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Keeping Hardcastle Crags off the grid!

Wednesday, 4 October 2023

A new roof and solar array for Gibson Mill this winter

Gibson Mill, the 18th century former cotton mill at the heart of the National Trust's Hardcastle Crags estate, will look a little different this autumn as scaffolding begins to wrap around the off grid building from 9 October ahead of replacement solar panels and restoration work on the roof.

Renovation and restoration work at Hardcastle Crags first started at the mill in 2005, with a pioneering project that saw the cotton Mill become the first fully off-grid property in the National Trust's care. At the time, the mill's original 1926 Francis hydro turbo was restored and reinstated alongside a smaller Crossflow hydro turbine installation for use when water levels in the millpond were low.

Now, nearly 20 years later, the solar photovoltaic system that was also introduced is set to be replaced.

The current solar panels generate 25% of the electricity used in the café, mill and offices, after 18 years they have become outdated, and their efficiency is dropping.

Site Manager, Chris Bryerley told the HebWeb, "Hardcastle Crags has really grown in popularity over the last few years, but unfortunately some of the renewable technologies haven't been able to keep up with the demands of the site."

The new solar array will have updated technology - the current array was installed when the technology was in its infancy, over the last 20 years the technology has drastically improved.

As well as updated technology, there will be more panels in the array. They'll also generate up to 11kwh, nearly a 300% increase on the outdated panels that currently generate 4kwh.

Gibson Mill will be closed from the 9 October until 6 November while scaffolding is erected around the building. Visitors will still be able to gain access while the work in underway.

The Weaving Shed Café will remain open as normal throughout the works and will be open daily 10am – 4pm, until it moves to winter opening hours.

Full information can be found at the National Trust website.

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