Archive | May 2016

Former Mechanics Institute, Keighley

Another loss to the town centre fabric of Keighley:

Currently used as part of Leeds College, the building is to be levelled to form a car park.

https://planning.bradford.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?previousCaseType=Property&previousKeyVal=LELNF7DH00200&activeTab=summary&previousCaseUprn=100051942909&previousCaseNumber=000M5MDHBU000&keyVal=O2P7AODHI0R00

 

keighley mech institute.jpg

Mechanics institutes are a mysterious thing of the past. You see the words embossed in stone on a building now occupied by Weatherspoons, somewhere in most industrial northern towns.

Nothing embodies the civic aspiration of the Victorians more than these institutions, and for that reason alone they are culturally indispensable. Rome had the agora, the Victorians had mechanics institutes.

We simply can not knock these temples down. Even the heritage statement (which was commissioned to support the demolition of this building) agrees.

Keighley loses beautiful buildings often. Warehouse shaped piles of rubble are found throughout. It is a town that struggles with identity, but until now has somehow retained a town centre that is a lot grander than its contemporary economic situation would attest.

The fact that at some point we were willing to develop diminutive small towns to the aesthetic standards of classical cities says a lot about our erstwhile civic pride.

We can’t let the last vestiges of local history in towns like Keighley be torn down for car parking space. Half of the original building was lost to fire some time ago. It was lucky the other half survived until now. Bradford council, please intercede.

 

 

Oughtibridge Mill, Sheffield

A large industrial site is to be cleared to make way for brownfield housing:

https://wwwapplications.barnsley.gov.uk/PlanningExplorerMVC/Home/ApplicationDetails?planningApplicationNumber=2016%2F0350

Oughtibridge Mill.JPG

Not an especially beautiful mill complex, however I am fond of this the sweeping road front. Makes you know just where you are.

In a perfect world this would be a mill shop. But we can’t save everything can we?

St Johns Hall, Cleckheaton

St Johns Hall, another Kirklees owned building is being pulled down:

https://www.kirklees.gov.uk/beta/planning-applications/search-for-planning-applications/detail.aspx?id=2016/90743https://www.kirklees.gov.uk/beta/planning-applications/search-for-planning-applications/detail.aspx?id=2016/90743

Cleckheaton scout hall.JPG

Although a diminutive building, these civic halls offered spaces for scout packs, brass bands, and various other institutions that make bolster social capitol. Sad to see this type of building go. I need not mention the importance of brass bands in social history.

Kirklees Council continue to plunder their building stock to brighten their balance sheets.
Strange that there is no system that separates powers when both the applicant and the decision maker are one and the same. No chance for the objectors at all.

Westfields, Knowle Park, Mirfield

Loss of another beautiful mansion house as councils continue to jetison their property:

https://www.kirklees.gov.uk/beta/planning-applications/search-for-planning-applications/detail.aspx?id=2016/90642

 

A great description of the building and the politics surrounding the sale and destruction of this piece of history can be found here:

Article in the Examiner can be found here

It infuriates me that the council claim ‘because it isn’t listed we can not stop the demolition of the buildng’ – well you could, firstly by not selling your historic building stock to volume house builders, and secondly by invoking an article 4 ruling. You really can keep ths building alive should you choose to.

You just want the money though. This generation will be looked upon as reckless iconoclasts one day

West Vale Works, Greetland

I’ve feared this one for a while now. An empty Victorian mill won’t stay put for long, what with all that brownfield land underneath it. The magnificent West Vale Works in Calderdale will be demolished:

https://portal.calderdale.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=O0U6L9DWL1400https://portal.calderdale.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=O0U6L9DWL1400

West Vale Mill 3

Heritage England contemplated listing the building, but it would seem that if another example of said building exists (ie a Victorian Mill) then protection is not warranted, regardless of how important the building is to the landscape or local context. I’m glad this logic did not apply to the Colosseum.

 

West Vale Mill

The rows of terraces lead to the mill, telling the story of daily life in Victorian West Yorkshire.

West Vale Mill 2

 

No one really knows about West Vale. Some argue that it doesn’t exist, and it is in fact Greetland. I’ll leave that decision to the people who live there. I do know however that driving through this village just outside of Elland is West Yorkshire embodied. Photos sadly can not capture how to feels to move through this town past these monuments.

So perfect is the industrial townscape of West Vale, I considered moving there. The loss of this mill and the onset of suburbia in its place will personally devastate me. One by one, the places which embody our Northern identity are being sterilised. We long for authenticity in life, and allowing the market to dictate land use in this way will soon render England soulless.