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Report - Lune Mills (James Williamson Linoleum) - Lancaster, May 2012

Discussion in 'Industrial Sites' started by Idle Hands, May 27, 2012.

  1. Idle Hands

    Idle Hands 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

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    It was a scorching hot day at work, and I really wanted to spend the evening in a tranquil and sundrenched wasteland. Obviously I didn’t mention this at work – they’d think I was mad. I’ve had the old Lune Mills site in mind for some time now and having daydreamed my way through the day, decided that this was going to be the time to get out and finally do it.

    A bit of history…

    The New Quay was the third Luneside port development when it appeared in 1787, extending further west than the earlier St Georges and Ford Quays (1749 & 1767 respectively). By the early 19th century however, the port of Lancaster was in decline, though it had contributed great wealth to the area. Industries such as cloths and furniture developed as a result of the overseas trade, and industrialists such as James Williamson set up business, in his case a coated fabric factory. It was his son though, also known as James (though subsequently also known as Lord Ashton and The Lino King) that took advantage of the failing shipyards and acquired the Lune Mills site in the 1870s. Rapid expansion followed and the site eventually nudged 21 acres in size. The world, it seemed, couldn’t get enough of wipe-clean floor coverings, and at the time production was peaking in the 1950s linoleum was adorning the floors of houses up and down the country. Some local authorities even stipulated that a foot wide section of lino must be maintained around the rooms in their council housing stock. Business was booming.

    Historically Lancaster had been the scene of many an Anglo-Scottish skirmish, so it was with rather a cruel irony that Williamson’s was bought by Nairn’s of Kirkcaldy the following decade, who wound the Lancaster operation down and transferred much of the business north of the border. The site closed in 1999.

    Where in the past the City’s major employers were the industrial family firms of Williamson and Storey, today it is the two universities. And as if to come full circle, a detailed report written in 2009 sets out plans for the University of Lancaster to redevelop the Lune Mills site as their city centre campus – though as yet there seems to be no immediate plan to realise this vision.

    So 13 years after it closed, much of it has been demolished and the rest seemingly left to rot. You can see the site clearly from Castle Hill, great skeletal structures sitting menacingly on the quayside, but when you actually get down there they aren’t quite as imposing. Until you get into the site itself that is…

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    This is one of the key remaining structures identified by the report as structurally sound
    and potentially re-usable. You have to admire that for optimism.

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    The floor seems to have completely collapsed now - I'd seen some pictures from last year
    where you could still get underneath. No more. You can still get up the stairs though...

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    The power plant: Not much to see on the inside. The wind was blowing like a
    bitch in spite of the heat, making all this rusting metalwork creak and groan...

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    The next mill along was also identified for potential re-use. This one was in slightly better condition...

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    The pumping station. It seems to have been used more recently as some kind of car workshop.

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    Much of the brick built complex was built using stock from a local company at Claughton that remained in business
    until a couple of years ago when the site was mothballed. The shiny ones in the pump house came from Leeds though.

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    The wallpaper showroom was in a sorry state, with the roof already caved in and some of the walls demolished and left.

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    The Gatehouse:

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    Parting shots...

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    So it was a nice solo explore in the sun, not too much left to get excited about and slightly disappointing for that, but worthwhile all the same.

    Thanks for looking :)​
     

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