Report - - Edison Swan Cable Works, Lower Lydbrook - 09/05/2009 | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Edison Swan Cable Works, Lower Lydbrook - 09/05/2009


( . Y . )
Regular User
Today was one of those days where everything turned out très magnifique. It was a good 'n' proper explore of the vast building that is the Edison Swan Cable Works, near Lower Lydbrook in the Forest of Dean. Visited with Paskey and Morgan.

The factory started life when Harold J Smith purchased some land at Stowfield, near Lower Lydbrook, and built the Lydbrook Cable Works. At first the site only employed 40 workers, however the First World War provided many contracts and the site rapidly expanded, employing a workforce of 650. When the Official Receiver was introduced, contracts declined and the site was sold in 1925 to Edison Swan Cables.

Edison Swan had access to greater resources and the site quickly expanded further, making it the sprawling mass of different-aged buildings visible today. The Second World War helped the site to fuel this growth - the site owned one of only four machines making lead alloy tube required for "Petroleum Lines Under the Ocean" (PLUTO) which allowed fuel to be delivered to the Allied invasion force in Europe. At it's peak it employed 1,100 people.

In 1966 the factory was bought by Reed Paper, and it took on the new name of "Reed Corrugated Cables". It was then purchased by a Swedish packaging firm called SCA, and the site was used as one of several SCA packaging plants around the UK. Production ceased in 1994, and the site has slowly deteriorated since.

It is currently awaiting complete demolition - an outrage in my opinion judging by the quality of some of the buildings.


The office block, built in 1916 I believe, is located to the west of the site, and is the most lavish I have ever seen. This is the reception foyer; the first thing that greets you as you walk in.


The staircase is beautiful. Everything down to the hand carved wooden banisters is lavish and detailed.



A carved oak enquiries window was another example of the decadance in this place - it would definitely create a good impression for customers.


At the top of the staircase is another large foyer, with rooms leading off it. The paper strewn across the floor is mainly clocking-in slips, or delivery cards. The dates went as far back as the 1940's.


Through a wide double doorway with an elegant, hand painted stained glass window above it, was the Daddy.


A fantastic, wide, tall, bright and airy ballroom with beautiful wood panelling and large arched windows greeted us. An elegant arched ceiling, with original light fittings and ceiling roses gave the room an extra air of "lets impress the client". There was clearly no expense spared here.



Moving off the top floor foyer, there were the actual offices. However, they had original doors, very high ceilings and were still impressive. If you worked here, this was where you wanted to be; this was where the big cheeses worked.


This curved room looked like it had been adapted to contain computers. Despite this modernisation, it still had its original parquet flooring.


We returned to the staircase and went through the double doors half way up. They led into a more modern conservatory, and through here was what looked like the staff social club, complete with a bar.


Clocking-in - nice to see one of these still in place.


A thin corridor led onto one of the old factory floors, topped off by large skylights.


A narrow and cramped staircase led downstairs...


... to another, nearly identical factory floor, only this time without the skylights. Some of the original floor tiling had been uncovered as the newer floor crumbled away.



Moving through the buildings, we arrived at the main stores, next to the (sadly stripped) boilerhouse.


Another doorway opened out onto another (this time higher), factory floor.


Howeverm this was nothing compared to the next factory floor, a more modern addition added to the east of the site. It is astronomically vast, interrupted only by the colourful supporting columns.





A corrugated tower was then added to this building. A staircase led to a balcony, where a huge tree-trunk like structure of steel pipes joined together.


Up another flight of stairs, and some large hoppers cut up the room, their positions corresponding to where the pipes rose up from the floor below.



A contol rig at the base allowed an operator to control whatever the hoppers were used for.



We then decided to leave the site, however there was more to explore outside. The site had its own railway sidings, and as it is directly next to the river Wye, a derelict viaduct leads to it.


The track bed if the old railway leads through a short stretch of woodland and then into a 700 metre long tunnel, in remarkable condition. It is flooded at this portal though, so it was extremely cold when we went barefoot...


'Twas a brilliant afternoon explore, thanks lads!


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