Gayle Mill was built in 1784 by two related entrepreneurs, Oswald and Thomas Routh, who saw the business opportunities opened up by the building of a turnpike road from the west and the end of the American War of Independence which allowed a greater flow of raw cotton from the United States.
It started life as a cotton-spinning mill, powered by a 22' diameter overshot waterwheel, and over the next century, as economic conditions in the Dales changed, was also used for spinning flax (briefly) and then wool for the local knitting cottage industry in the valley. For a period in the 19th century, it was used for domestic accommodation (and it also housed military personnel during World War II)
In 1879 the Mill took on a new lease of industrial life when, due to advances in technology, it was converted it into a mechanised sawmill. The waterwheel was removed and replaced with a Thomson double-vortex turbine, built by Williamsons (now Gilbert Gilkes & Gordon Ltd) of Kendal. The 10hp (7.46kW) created by the turbine drove a range of woodworking machinery (rack sawbench. circular saw, planner/thicknesser, and lathes) by a series of belts and pulleys off a central line-shaft.
In the early years of the 20th century, an electric generator was installed to provide lighting and from 1920 the Hawes Electric Company leased part of the Mill and turbine for their own generator. A gas engine (now removed) was also installed to be able to drive the generator when there was insufficient water to run the turbine. In 1925 a second turbine was put in to create greater capacity.
In 1959 all electricity supplies from the Mill to the outside world ceased, leaving the 1925 generator to supply all electrical requirements for just the Mill. The Williamson turbine continued to supply the motive power for the woodworking machinery until the business closed down in 1988.
It took four long years of work to restore this treasure to its former glory.