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Report - - Dairy Crest Creamery, Torrington - 26/12/2008 | Industrial Sites |

Report - Dairy Crest Creamery, Torrington - 26/12/2008

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"Welcome to the Art Factory". A warm welcome in the form of a graffiti tag scrawled across an otherwise drab wall. But this is not the "bad" form of graffiti urban explorers have grown to hate; far from it. This is graffiti done by professionals, and trust me, it makes Torrington Creamery worth it.

A dairy has been at the site of the creamery since 1874, when Robert Sandford founded a milking parlour. Over the years it grew and grew until the original buildings were not adequate for the scale of the operation. They were subsequently demolished, and in their place was built an enormous and lavish art deco factory. These are the buildings that survive today, but further additions such as a vast corrugated drying tower and some more recent warehousing furthered the sites growth.

Although the off-white and navy blue drying tower can be seen from miles around, and it dominates the valley of the Torridge river, it is suprisingly not out of place, and many locals have expressed their sadness to see it go. However, the tower was severely damaged internally by a fire in 1993, and this inhibited operation. When the goverment de-centralised milk collection, this finally killed the creamery off and it closed its doors; a severe blow to the local economy.

Today, the stronger, art deco windows are in excellent condition, but the weaker glass of the more modern parts have felt the ravishes of time, and not one survives intact. Internally, the floors and walls are in excellent condition, although covered in fabulous graffiti. (I never thought I would say that :crazy) The drying tower has recently been internally stripped, and demolition will soon follow; but the art deco parts of of architectural interest and it would be a shame to see these go.

Anyway, as you can see on this more modern block, vandals have been at work. When the only view is through a bramble bush, the building looks very forboding...


The art deco block also looks forboding when shaded by the drying tower and covered in a choking layer of mould...


I can only assume "TVD" stood for "Torridge Valley Dairy"...



Around the southern side of the site, the scene is completely different. The boxing day sun illuminates the lavish art deco facade, and there is not a broken window in site.



The loading bay was a vast space, lit only by the sun through the doorway. The ramp, once alive with large tankers, now sits under a thick layer of dust.


This stunningly detailed graffiti was one of the best bits there, and gave the room a splash of colour...


Upstairs, I left the darkness of the loading bay and stepped into the fabulous sunlight of the factory floors.



I moved along the length of the buildings and stumbled across the packaging plant. The only machinery left behind was a large hopper which fed a manouverable nozzle that ran on rails. Once pristine, it now slowly rusts.


The rest of the packaging plant was covered in amazing graffiti...


The brilliant light at the end of this dark corridor gave it a warm, almost cosy feel...


The source of the light was the cream processing floor, in places rooms were two storeys high and the enormous iron windows let sunlight spill across the floor.



The ape in the left hand corner of this photo was arguably the best bit of graffiti. Named "Evolution" by the artist, it looked almost lifelike.


My favourite feature in the building was a fabulous curved concrete staircase, which rose up inside a round glass tower. The glass bricks faced the sun and had escaped vandalism, and this gave the staircase a grand appearence. Buildings just aren't built to such quality these days.





The staircase led to the Separator Floor. This vast space was spread over 3 floors.

The bottom floor used to house enormous vats. These rose up to the first floor, where the only evidence of the vats is curved indentations into a balcony. What was once an area of such cleanliness is now being reclaimed by nature, and an inch thick layer of mould.


The first floor had enormous chutes cut into the concrete floor, which led to the bottom. Creme fraiche pots are a plenty.


The second floor had some enormous pipes and valves on it, and a ladder that led to a balcony. A cogged-winch was also left behind, which would have operated a lifting mechanism.



The building is split in two parts, with a service road down the middle. A bridge was built to connect the two sides, and even this had extravagant features, such as fabulous round porticoes.



Attention to detail was that little bit more important back then, and even the most utilitarian rooms were lavish; such as solid wood cubicles in the "Gentlemens Cloakroom".


This is the most colourful graffiti in there, and I loved it...


The canteen had the best location, overlooking the river Torridge and up the banks of the valley. The crimson-red, arched ceiling is just something you don't see anymore.