barriers and walking across. People suggesting that it was only unsafe for horses.
  • 2021 January. Bridge repaired by Bradford Council and opened.


  1. Friends of Buck Wood website
  2. 2.0 2.1 A Journey Down the River. Aire Rivers Trust
  3. Round about Bradford. Cudworth. Page 372
  4. Telegraph & Argus. 3rd, 6th & 15th Oct 2018
  5. Shipley Times and Express - Saturday 07 July 1888
  6. 6.0 6.1 Buck Wood, Bradford. General Archaelogical Report. 2006.
  7. BLBG Minutes 1880-1889
  8. Telegraph & Argus. 23 Oct 2020