Report - - Herdmans Flax Mill (Sion Mills, Northern Ireland, Jan, 2020) | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Herdmans Flax Mill (Sion Mills, Northern Ireland, Jan, 2020)


28DL Regular User
Regular User
I usually go to Ireland for New Year, but not this time, so here’s one from last year when I spent a couple of days in the north looking for the remains of water-powered machinery, mainly in flax mills.

This one has been covered several times before, and with good reason - it has to be the best example of a derelict hydroelectric plant in the UK. Here are the previous reports:


I really went for the (water) turbines, if only to see what sort they were, but the rest is well worth a wander.

It’s similar to Barbour Threads in Hilden in that the machinery was removed long ago, leaving empty buildings with a few mill-related scraps lying around.

Nevertheless, as with the Hilden Mills this somehow doesn’t matter, although compared to previous reports the place is definitely looking more battered these days.

Luckily the mills are mostly of fireproof construction, so it’s mainly just the wooden roofs which have gone after all the arson attacks.

The visit itself didn’t go entirely to plan - it was raining on and off and the battery in my camera ran out 2/3rds of the way round followed shortly after by the battery in my elderly iphone.

But no matter - it’s all been seen before.

I won’t do a full history, just add something about the various buildings as we go along, taken mostly from https://apps.communities-ni.gov.uk/Buildings/buildview.aspx?id=5913&js=false.

Roadside view - a collection of buildings mainly from the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Looking north with the mill race from the River Mourne coming in on the right.

View south, with turbine halls nearest on the left and main mill buildings on the right.

The remains of a modern (1988) textile mill on the southern side - just big empty sheds containing a leftover winding/reeling machine.

The ‘old mill’ on the east of the site next to river. This was originally a corn mill (1832) which was rebuilt and extended for flax processing (1867-79).

Mostly phone pictures from here.

A few from various buildings on either side of the main mill.

The burnt one with the panelling was presumably offices/admin.

A modernised building next to the chimney north of the main mill which seems to have been last used as a community centre.

The main mill (1853) which was steam powered from 1867 and finally shut in 1989.



28DL Regular User
Regular User
Looking down on a turbine hall which was added to the old mill in 1900, replacing water wheels with water turbines.

This is now a modern (2016) hydroelectric plant with Kaplan turbines (ca. 800 kW) connected to the national grid.

A slightly out of date satellite view showing the water coming in from the right and exiting through the two turbine halls, with the small one on the left being derelict.

The shorter turquoise arrows are overflows/spillways.

The Mourne has a fierce flow all year round, so it does to be sure, which is why the mill, and subsequently the village of Sion Mills, was built here in the first place.

Trying to look through one of the windows of the live and humming turbine hall one can just about see blue alternators and a modern control panel.

Round the back where the water comes out.

The little derelict turbine hall next door, which was built in 1919 to provide electricity (135 hp worth) for the mill and village.

I think this is where the water came out round the back.

Inside, the roof is beginning to collapse. There are two big Gilkes turbines here and the remains of two generators.

Control rods for moving the guide vanes inside the turbines.

Water inlet - it exited down through the floor.

Disgraceful graffiti.

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Down and beyond

I am just developing the mine by improving access
Regular User
Absolutely cracking mate really enjoyed that one of my favourites!


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Smashing stuff, that! Loving the overgrown turbines(?) in the second half, cracking detail in the images.
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Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
Stunning place, so photogenic & interesting. Love how nature is coming through the floor. Also what a great shot of moving water. What's not to like here. Cracking report, fully narrated & covered well. Loved it :thumb


grumpy sod
Regular User
One day at some point maybe hopefully this year I'll make it over there to see these impressive beasts for myself...


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
really want to go round this place my mum and dad live in Strabane and my cousin live in sion mills walks his dogs down there nearly every day

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