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Report - - Brighton Road Industrial Estate, Stockport, September 2015 | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Brighton Road Industrial Estate, Stockport, September 2015



Alley

Conspicuous Loiterer
Regular User
#1
The soot-stained old factory on Brighton Road is a noticeable local landmark. This large collection of buildings, with its short, octagonal chimney and distinctive saw-toothed rooftops, visible from the M60 in Stockport, had been in the back of my mind for some time. On map websites, it looked like an active site. Recently, I decided to pop in and ask for permission to take photos of the chimney. Then, driving past, I noticed that demolition had started. Oh no! Would I be too late?

I went down the next evening to find that nothing had changed, there was no demolition equipment on the sealed off site, and it looked completely abandoned. Result. That weekend, early on a clear, sunny morning, FreshFingers and I slipped in unnoticed and beheld the expanse of buildings with excited anticipation.

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Built in the late 1800s this was originally Silver Spoon (Pan) Fruit Processing Works, then in the 1920s was Faulders’ Cocoa and Chocolate Works. By the 1930s it was Squirrel Chocolate Works and in 1960s became a distribution depot for Cadbury’s. A friend remembers playing among the pallets of the 'chocolate factory' in the 1950s. Later it was occupied by small businesses. The works comprises a large rectangular block with sawtooth roof, and central entrance house with tall chimney. The adjacent rail line, built in 1880, branched into the site.

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We spent four hours exploring the different buildings. It has been used by various businesses, all leaving behind remnants of their work. First, the ground floor – most recently used by a window retailer. It has brick arch ceilings, supported by iron beams and pillars. Part of the largest room was undergoing asbestos decontamination. We didn't go into the sealed off bit.

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Some lovely pillars

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The top floor used to be The Greenhouse Recording Studio. Lots of rooms with carpeted walls.

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Out back we found what looked to be a shipping container. Why was it painted in camo colours? Not sure what it was for, but I want to live in it.

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Now, the best bit. Let's go downstairs.

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Into the chimney

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Up to the entrance house

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Back in 2013 plans were submitted for redevelopment of this site, into a retail park. These met with local objection: residents don't want the increased traffic, and say the area doesn't need yet another supermarket. They claimed that development “contravenes the Stockport local plan on use class for the development site”.

A Heritage Statement was prepared back in 2013. This is a study which assesses the 'value' of a site of potential historic interest, working within the parameters laid out by the local council and the new National Planning Policy Framework. Paragraph 128 of the NPPF states “local planning authorities should require an applicant to describe the significance of any heritage assets affected, including any contribution made by their setting.”

The study then goes on to not describe the contribution made by the site's setting, just to advocate for its demolition. I think this is the important bit: “The former industrial buildings on the application site are not designated heritage assets [maybe the chimney should be designated?] and have not been formally identified by the local authority as non-designated heritage assets. The extant chimney has been identified by the local authority during pre- application requirements as being of potential merit and this report has therefore been prepared to provide a more detailed understanding of the former works and any significance it may possess.”

The report goes on to conclude that the chimney is not of merit and can therefore be demolished. I disagree. Let's look at what they say:

“information provided by BSCP Consulting Engineers indicates that due to general deterioration of the buildings on the site, the chimney brickwork is also likely to have suffered from frost and weather action.”

In other words, they didn't check the chimney. I know they didn't because it is not safely accessible to surveyors, and, being sheltered by the buildings, is actually in really good condition. As you can see from the photos, the base brickwork is dry and undamaged. It's a perfectly sturdy little chimney and they're trying to bullshit the council into letting them knock it down.

Chimney to the left, entrance house ahead, external wall to the right.

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“The HER record makes reference to an ‘octagonal chimney with a decorative cap’. This is no longer the case and the chimney is now plain with no architectural adornment or embellishment. Indeed, the H. Faulder and Co Ltd letterhead from the early days of the company contains an illustration of the chimney and it appears to have always been a simple functional structure with no decorative cap.”

So, it's never been a decorative chimney. That's not the point – Stockport was a mill town. At its peak there were 129 chimneys in this small valley. There are five left, including this one, in the town centre. I believe all chimneys should be saved as a reminder of the town's past. They also add interest and character.

The survey names some remaining (and considered important) chimneys: Decorative: Pear Mill; Meadow Mill; Houldsworth Mill. Plain round: Wellington Mill. Only the latter is actually visible from Stockport town centre. Not mentioned is Welkin (Ark) Mill which has a nice round chimney, a landmark by the M60 at Bredbury. Brighton Road chimney sits high above the motorway, a more appropriate and attractive gatepost to Stockport from the West than the ugly pyramid.

“underlying the scheme proposals is an aspiration to enhance the existing areas and create a bespoke landmark development, including enhanced landscaping areas and new external features... with larger buildings located to the west, consistent with the historic arrangement of built development...the loss of buildings of low significance must be balanced with the overall benefits that will accrue from redevelopment of the site....”

So, we can keep the chimney then?
If you're concerned about Stockport heritage, feel free to emither our local heritage councillor paulhartley@stockport.gov.uk

Obviously development of some form will inevitably go ahead but it would be nice if the council ensured that it retained the character of the site. If it must be a retail park, or even apartments, how about cleaning up the chimney as a centrepiece and calling it Silver Pan Park, or even The Chocolate Factory?
 
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slayaaaa

28DL Regular User
Regular User
#4
Love it, especially like the arguement you've put forward r.e. the Chimney, I completley agree and I hope it's retained and saved. Maybe start up an EPetition or something simular?

Lovely pictures :)
 

host

28DL Regular User
Regular User
#9
Excellent report, your reports are always so well put together and have so much history i wish we could see more from you..i've driven past this many times and never really bothered with it, what a slacker.
 

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