A project to transform a 250-year-old water mill in England's Yorkshire Dales into a means of producing hydroelectric power is nearing completion, thanks to a £53,600 (US$100.7M) grant from the UK Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs's (Defra) Rural Enterprise scheme.

York mill, located at Aysgarth falls in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire, was built in 1752 as a water powered cotton mill, and in 1937 two hydroelectric turbines were installed in place of the water wheel. These remained in good working order until 1969, when the mill closed down after its turbines fell into disuse.

In 1993, pig farmers David and Ann Kiely acquired the mill as a diversification enterprise. When the UK’s foot and mouth crisis hurt their pork and sausage business, they looked to restore the more than 50-year-old commercial turbines and associated features (such as the mill race and sluice gates) in order to generate electricity to sell to the national grid. The mill is capable of generating 55kW per hour – enough to supply 100 households.

York mill is a grade 2 listed structure – which means that it is to be preserved as a ‘particularly important building of more than special interest’.