A grand building in its day! The site was originally conceived as the National Machine Gun Factory but by the time construction was completed in November 1918 the First World War was over and no machine guns were ever manufactured there. Crosse & Blackwell briefly used the factory for producing pickle (Branston Pickle) between 1920 and 1925 and the Branston Artificial Silk Company produced Rayon there between 1927 and 1930. During the Second World War a major ordnance facility known as the Branston Depot was established on the site: the depot closed in 1961 when operations moved to Bicester. Parts of the site were used for the storage of components for Royal Ordnance between 1964 and 1975 and more recently parts of the site have been developed for housing.
Bowman Thompson & Company originally owned the site but was sold in 1900 to Brunner Mond whom with a seven year closure reconstructed the site producing sixty tonnes of soda ash a day. This figure rose to 800 tonnes a day in 1926 with all of the Brunner Mond assets being turned over to ICI. Lostock a coal fired powerstation was decommissioned in 2000 when E.ON built there new Combined Heat & Power plant at Winnington.
The station was first used by the Royal Flying Corps in 1916 but was not brought into use for flying until July 1918 by the Royal Air Force. During the inter-war years and continuing through the Second World War until 1950 Upper Heyford was used mainly as a training facility. During the Cold War, Upper Heyford initially served as a base for United States Air Force Strategic Air Command (SAC) strategic bombers and later United States Air Forces In Europe (USAFE) tactical reconnaissance, fighter and fighter-bomber aircraft in the UK. Upper Heyford was unique among bases in the United Kingdom as only the flight-line area required military identification to access. The rest of the base, save the commercial facilities, was accessible to military and non-military alike. Upper Heyford was also unique in that the airspace around the base (from the surface to 3500′) was protected by a mandatory radio area (UHMRA) in which private pilots were required to be in contact with the base controllers on frequency 128.55 when flying past or overhead.
Reed’s Board and Paper Mill at Colthrop near Thatcham was a major local employer. Work started on the main building in 1955 and it was completed in 1958. There is very little left of the premises today, but if you’re passing by and it’s a nice day it’s worth a visit.
The silk manufacturing firm of Wardle & Davenport began in 1867 as a partnership between Henry Wardle of Leek, innkeeper and photographer, and George Davenport of Leek, silk throwster. It became a public company in 1899. The company pioneered the manufacture of artificial silk stockings. At its peak, the company employed up to 2500 people but struggled in the 1960s, finally going into receivership in 1970.
This lovely old church was found purely by accident and was given away by the smart water stickers all over the sealed front door. However, on finding the classic Urbexer’s back door it revealed to hold a lot of fascinating features and artifacts and a lovely set of bells in the bell tower. Coincidently, on leaving, a local passerby informed me that the church closed in 1972 and the final service was a christening. She should know too – as it was her daughter’s.
The Trent and Mersey Canal was conceived as a way to provide a link between Liverpool and Hull, passing through the Potteries. It was authorised by an Act of Parliament in 1766, and with James Brindley acting as engineer, its 93 miles (150 km) were completed eleven years later in 1777. Brindley also built the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, which was begun at much the same time as the Trent and Mersey, and was completed in 1772. It joined the Trent and Mersey Canal at Great Haywood, and was part of his Grand Cross plan to link four English estuaries: the Humber, Thames, Severn and Mersey. Haywood Junction therefore became a major transport interchange.
A huge industrial site in Derbyshire. Wandered around for an entire afternoon and still didn’t cover half of it, fascinating industrial buildings old and new on a massive scale! Big thanks to Speed for being our tour guide on this one, Here’s some history: ‘British Celanese was a chemical company based in England. Formed in 1916, it survived as an independent company until 1957 when it became a subsidiary of Courtaulds. The origins of the company lie with two brothers, Henri and Camille Dreyfus. In 1912 they set up “Cellonit Gesellschaft Dreyfus and Co” in Basel, Switzerland. In 1916 the brothers were invited to live in Britain by the British Government, to produce their recently developed cellulose acetate dope for the war effort; the canvas skins of aircraft of the time were sealed and made taut with nitrocellulose dope, which was easily ignited by bullets. They developed the necessary plant and “British Cellulose and Chemical Manufacturing Co” was registered on March 18, 1916. The British Government patented the process developed by Henri Dreyfus, which lowered the costs of acetic anhydride production, an important reagent in the production of cellulose acetate. At the end of World War I, the British Government cancelled all contracts and the company changed to produce acetate fibres. In 1923 the company name was changed to British Celanese Ltd, a contraction of cellulose and ease. Softer and stronger, as well as being cheaper to produce than other fabrics used at the time such as satin […]
“Cwm coke works is a large site just north of Beddau in Rhondda Cynon Taf. Up until the mid 1800′s Beddau was a small collection of farmsteads at the conjunction of four crossroads. (Incidentally, Beddau, which means ‘graves’, may be a shortening of Croesheol y Beddau, ‘crossroads of the graves’, as it is marked on an ordnance survey map circa. 1833. Criminals were often hanged as crossroads as an example to others…). In the 1860′s coal pits were sunk around Beddau, and the town grew at a steady rate until 1909, which saw the opening of Cwm colliery. As the industry moved in, Beddau grew quickly, and in 1958 Cwm coke works opened, furthering the expansion. At its peak, Cwm colliery was producing hundreds of thousand of tons of high quality, low sulphur coal per year. Much of this was processed at Cwm coke works, into high-grade coke suitable for foundry use. The National Coal Board closed the colliery in 1986, and Cwm Coke works in 2002, leaving yet another small Welsh town deprived and forgotten.”
Derbyshire Royal Infirmary (DRI) was established in 1810 on land formerly part of Derby’s Castlefield estate on land near what is now Bradshaw Way and the A6 London Road. It was known as the Derbyshire General Infirmary at the time. In 1890 a Typhoid outbreak sweeped through the hospital, and the buildings design was blamed. The hospital is entirely demolished, a year later Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone of what would become Derbyshire Royal Infirmary. The neo-Jacobean building was completed in 1894, and its main features were its ‘Onion’ shaped domed towers and its central corridor which ran the length of the hospital. The hospital was expanded at several points in the 20th century, the most visible being the still used Wilderslowe Tower and the now disused A+E building built in 1970. The DRI as a result is an architectural mish-mash with the original hospital at its heart. In the late 90s, the NHS Trust’s for each hospital in Derby merged, and drew up a dramatic plan to consolidate the services of both hospital’s on one site. The so called ‘super hospital’, soon to be known as the Derby Royal Hospital is one of the largest in the region. There are no official plans to redevelop the now redundant Derbyshire Royal Infirmary, the land is covered by a large regeneration plan which will expand Derby’s city centre southwards into what is known as Castleward. The 1987 built part of the hospital shall continue to provide medical care, providing the […]
Construction of the glass factory began in 1919 but it apparently opened in 1922 at great cost to the Pilkington company which was established in 1826 over in St Helens. The site was chosen due to its canal side location and access to local coal and sand. In 1923 Pilkington’s, in collaboration with Ford in the States, developed a continuous flow process for the manufacture of glass plate and a method of continuous grinding. However in the 1950′s Pilkington’s developed the “float” method of glass production (the molten glass is poured onto a bath of molten tin at 1000C). This was much cheaper as it did not require the grinding and polishing processes. Pilkington’s quickly set about converting all their factories to this new technology with the exception of the Doncaster plant which retained the old method of production. At its peak the factory had around 3,000 employees but by 1966 the plant was only running at 56% capacity and eventually the doors closed in 2008. The site was then sold in 2009 and has remained abandoned ever since. I’m not sure what the plans are for the site but there certainly doesn’t seem to be any signs that the area is to be redeveloped.
Clipstone Colliery was built on the site of Clipstone Army Camp in 1926 by the Bolsover Mining Company. It was built as a model village with the latest housing and facilities to provide accommodation and recreation for the mines workers. In 1922 the shafts were sunk at Clipstone colliery to exploit the top hard seam. In 1950′s the National Coal Board Conducted a series of modernisations deepening the shafts and creating the present day head stocks. Standing at 65 meters they were once the second tallest in the world when they were built. The mine operated until July 2003 when it was decided the remaining reserves were no longer economical. Old Post from 2010 here