Life at the old Bobbin Mill

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28 January 2016 5:20PM

Jean Campbell Cooper lived at the old Ulpha Bobbin Mill, near Millom, and was best known as a breeder of prize-winning Labradors. 

She had moved to Ulpha in 1945 with her late husband, a naval commander. Mrs Cooper had an interest in golden retrievers before the war but then specialised in Labradors. The Millom News in August 1961 noted: “A friend first introduced Mrs Cooper to the idea of breeding Labradors, and after small beginnings, her reputation with these companionable dogs has grown. “As a reward for her enviable patience with her dogs, Mrs Cooper has won the supreme Labrador of the show award at Crufts for the past two years.” Six dogs lived at the old bobbin mill in 1961, with names including Breeze, Echo and Willow. Mrs Cooper had a degree in philosophy from St Andrew’s University, was a town magistrate and chairman of the governors at Millom School. She officially declared open the new school swimming pool at the start of June in 1961. She also wrote several books on world religions Mrs Cooper had been born in Chefoo, Northern China on November 27 in 1905. She had lived in Australia and London – and had travelled round the world twice. She died at the age of 93 in July 1999. Her husband’s parents had once been owned of Duddon Hall, near Broughton. By 1961 it was an empty shell. She said: “We first came on leave in 1942 and settled here after the war.” The old bobbin mill had been divided into two homes. Wooden bobbin for the textile mills of Lancashire used to be made at the mill until 1910. The raw material for the mill came from cutting lengths of wood from coppiced woodlands in the Ulpha district and working them into shape on lathes and coring machines. Water power had been used in the early days of the mill but a turbine had taken over in later years. The Millom News noted: “The first thing Mrs Cooper’s husband did was to instal his own hydro-electric plant, which is still running today and which the occupants of the Bobbin Mill would not be without. “The original beams of the mill are still intact but the millstones themselves had to be taken away during the last war in case they were used for grinding corn in defiance of the food rationing laws. “The rest of the mill has not changed much through the years and still retains some of its ancient charm in the ivy-covered stonework and curious chimney. “Nestling in the Duddon Valley, the Bobbin Mill is one of the few unspoiled reminders of yesteryear. “Those Labradors do not know how lucky they are to have so quaint a home.”

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