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Calder Mill, Hebden Bridge

Application to clear a site just outside of Hebden Bridge, Calderdale:

Not the best photo, but all I could find on Street View

Between Hebden Bridge and Mytholm is a valley which has not changed in 150 years. Having cycled down the canal here many times, I can attest to the fact that this is one of the most special places in the country. This valley up in the Pennine hills is a time machine to the industrial revolution.

Sadly Calder Mill was gutted by fire in 2019, and has been deemed unsafe (although the two main factory buildings look unscathed in my opinion) and the site is in the process of being cleared and redeveloped.

The map from circa 1900 shows the area to have been much more built up than it is now. It is a shame that this townscape is being slowly eroded.

An artist’s impression of the scheme by Matthew Bladon/Moreton Deakin Associates

The proposal to replacement the mill has made a noble effort at preserving the vernacular, with roofs that take their form from the mill’s north light roof. Yes the speckled stone, the relationship with the street, and the lack of any arches result in a proposal that is somewhat pastiche. Probably the best we could hope for, but another example of why it is impossible to recreate heritage buildings. Hopefully they will develop the damp green patina of the Calder Valley in the next 50 years.

The Old Mill, Morley

Small Victorian warehouse to be cleared for housing in Morley:

Modest attractive warehouse to be lost on Station Road in Morley. Its hard to appreciate from the image but the street here is quite a dramatic scene due to the levels being so steep. The mix of stone and brick of the townscape complement the leafy green bank. Its a shame a developer couldn’t see value in converting the building to flats, as it is robust and would save a lot of carbon emissions.

Buildings like this usually don’t get a second look, but wouldn’t it be great if at pre-app, the council would encourage the reuse of the building, and make it clear huge amounts of weight in the planning balance would be given to such a scheme.

West Vale Mill offices, Calderdale

Application to clear the remaining buildings on a former mill site:

West Vale Mill, the demolition of which has been piecemeal throughout the last decade, was a stunning stone-built campus around which this village developed. The mill building, was lost a few years ago and was covered on this website. Now the last remaining vestige is to be removed.

Strangely, the mill offices pictured above are a perfectly domestic scale and aesthetic. Put some front doors on there and you’ve got a row of cottages. People still like cottages right? I imagine the developer, and possibly the planning team at Calderdale will have made a stink over the lack of adequate off-street parking, condemning this terrace to demolition.

The same can be said for the entire complex shown in the image below. I cannot think of a more perfect industrial Yorkshire townscape than the former West Vale Mill, now all gone. The market has proven time and time again that stone built industrial refurbishments outperform new builds on the market every time. People want character. These buildings did not have to be lost.

Not to mention the amount of embedded carbon that would be saved. Flattening a site and rebuilding it is hardly sustainable. No amount of locally grown broccoli from Todmorden is going to offset that.

Brass workshop, Bradford

Plans to demolish a backstreet Victorian workshop in Bradford:

This charming industrial corner site just outside of Bradford City Centre is to make way for two terraced houses, replacing the existing building on a like-for-like footprint.

The loss of the corner entrance is a shame, as are the chimneys that will no longer be a feature of this corner.

Let’s hope the new building (and specifically the conservation officers at the council) ensures that the materials of the elevations match th rest of the block.

Shoe and Boot Foundry, Leeds

Application to clear a site, which includes the industrial street frontage of Macaulay Street in Mabgate, Leeds:

Granted, these buildings are utilitarian industrial buildings, without any notable merit architecturally, however as the Mabgate area of Leeds is dependent on cultural regeneration, the crumbling historic tissue of the quarter is vital, particularly to anchor character and povide cues for the wave of forthcoming development.

The above is a shoe and boot foundary according to maps from the 1890s. The bracketing attached to the sofits presumably once held bold signage, and provides an interesting feature for the street. It shouldn’t take a huge leap of the imagination to see how such stock would appeal to the burgeoning student population in the area. Stick a micro brewery and tap room in there, and suddely Macaulay Street is a destination within the Mabgate mileiu.

If the buildings go, then Macauley Street will be bereft of identity, and become nothing more than an access road for the bin lorries serving the student blocks.

Its a hard sell, but retaining shabby and unardorned stock to punctuate a street front as the infil comes, is right out of Jane Jacobs’ playbook.

Millfold House, Rotherham

Demolition of Millfold House in Rotherham Town Centre:

Millfold House rotherham

In all honesty, no one will rue the loss of this building apart from the hardcore conservationists. Of which I am one.

Built in 1936, I am fond of this building because it represents the last wave of industrial buildings that also attempted to integrate into townscape. These workshops have a better frontage that most modern commercial buildings, which is quite a feat for the town of Rotherham. The buildings demonstrate that the lost art of industrial architecture remained with us until relatively recently.

I’d like to see this building retained because it is meaningful; it encloses an important corridor into the town centre as industry transforms into civic architecture. The building shows that there is an answer to the desolate inner-city rim that plagues post-industrial urban centres.

Props to the developer who commissioned a heritage statement for the building. I’ve seen much more important buildings reduced to rubble without such consideration.

Phoenix Mills, Huddersfield

Conditions discharged to allow demolition of mil building in Huddersfield:

pheonix mills

The last of the old buildings down Leeds Road in central Huddersfield, permission was granted to level this site way back in 2014, but it looks like it will finally be dropped over the next few weeks.

Although an unassuming building, the stark silhouette of the mill is vital to the townscape of the Town centre’s fridge. The utilitarian architecture of the mill a reminder of the golden age of this town’s industrial heritage.

Sad to see that more B2 corrugated tin shacks will take its place, which offers a much lower intensity of land usage, and provides inflexible space. Victorian mills can be used in so many more interesting ways, and when utilised properly create hubs of diverse commercial and industrial uses; not jus artists’ workshops and vegan cafes.

Gatehouse in Bradford

Plans to demolish a listed gatehouse in Bradford:


Bradford gatehouse.jpg

(image from Telegrah and Argus)

Dating back to the 1860s and no longer able to support itself, plans to flatten this building are being determined by Bradford Council.

An excellent piece by Chris Young in the Telegraph and Argus details the case very well.

The loss of a listed building to extend a car park is unacceptable, particularly as Bradford have already seen 6 listed buildings demolished within 3 years.




Alexandra Works in East Keighley

The last aspect of the Alexandra Works campus in Keighley:

The last remaining building of the former Alexandra Works complex in Keighley will soon be demolished following the clearance of the rest of the site a few years ago.

Alexandra Mill Keighley.JPGYou can view the original mill buildings in the area by browsing Google maps street view and setting the view to the archived images. A lot of quirky Victorian architecture has been lost here. It is lamentable, but sadly in the fringes of a town such as Keighley the property market is limited and uses for sites such as this come solely in the tin shed industrial space format.

Perhaps if Keighley had capitalised on its Victorian culture in the way Saltaire, Hebden Bridge, or  Skipton have, the demand for residential or start-up space in former industrial buildings would exist. Keighley should try to attempt to emulate the relationship Ilkley has with Bradford, and reposition itself as a small town that offers escape from the bigger city, yet with more amenity than the villages.

Planners must realise it is their responsibility to create housing markets in this way and foster regeneration through reviving history and culture.

There has been some press recently about the loss of mills in Northern England, and it has highlighted that there has been nothing short of a cull. We need to recognise that these buildings are temples from an erstwhile era, and that somehow Brtain of modernity emerged from this mythical antiquity that now seems distant and unrecognisable. Every culture needs its mythos.


Walk Mills, Keighley

Mid 18th century mill to be demolished in Keighley:

Walk Mills Keighley.JPG

(forgive the quality of the image. There doesn’t seem to be any images of this building outside of Google Street View. Lets hope it is properly recorded before being smashed up)

Whilst reading the heritage statement (which always seem to have been complied by a wrecking ball salesmen), I noticed the reference to a pre-application meeting. Frankly, if a planning application comes forward following pre-application negotiations, then a decision has already been made, and the democratic right to publicly comment is devoid of meaning.

When a developer has sat around a table with council officers, having paid a grand for the privilege, they expect to get an expeditious planning approval.

So the fate of this remarkable building is already sealed. I will comment, and urge others to do so as well, however, the machinations within local government that will lead to the demise of this mill have been concluded.

I recommend reading the heritage assessment, as it is fascinating to see how  ‘heritage experts’ justify the loss of an assets like this with exceptionally tenuous arguments.

NB – also a big loss to the setting of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, which runs alongside this mill complex.