India mill was once a textile mill that operated between 1887 and 1991 in the industrial town of Darwen in the eastern part of Lancashire, England. The mill itself, though large and impressive for the time, was rather plain on the exterior. It appears as though most of the budget was spent on this magnificent brick chimney.
The structure is said to be inspired by the bell tower in St Mark’s Square, Venice. It dominates the skyline of Darwen. Apart from the chimney lacking the short spire of the campanile in Venice, one can certainly see the resemblance. The years of billowing out smoke has left the Darwen version looking rather dirty.
It stands 303 feet tall, but when completed, it was slightly higher. The chimney was once crowned by a cast-iron capping (forming a balustrade), weighing over 20 tons. However, in support of Britain’s war effort during World War II, it was removed and melted to produce armaments.
As an added bonus for visitors, close to the chimney are two other items of industrial heritage; a massive steam engine from the mill itself and a printing machine that reflects the other important industry in Darwen, the printing of wallpaper.
During the last renovation of the tower, several nest boxes were installed to encourage the return of peregrine falcons that had nested on the tower before the remedial works. Reports indicate that they were breeding successfully in 2021.
The mill has been subdivided into separate commercial units.
Know Before You Go
India mill is an eight-minute walk from Darwen rail station. Head south towards Bolton Rd. There is some on-street car parking very close to the mill gates.