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Report - - Broadford Works, Aberdeen - 27/10/07 | Industrial Sites |

Report - Broadford Works, Aberdeen - 27/10/07

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28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Broadford works is an factory compound near Aberdeen city centre. Owned by Richards of Aberdeen - a local textiles firm - Broadford was the base for their work, mainly spinning yarn, wool and carpet making.

The first building on site was erected in 1808, and still stands today as the oldest iron framed mill in Scotland, with newer buildings being built or added to existing structures as needed throughout Broadfords working life. Because of this the materials and construction styles are a bit of a jumbled mess, with a mix of granite (the local delicacy) and red brick buildings, lots of cobbles, and a rather odd layout at times. Some buildings standing alone, some with newer additions and extensions and odd connecting bridges between other bits and no coherent layout (to us explorers - in use the buildings probably related to each other a lot better than they do now standing empty, and were easy enough to navigate).

Nowadays Broadford works stands empty, Richards sold up in 2002, passing the works on to a developer as a going concern, who later decided to stop work in 2004 and redevelop the site as housing. This is still in limbo, with plans being put forwards to the council that were rejected (through not having enough affordable housing) with revisions and so on still ongoing which leaves Broadford in its current state - all work has stopped and all the machinery has been removed, but with a lot of evidence remaining of its past life.

Today I finally got to visit Broadford, giving in to the intrigue and interest after getting to see the towers through the intervening buildings on my bus journey to university every day. Todays visit was with the honourable Mr Fish (as far as I know not a member here, though I will be directing him to this thread) and Alair147 was also pencilled in for a visit, but was unable to come along due to car trouble - We will definatly be going back to which you already have the invitation :) - The six hours we were inside didn't give us nearly enough time to get around all the buildings on site, and that dosent count all the bits I want to go back a revisit.

I will say sorry in advance that I lost track of the buildings as we wandered around them, we started with a nice plan of action to have a quick look through this bit, then x, y and z buildings, only we got waylaid slightly with other interesting finds and new routes taking us to previously uncharted territory and a much more roundabout and less organised tour. So from that this will probably be more the sights and features as we explored, and a general look throughout the works rather than a building by building documentary. That will have to wait for another visit...

On with the photos...

The outside around the granite building and surroundings.




Inside some of the single story buildings on the edge of the site





Further around the perimeter, slightly larger buildings of a couple of stories, and some large pressure rooms (to do with spinning/cleaning/separating the yarns) and the roof space above.




Looking out one of the perimeter windows


The required chair shot...


Looking down between buildings again




Inside one of the red brick mills, the largest of the mills on site.


The workshop floors, I wish I could have seen this in action, full of machinery and people busy at work, now sitting empty with only odd piles of leftovers and rubbish leftover from work. Amusingly someone else seems to have been in and managed to create a nice big spiders web out of some of the thread sitting about. Much more amusing than the expected broken glass (a chunk of which I managed to step on directly after getting inside the compound and put stright through the sole of my shoe - a nice wee delay for us while we got some plasters and patched up my foot) and graffiti.






Up at the very top of the building, there is a solitary room, full of boxes and boxes full of samples of all the different colours and types of wools and yarns.






Just above the room of boxes, you can get onto the roof next to the room with the lift machinery in it, the highest point in Broadford next to the two towers (which have been climbed, just not by us) and a great view out over Aberdeen


It was at this point we found another explorer, who appeared out of the door onto the roof, saw me in hi-viz and got the fright of his life, which was about the same reaction as my fellow explorer when someone burst out unexpectedly of what we had though a completely empty building. At this point I was facing away and didn't hear anything, until I turned round and counted twice as many people being there as there were before... Thankfully someone else out to get some pictures, so after the usual greetings and chat we left him to continue the explore.

Continued in post two...


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Re: Broadford Works, Aberdeen - 27/10/07 - Report

Back down near ground level we continued exploring around the smaller outer buildings, in a fairly nondescript open building we found a tiny room hidden away in one corner, full of piles of official books, just hidden away growing mouldy in a damp corner - a bit of a surprising place to find them as it was nowhere near any sort of office or any 'official' place you would expect to find such old books.



Further round in another building there was the official offices, still with desks and odd bits of equipment like phones and battered typewriters sitting around, and a fair amoutn of paperwork strewn about, there are cupboards just fill of folders and files. Most of this was fairly clean, apart from one room which has been attacked fairly badly by damp and is mostly growing now...



Back into the larger mill buildings in the centre, the worst spot of vandalism was one burnt out room, thankfully it was obviously caught before the fire could spread too far.



A few rooms further round, and a store room just full of bobbins of samples


Upstairs and a room made popular on previous visits, full of drawers of wool, and then further through a bit smaller drawers full of smaller samples.



Yet another large box of bobbins of threads and wools


Up in the top of the building, there are a few rooms left with what must be left of what was used in the manuacturing, odd drums and dollys and so on


The cart someone shoved out onto the fire escape, caught before it fell the multiple stories to ground level. We did really want to get out and up to the wee tower rooms on either end of the buildings, but looking at the state of the metals it was decided to be too risky to get out. So we only got up the centre section of the building where there was easy internal access.



Thanks for reading, and hope it has been of some interest. I do have a few photos on 35mm film which hasn't developed yet, so they will be added later if any of them turn out well, and hopefully my exploring partner Mr Fish will appear and add something later on.

This was only the first visit, you can expect a future report covering the rest of the site and hopefully some revisions of what we have done here.



28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Re: Broadford Works, Aberdeen - 27/10/07 - Report

Good stuff - glad you found your way in after we talked about it a while back. It really deserves a whole day to do it justice - and the rubbish strewn around in front of the mill offices in that photo actually consists of recent accounts, correspondence and so forth. I could have spent an afternoon looking through that alone...

In case anyone else is thinking about it, Broadford is better visited at weekends - there's a reason for that. ;)

Cheers for the help with access, the way you got in before went perfectly for us.

The amount of records left behind was quite staggering. We didn't actually have a closer look at that stuff, as we headed round in the other direction and by the time we had gotten round most of hte rest we were knackered, and already planning the return visit. The one that did surprise me were the really old ledgers, hidden away in a corner of one of the newer blocks - we found bits dated 1909, and there were almost certainly older books there which we didn't look inside. Thats a fair history...

Cybergibbons - glad to hear it wasn't just us chickening out. Looking at the state of those beams they are definatly not safe, almost completely rotten through in parts and with some of the rivets pulling right up - not the best for structural integrity.

Cheers for all the comments.


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Re: Broadford Works, Aberdeen - 27/10/07 - Report

Might just be me but the two hose towers appear to be missing?

Indeed, only a couple of photos of them really, which I had skipped over writing the report as there were more than enough photos already ;)

We got up to the base of the concrete tower (via wandering over a bit of roof and up a handily placed ladder - though I think there is easier access from the main building) but thought we would give climbing it a miss (just it being daytime obviously, nothing to do with having to climb small but very tall ladders ;))
We did take a few photos from there, mostly hidden in the main report as photos of other things.