The Tannery, Embsay prior to demolition (c) YDNPA 2023
Once known as Primrose Mill, The Tannery in Embsay is one of the largest industrial building complexes within the National Park. Tannery use on the site began in 1917 when the site was bought and developed by Brooksbank of Bradford. Before that the site had been used for the processing of worsted, cotton and tobacco. The worsted spinning mill was erected around 1791 and part of its structure survives within the later tannery buildings. Power came from two water wheels. In 1836 the mill, now known as Primrose Mill, was sold to a partnership which used it to spin cotton and process tobacco. After 1891 the mill was entirely turned over to tobacco production. During this period the mill was significantly extended. Tobacco production ceased around 1908 possibly caused by a major flood in the area at the time. The mill buildings remained empty until 1917 when Brooksbank bought them. They constructed a lime yard and effluent tanks and extended the complex yet further. Art Deco style offices were added in 1938 and there was more building work in 1947.
Brooksbank continued to process leather on site until the end of the 20th century when modern synthetic materials were brought in to replace the leather items they were producing for the weaving industry. The company has now relocated and in 2004 the mill buildings are scheduled for demolition.
Embsay Tannery from the air MYD32915. Courtesy of the Brooksbank family
Embsay Tannery interior MYD32915. Courtesy of the Brooksbank family