North and South : Locations
Four locations were used as Marlborough Mills. The exterior shots of the mill-yard and the Thorntons' house were filmed at Dalton Mills in Keighley. The interiors of the mill were filmed at Queen St Mill, Burnley, and at the Helmshore Mills Textile Museum, Rossendale. And the interior scenes in the Thorntons' house were filmed at a Georgian town-house in London. Elizabeth Gaskell, writing in the 1850s, described the Thorntons' house as having been built "some fifty or sixty years", so this house, dating from the 1790s, is actually closer in period than the building at Dalton Mills whose exterior we see in North and South. Two interconnecting rooms were transformed with heavy wallpaper, draperies and furniture into the Thorntons' mid-Victorian drawing room and dining room.
The scenes in the mill-yard were filmed at Dalton Mills, on the eastern edge of Keighley, Yorkshire. Dalton Mills was actually a woollen mill, constructed from 1866 onwards.
Richard Armitage said of the filming here, "A really important moment for me was when we arrived in Keighley, which was about three weeks into filming, and I finally saw the mill. This is his empire and it had a profound effect on me which I wasn’t actually aware of at the time, but I grew about two inches, I think."  It may not be clear from the scenes we see in North and South just how impressive in size the mill is. In the drama, we only see the mill-yard, but the mill complex is in fact much larger, consisting of several separate mills. These two photographs give some idea of the scale of Dalton Mills.
There is another mill the same size as Genappe Mill behind it and running roughly parallel with it, called New Mill. And to the left of the gateway as you enter the mill-yard is Tower Mill, the building that can be seen in the distance in the photograph on the right. Tower Shed lies along the left hand side of the mill-yard as you enter it.
Dalton Mills was still operating as a mill into the 1980s, albeit on a very reduced scale. It was sold in 1991. The buildings around the mill yard have been used by small businesses for several years, but the rest of the mill has been neglected.
The BBC now has a studio at Dalton Mills. In autumn 2008, BBC One's magazine programme, Sunday Life was broadcast live from the studio each Sunday morning, with the mill-yard also being used for some parts of the programme.
On New Year's Day 2011, a major fire broke out at Dalton Mills, resulting in the collapse of part of one of the mills. The area around the mill-yard, as seen on North and South, survived the fire. News reports from BBC News, Keighley News and the Bradford Telegraph and Argus describe the fire.
Queen St mill was one of a number of mills in the Harle Syke area of Burnley. It was used for the scenes in the weaving shed at 'Marlborough Mills' - for example, when we first see John Thornton looking out over his workers, and when he stands in his empty mill after it has closed, talking to Higgins and little Tom Boucher. Queen St was a weaving mill, with this one large weaving shed and some ancilliary areas. It was built in 1894 as a workers' co-operative.
Other scenes of the interior of 'Marlborough Mills' were filmed in Whitaker's Mill, one of two mills that form the Helmshore Mills Textile Museum. The older of the two mills, Higher Mill, was built in 1789 for fulling woollen cloth. Whitaker's Mill was used for spinning waste cotton - it produced a soft, coarse thread suitable for flannelette, dishcloths etc.
On the first floor of Whitaker's Mill is the large spinning room, containing condenser spinning mules that date from 1903. They're still used to demonstrate the spinning process to visitors, and to produce thread that is sent to Queen St to be woven. Several scenes were filmed here.
A few steps above the spinning room, and looking out over it, is the Carders' Cabin. Three scenes set in John Thornton's office were filmed here. (The shots of him looking out onto the mill-yard late at night were filmed at Dalton Mills, as explained above.)
With windows all round, the spinning room is actually quite light. To make it look darker for filming, dozens of heddles were brought over from Queen St mill and hung from the ceiling. (Heddles are used on a weaving loom - the warp threads are threaded though them so that alternate threads can be lifted up to allow the shuttle to pass between them.)
The picture on the left shows the view from the Carders' Cabin (Thornton's office) out over the spinning room, and the heddles can be seen hanging from the ceiling. They can also be seen in the picture of Mrs Thornton and Margaret in the empty spinning room, further up the page. The photograph on the right shows the heddles hanging up at Queen St mill where they're usually kept.
Below the spinning floor is the Devil Hole, a passage used for storing and packing. Conditions here would have been hellish; the cotton bales were unpacked and the cotton blended before being sent upstairs to the carding engines. Of all the parts of the mill, this is the one that would have been full of cotton fluff floating in the air. Margaret is seen walking along this corridor on her first visit to the mill.
 Interview with Richard Armitage on the North and South DVD.
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