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Report - Millenium Mills, Pontoon docks, London, October 2014

Discussion in 'Industrial Sites' started by slayaaaa, Oct 21, 2014.

  1. slayaaaa

    slayaaaa 28DL Regular User
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    Millenium Mills

    Intro

    I wasn't going to compose a report, but after a few requests on an update etc. I've given in.

    Everyone seemed to be raving about this place for years and thought I'd finally pop along, going to be honest, despite being an awesome site, it wasn't as epic as it claims to be on here! Good, nice and high, well decayed and very photogenic, but quite empty and personally didn't feel it! But that's my opinion, that's not to say I hated it, because I thoroughly enjoyed the visit and glad I finally got off my arse to do it.

    Well, as usual, I shall fill this with all the info I can, skip to the bottom section for the photos!

    History

    The Millennium Mills is a derelict turn of 20th century flour mill in West Silvertown on the south side of the Royal Victoria Dock, between the Thames Barrier and the ExCel exhibition centre alongside the newly built Britannia village, in Newham, London, England. Along with Millennium Mills, there remains a small section of the now destroyed Rank Hovis Premier Mill and a restored grade II listed grain silo, labelled the ‘D’ silo. Described as a "decaying industrial anachronism standing defiant and alone in the surrounding subtopia", the Millennium Mills has become a well-loved icon of post-industrial Britain and has made its way into many aspects of popular culture, being used as a backdrop in films and television shows such as Ashes to Ashes and Derek Jarman's The Last of England. Millennium Mills is also a destination for Urban Explorers despite high security, dangers of structural weakness, ten-storey drops and asbestos, and there are many reports and internal photos of the site.

    During the early half of the 20th century, the Royal Victoria Dock became an essential part of industrial Britain and London’s largest centre of flour milling. The rail and water transport links made it an ideal location for business as well as a centre for international trade and commerce. The Cooperative Wholesale Society (CWS) was the first of the large nationwide milling companies to establish a flour mill in the area, with the opening of the Silvertown confectionery in 1901. Joseph Rank Limited would soon follow with the establishment of the Premier Mill at the Royal Dock in 1904. Vernon & Sons were the last to set up in the area when they built Millennium Mills. These mills, operated by Britain's three largest milling companies, converted imported grain from overseas into flour for the London market and were the first in the Port of London designed to take imported grain direct from the ships.

    Millennium Mills was designed and built by millers William Vernon & Sons of West Float, Birkenhead in 1905 with construction overseen by W. A. Vernon, the principal's son. The mills were extensive, featuring two plants, equipped by Henry Simon Ltd, that had a capacity of 100 sacks per hour. W. A. Vernon described the mills in a single word as "palatial". Vernon and Sons named the mill after their most successful product, a flour variety which they called "Millennium Flour" after winning the "The Miller Challenge Cup" at the 1899 International Bakers Exhibition. The flour had been selected from "the best wheats of the world" and was put through a carefully designed industrial process. The victory gained Vernon and Sons "world-wide fame" and dominance in the English flour market. Millennium Flour was aimed at the rising 20th-century masses, proving particularly popular in the mining districts, where it was known to make "beautiful white bread sandwiches". The erection of Millennium Mills at the Royal Victoria Dock meant that this new flour could be brought to the Southern England market.

    — Betts, former fireman, account of the Silvertown explosion


    All of these mills were partially destroyed in 1917 by the Silvertown explosion at Brunner Mond's munitions factory on the North Woolwich Road that was manufacturing explosives for Britain's World War I military effort. The Brunner Mond works was about 100 yards east of where Millennium Mills stood, and the adjoining grain silos and flour warehouses were amongst the 17 acres of buildings that the Port of London Authority estimated were affected.

    In 1920, Vernon & Sons was taken over by Spillers Limited at which time the Millennium Mills was acquired. Spillers was an established flour milling business founded in 1829, which subsequently went into the production of dog food and animal feeds by 1927. The Spillers name remains prominent on the east and west wings of the building.

    Millennium Mills was rebuilt as a 10-storey concrete art deco building in 1933.

    Many port mills throughout the country sustained severe damage from bombing in the Second World War; almost 75 per cent of the national capacity was concentrated at the ports, which made them primary targets for air attacks. In London, Spillers' Millennium Mills as well as Rank's Premier Mills were substantially destroyed. Between 1945 and 1950 the ports underwent large-scale post-war reconstruction despite a deficit of raw materials and strict licensing. At this time Millennium Mills was rebuilt, including a windowless steel-framed infill on the west side, and was in operation by September 1953.


    Closure - Present

    The Royal Docks closed in 1981, and many businesses relocated to Tilbury. The London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) was in discussion in the 1990s with the Zoological Society of London for a public aquarium on the site of the former CWS mill, but funding for it was difficult to find and the idea was eventually shelved. The Rank and CWS mills were demolished by the LDDC in the 1990s, along with the Millennium Mills' B and C silos. The D silo to the south is Grade II listed. Millennium Mills itself is locally listed by Newham Council.

    In 2001 a project was proposed for the redevelopment of the former docklands area with a planning request being submitted to the Local Authority in 2003. By 2007, a £1.5 billion building scheme had been approved to convert the 24 hectares (59 acres) site into a mixed use development with residential, commercial, leisure and public areas. It was estimated that the scheme would be one of the largest urban regeneration projects in Europe, creating 2,000 jobs. The scheme was set to deliver 4,900 waterfront homes, with the intention of converting the Mills themselves into 400 luxury loft-style flats called Silvertown Quays. The development was also to include a new aquarium for London called Biota!, designed by Terry Farrell + Partners. The building scheme was supported by a partnership between the landowner, the London Development Agency (LDA), joint developers Silvertown Quays Limited (SQL) and the Japanese developer Kajima Urban Development International with financial backing by the Bank of Scotland. The first phase of the redevelopment was to see the Millennium Mills building developed into flats, with the demolition of the eastern and western wings, including the remains of the Rank Premier mill, leaving the main block of Millennium Mills, plus the south-western extension as a standalone tower. Planning approval was granted in 2007. However, no date was decided for work to commence.

    —Christian Koch,
    In 2009, the LDA, having seen no progress on the project, served termination notices to the SQL, setting a deadline of the February 13, 2010 for the company to secure sufficient funds for the project. When the termination notice expired and the funds were unable to be raised the LDA ended their agreements with the SQL and the Silvertown Quays development was officially cancelled. Despite discussion with SQL’s main backer, the Bank of Scotland, and a new plan and revised timetable for the regeneration of the site, the London Development Agency concluded that it could not accept the new proposals. The Agency is now considering how best to achieve the future regeneration of the site. Architects Journal suggested that the area may now be incorporated into a larger masterplan for the docks as part of a wider Royal Docks masterplan housing up to 30,000 people.

    As of 2011, the building remains derelict and is a destination for Urban Explorers who enter the site at high risk. There are many reports and internal photos of the site. The Millennium Mills and Silo D site area was redeveloped as the London Pleasure Gardens and opened in 2012 to coincide with the London Olympics. Due to remain open for 3 years holding a number of music and arts events the site went into administration after only 5 weeks costing Newham council 4 million pounds.

    The present site

    The Millennium Mills site has been used on numerous occasions as a set for filming.

    The location has featured in various media. In 1985, the former CWS mill nearby was used in the Terry Gilliam's dystopian film Brazil. The interior featured as the ‘Department of Records’, a vast clerks pool where the character Sam Lowry worked, and the deserted corridors of the ‘Expediting Department’; the grim passageways and stairwells, as well as the exterior, served as ‘Shangri La Towers’, the Buttle family’s tower block.

    Derek Jarman's The Last of England

    In 1987, British film-maker Derek Jarman released his self-shot avant-garde film The Last of England, which featured Millennium Mills as a key location. There was only one week of formal shooting for the film which occurred in November at the Royal Docks, an area Jarman described as "miles of desolation with the odd post-modern office building." In one scene it shows characters dancing on the roof of the empty Millennium Mills building.

    British writer and psychogeographer, Iain Sinclair talks about the use of Millennium mills in Derek Jarman’s film, describing it as having “been christened by William Blake and delivered by Albert Speer"; the English Romantic poet and Adolf Hitler's chief architect. Sinclair goes on to call the mills "the perfect symbol for a cinematic endgame." In another piece of writing, Sinclair analyzes Jarman as a man who "saw the downriver reaches of Silvertown, with its abandoned flour mills, as a site for dervish dances and the rituals of a punk apocalypse."

    Jean-Michel Jarre

    Jean-Michel Jarre had the Millennium Mills painted white as a surface for projection of lighting effects for his 1988 show Destination Docklands. It formed one side of the backdrop, with the CWS mill in the centre and a screen supported by scaffolding on the other side. The concert coincided with the release of his album Revolutions which dealt with the theme of the industrial revolution and the transition to the information age, themes that resonated with the abandoned docklands; Jarre described the event as "a concert dealing with architecture".

    Other media

    Millennium Mills was a recurring filming location for the British TV series Ashes to Ashes (2008–2010). It appears as one of the first locations in the series in Episode 1. The show is set in the 1980s, and using the Mills sets the scene for the London landscape of the show before the construction of the Millennium Dome dominated the East London skyline. At the start of the 1980s the industrial East End had yet to start its transformation at the hands of the London Docklands Development Corporation, which was founded in 1981.

    The mills appear as the setting for the "Abandoned Mill" mission in Splinter Cell: Blacklist, although the game names them as "Lansdowne Mills".

    Millennium Mills was used as a location in the 2010 film Green Zone where the "desolate East London mill" provides the setting for Saddam Hussain's maze of underground tunnels and bunkers. Most recently the Millennium Mills featured in the urban thriller film Twenty8K.

    The mills also appear as the setting for a number of music videos, including "Ask" by The Smiths (1986) filmed by Derek Jarman on the north side of Royal Victoria Dock, "The Box" by Orbital (1996) featuring Tilda Swinton, "Fluorescent Adolescent" by the Arctic Monkeys (2007), "Take Back the City" by Snow Patrol (2008), "Build A Fire" by Lamb (2011), and "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall" by Coldplay (2011).

    In 2013 the Millenium Mills was used to shoot scenes for the movie adaptation of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.[citation needed] It was also used for Danny Boyle's 2013 film "Trance".

    Good old Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_Mills

    Vice report - http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/perusing-the-asbestos-doom-of-millennium-mills

    Future

    Taken from an article -

    Silver quays will be what Millennium Mills will be turned into. It is a multi-million project to re-develop the whole area including the Mills and silo D.

    Millenium Mills is part of phase 2 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silvertown_Quays

    What London has said - http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/housing-land/land-assets/silvertown-quays

    [​IMG]

    Further reading - http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rc...3TUB_7eSYAuhDFFPLwdaoIA&bvm=bv.77880786,d.ZGU

    The visit shows that nothing has been done to the actual Mills as of yet, Rank Hovis has changed only a little in the past year or so and demolition has only begun on the peace gardens and the small parts of the docks. Scaffolding has been erected in areas to show where is safe and where isn't I assume and some tape has been put up, other than that, a crane has been set up on the docks (As shown in the picture below from the Mills). Contractors park up by the docks and drive through the Millennium Mills site to park up. I say give it 2 months and they'll start stripping the site.

    [​IMG]

    These have been put up as well

    [​IMG]

    Things have also been stamped MM keep.

    [​IMG]

    The visit

    I was just back from checking out strand workhouse and thought I'd spend five minutes here, wasn't having the best of weeks and usually an explore clears your head so I thought I'd crack this whilst in the area as it's been on my list for a while.

    Five minutes... Not sure what planet I was on, 3 hours in the end. Thoroughly checked out the site and had a blast, shame I didn't have my mates with me.

    Access was humorous and rather annoying, ripped my nice newish t-shirt getting in and got rather annoyed. :gay

    Then I spent around 20 minutes creeping around trying to not get heard, then realised there isn't any security any more. :crazy

    After I was in, I checked a few rooms and then found my way to the top to open a can of monster and enjoy the view. Checking more rooms on my way down, then off I went. Felt good after that. :thumb

    Pictures

    Well, here are the pics!

    A few externals as all ways

    [​IMG]

    Note the dome to the right of frame, that's being brought down I believe pretty soon

    [​IMG]

    North side looking up

    [​IMG]

    Silo D from the top

    [​IMG]

    Nice old sign on the North side (Probably loading bay)

    [​IMG]

    I opened this door straight to a 4 storey drop

    [​IMG]

    Scaffolding barriers have been erected in certain areas

    [​IMG]

    This was taken on the West side of the South wing, it's just behind the WW2 steel extension

    [​IMG]

    Inside the 10th storey

    [​IMG]

    The dodgy Fire escape

    [​IMG]

    Door to the top

    [​IMG]

    Top floor emptiness

    [​IMG]

    More of the insides

    [​IMG]

    A nice sign

    [​IMG]

    Looking South from the top showing Silo D

    [​IMG]

    The roof with an airplane

    [​IMG]

    A window shot

    [​IMG]

    Not too bad, worth 3-4 hours. Please excuse the poor camera work, didn't fancy taking my DSLR out on this trip. Cheers for looking and hope you enjoyed it.

    (Just like to say - Sorry I couldn't make meeting you Rob and Boomstick)​
     
    #1 slayaaaa, Oct 21, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2014

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  2. ACID- REFLUX

    ACID- REFLUX 28DL Regular User
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    Well i like it even if you don"t mate :)

    Nicely done :thumb
     
  3. slayaaaa

    slayaaaa 28DL Regular User
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    Cheers mate :)
     
  4. The Wombat

    The Wombat Mr Wombat
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    Thats a good report, nowt wrong with that :thumb
     
  5. slayaaaa

    slayaaaa 28DL Regular User
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    Cheers mate :thumbs
     
  6. zombizza

    zombizza Pink
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    Ok. Not as much happening as I thought. That internal scaffolding etc was there several months ago when I visited. I'm a bit confused, I thought rank hovis wing was still there when I went as well. Perhaps it was bigger at one point.
     
  7. slayaaaa

    slayaaaa 28DL Regular User
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    It was pretty big mate, if you look it up on Google Maps the whole East wing is gone, I believe this is where the leap of faith was to be jumped, but obviously, there's nothing to jump from now!

    When did you visit?
     
  8. slayaaaa

    slayaaaa 28DL Regular User
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    Ah hang on a sec, rank hovis isn't all gone, I was confused. The brown part is all rank hovis i think. In that case, not much has gone at all, i thought it was a larger extension but apparently not! I'll edit the report to include that. Apologies.

    Re-development is still in the near future for millennium mills.
     
  9. zombizza

    zombizza Pink
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    I'll forgive ya!
     
  10. Oort

    Oort The spice expands consciousness.
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    I really need to go visit some friends in London before all the good shit is gone, lovely report and mega history!
     
  11. slayaaaa

    slayaaaa 28DL Regular User
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    Few good sites down here, you should :thumb
     
  12. f3lix

    f3lix 28DL Full Member
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    Freaking awesome mate! :Not Worthy
     
  13. Boomstick84

    Boomstick84 28DL Regular User
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    Quality report mate! :thumb

    Very comprehensive and loving the shots too, nice work :D

    No worries on not being able to meet us by the way, looks like you had the better evening as you wouldn't have had much joy if you'd come to meet us! :D
     
  14. slayaaaa

    slayaaaa 28DL Regular User
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    Shoulda come up there haha! Glad you had a good time anyways. :thumbs
     
  15. WildBoyz

    WildBoyz Is this the future?
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    Nice report. Looks like a massive place.

    With all of that history you've produced a book, not a report lol :thumb
     
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