Report - Dobroyd Mill - May 2017

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Exploring with Bob
Regular User
Jan 28, 2017
So, I wasn't sure I was going to do a report with having just had the one visit, because this place is big and I found myself running out of time. But, it appears I am too excitable to contain myself.



There is surprisingly little history knocking about for what is a very large mill complex, once owned by a latter day celebrity (William Haigh) and one of the most reputable spinners of worsted cloth. Worsted cloth, by the way, is a very fine smooth cloth woven from wool. The original building was constructed in 1829 and started out life as a water powered mill. Even if you hadn't read into the history of the place before you wen't, you'd know this quite quickly from mooching about. It may even be worth taking a pair of wellies if you decide to visit. You can make out the original dam behind the site and there seem to be culverted passages (not sure how long) that go beneath the mill. I did not have time to check those out. The mill was rebuilt in 1870 and now stands at three stories tall. Some outhouses were added later on and a square chimney (now demolished). There are also some more modern buildings and it seems to be mostly these that are in use now.

William Haige started working for Dobroyd Mill in 1919 as a director, having left the Royal Flying Corps. He was a bit of a legend, even by today's standards. He was nicknamed Buffalo Bill by his mates, because of his love for broad rimmed hats. He was regarded as philanthropist, energetic and innovative, but also very modest. He rubbed shoulders with Churchill and royalty, but never forgot his community, helping to bring them water and electricity in the 1920s. But my favorite story about this chap took place on a business trip when he was flying to Paris to attend a trade fair. The fuselage door was ripped off during the flight and despite the risk to his own safety, stepped in to save a stewardess from being sucked out of the plane. The French press were all over the story, but Buffalo Bill escaped the paparazzi. He didn't need to hashtag his adventures.

Bill was an avid collector of trongers (wool weights), which came to be the symbol of Dobroyd Mill. Once these were so worn that they were no longer good for weighing wool, they were meant to be returned to London to be melted down for new ones. As a result few exist today. But Bill kept hold of the ones he wanted. I reckon if Buffalo Bill had been around today he would have been partial to a spot of recreational trespassing if the mood took him.

How it all unfurled

I walked past the no fishing sign, because I wasn't intending on fishing. No rules broken so far. Inside on the ground floor is like a warren of rooms that make no sense. In the same way a patchwork quilt is made up of different materials, the rooms I first walked into were all unique.

Once in I unzipped my rucksack and had a look about. Something caught my interest so I went to investigate. Came back. Picked up the rucksack. And my camera and lenses fell out on the concrete. I was mortified. Luckily there was just a little superficial damage. Mostly to my favorite lens. But, it was back on with the explore.

Noddy lives in one of the little rooms full of all kinds of stuff. He seems to move about a bit. Now he guards the blue box.


Some deconstructed gas piping. There was a nest of pterodactyls near here that would not shut the fuck up. And I thought they were extinct.


When I was a very young kid I had an imaginary friend who was made from a football, a stand for a child's blackboard and a cagoule. Must be well over 35 years since I have seen him and completely out of the blue I bumped into him in the next room, the one with a vaulted ceiling. Turns out he is secca in this mill. Small world. Had an imaginary safety brew. Took a selfie with him and he let me carry on exploring.

Fisheye of the room with a vaulted ceiling.


To the left was a melting wall.


There are a couple of room off this, but back out and in a different direction if one of the coolest things still left to find.


A photo of some knobs.


Looking back... Loads of lovely peeling paint and stuff here.


Out of there and there is a back into the courtyard there is a passageway that leads to a lift. If you follow the lift to the top the lift is open and it's workings are visible. I hope they didn't use it to lift anything heavy, because it looks a bit ropey.


Upstairs are loads of large expansive rooms, the type you find in mills. These rooms really are a lovely place to be. Obviously they would not have been when they were fully operational, but on my own, chilling taking photos with no one around, they're incredibly serene. This hoover had the potential to fuck up that serenity. If it worked. Didn't check.

There is a room that is full of all kinds of stuff. By now I was really running out of time. I'd been in there at least three hours and had to be heading home. These floors have been used quite recently, well in the last decade.

Still had time for a quick selfie.


And some shots of the beautiful spaces.




I especially liked that room.

I haven't done this place justice with one visit. I will be back.

Thanks you for reading.


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