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Report - Fern Mill, Huddersfield - April 2016

Discussion in 'Industrial Sites' started by tweek, May 23, 2016.

  1. tweek

    tweek Huddersfield Tourist Information Board
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    Fern Mill, Huddersfield - April 2016

    This is a humble little mill in the town centre I visited on my bill. Not the greatest thing you'll see today - especially as my already underexposed 35mm photos were scratched by an incompetent Asda employee before scanning - but there was a nice surprise find awaiting me inside.

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    The local rag stated recently that this mill was 'originally used as a canalside warehouse after it was built at the end of the 1800s', and it does indeed appear named on an 1890 map of the town. But they also spoke to Huddersfield historian, Alan Brooke, and he believes it may have once been called Readfearn's Mill, which changed hands several times. If Alan is correct, and it seems feasible to me, the mill probably dates back beyond the Examiner's estimate to around 1860.

    He said: “I can’t make an issue of its history since I don’t know it for sure but it is in the same place of Fern Mills. From what I recollect it is of no great architectural merit, nevertheless, if it was demolished it would be another sad loss of for our much diminished textile industrial heritage. This is essential to the character of the town, especially if it also has a canal link.”

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    I've not managed to find a great deal of information on Fern Mill from the twentieth century, other than it was struck by a fire in 1908. Before becoming unoccupied, the previous owners were Beevers and Barrett Ltd, a cardboard packagers. The company was set up on 01 Jan 1946, although I don't know if they resided here from then. Beevers and Barrett went bust in 2002. For as long as I can remember, the mill has been derelict and in a sorry looking state. From the canal footpath you can seen through the empty window bays, and it just appears totally gutted. Therefore, I'd always forgiven myself for overlooking it as having any real potential.

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    However, over the past couple of years I've been increasingly spurred on by my local environs, as just when you think you've seen most of what it's got to offer, little surprises and new leads appear from under your nose. Recently I noticed 'For Sale' signs replaced with 'Sold at Auction' signs, and given that I've had some luck in the town of late, I found myself nearby, on a sunny day, with a camera (and some cans) and I made the effort to at least finally see what's what before the opportunity was lost.

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    Initially, I thought this was going to be a doddle, but after climbing into the internal courtyard it became apparent that, barring a couple of empty rooms on the ground floor, the upper floors of the main mill were going to be a bit more difficult than I had anticipated, and at first I was stumped. Eventually, and somewhat reluctantly, I realised there was only one way, and not a particularly fun one. After a very drawn out and awkward climb, a tight squeeze and a broken-glass-finger-slicing episode, I finally got inside and was immediately treated for my efforts...

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    This is a "Diamond" Guillotine made by the firm Dawson, Payne and Elliott Ltd, Otley. The firm has quite some heritage:
    By 1921, the company was part of Dawson, Payne and Elliott Ltd, after the competing firms of the original pioneers were amalgamated following the upheavals of working through the First World War.

    The firm were still producing these particular machines up into the 1950s - so we have a thirty-year window there with which to date this behemoth.

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    The rest of the premises was largely empty, other than for the presence of dozens of dead pigeons that had been quite grotesquely ripped open and gutted. At first I thought it was probably foxes, until I got to the top floors and was startled by a sizeable sparrowhawk swooping past my head. Mystery solved.

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    A few little signs knocking about too, but the unexpected prize of the guillotine, and the remarkable history of the company who produced it, was good enough for me to feel pleased I'd at least checked it out before it was too late.

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    :Not Worthy


     
    #1 tweek, May 23, 2016
    Last edited: May 23, 2016

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  2. Yorrick

    Yorrick 28DL Regular User
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    Lovely. Jealous of your "local environs"... but lovely as always.
     
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  3. Ojay

    Ojay Admin
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    Excellent write up
     
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  4. ZerO81

    ZerO81 Team Weasel
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    Looks like a quaint little place does that, the film shots really add to it as well.
     
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  5. Mr Beady

    Mr Beady Over 8
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    Very nicely shot and reported lad.
     
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  6. degenerate

    degenerate 28DL Full Member
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    Nice one, I remember checking this out a few months back when I was looking at the sports centre but couldn't be arsed climbing in then due to rain, I wish I had now. Glad you're out there covering Huddersfield :thumb
     
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  7. Camera Shy

    Camera Shy Old enough to know better
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    Always a pleasure to read your reports, and scratches or not the pics are ace.
     
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  8. Fudge

    Fudge 28DL Regular User
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    Splored.
     
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  9. dweeb

    dweeb Super Moderator
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    Lovely, the stained glass is a nice touch...

    Why is the "Diamond" on the piss? Rotten floor?
     
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  10. tweek

    tweek Huddersfield Tourist Information Board
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    Thanks peeps! Kind words.

    The weight of the machine is pushing the bastard down through the floor.

    It was quite disconcerting as I was getting close to photograph the Brook Motors switch box.
     
  11. scrappy

    scrappy 28DL Regular User
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    looking good, liking the old machinery.
     
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  12. Bolts

    Bolts 28DL Regular User
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    Boshing local stuff is always good, it's all I seem to do :thumb
    The Diamond is a really nice touch too, sounds like it was worth the effort to get there
     
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  13. host

    host 28DL Regular User
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    Excellent as ever mate, i love the dust and scratches too, its a nice touch.
     
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  14. wellingtonian

    wellingtonian Subterráneo
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    Loving that fella. Very interesting report. Cheers :thumb
     
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  15. dave

    dave 28DL Regular User
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    Very nice loving the signage too well worth all the effort i reckon.
     
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