This impressive mill was constructed in 1785 for spinning silk. No silkworms ever lived around here – the climate is way too cold for them – but silk manufacturing was a well-established industry in this area. The town of Macclesfield, only six miles away, was the big regional centre and a few, even larger eighteenth century mills also survive there.
The raw material was imported from sunny Italy. Though there were no silkworm cocoons hanging from the trees, what this spot did have was all that free power in the tumbling waters of the Dane. The mill harnessed the river’s energy through a gigantic water wheel. This natural water source made the mill cheap to run, but in the end Gradbach was too remote to be commercially viable. It closed in 1885.