What a busy place Bent Ley Silk Mill is to-day, now that all the extensions are completed, and the new engine running so smoothly! It is like a hive of busy bees, all manipulating the soft skeins of the tender silkworm, where lovely girls find clean and healthy employment and stronger men do the harder work. Meltham finds the place a real help in time of need to make up a little for its decaying industries, which have been too marked during the last few years, now especially that the woollen trade has nearly gone, but, let us hope, not for ever. The men have found work elsewhere, and are to be seen in the morning at the station, going by the early trains to earn their daily bread, and returning at night like hares to the old ground which they love so well. Still, the old village does not seem impoverished, for hands are not to be had, and Bent Ley is that short-handed that workers have had to be imported with the Nottingham branch to fill in the vacancies. What a change for the dwellers of the good old town of ancient history and of progressive manufacture! Trent Bridge, with its boulevards; Colwick Hall, the ancient place where Lord Byron went to woo (now the racecourse), and the old hall turned into an hotel, and its ancient lake and evergreen woods the resort of the workers of the lace city; Clifton woods and grooves, with the winding Trent silently slipping round the well-wooded banks. All these will often be remembered, and the little outs to Thurgarton and Bleasby to see their favourite river, or to catch fishes in the famous reaches in and around Hoveringham Ferry, together with the beautiful and historical sights too numerous to mention. They may at first sigh for the home they have left, but will soon find that the land they have come to is one to make them welcome and find remunerative work to make them comfortable. Neither is the happy valley devoid of beauty, sheltered as it is by the hills, which shield it from storms, and make an amphitheatre nearly as fine as that of Rome. What could be prettier than Hall Heys above the mill where they work; High Brow Hill, leading to the level plain of South Crosland; Netherton, standing boldly out on the eastern side, pointing to the early morn? Wilshaw offers many points of attraction, leading to that charming retreat, Wood Cottage, and again to the Isle of Skye, and far away to the ever memorable “Bill’s o’ Jack’s,” and its wild moorlands. These and other scenes will well compensate them in summer for any loss they may have sustained, and in the long run be an ample reward for their sojourn in the land, which, if not flowing with milk and honey, is a place where they can find rest and as good conditions (perhaps better) as they have enjoyed before.
Slaithwaite Notes: Past and Present (1905) by John Sugden