Report - - Rylands Mill Chimney, Wigan, Oct 2016 | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Rylands Mill Chimney, Wigan, Oct 2016


more tall than ginger tho.....
Regular User
Visited with Miss P.

It was my first single ladder chimney climb and Miss P's first chimney and what a chimney it was!

Built in 1867 the mill was designed by George Woodhouse for John Ryland. The mill has been known by many different names over the years, which initially made finding it quite tricky as I'm not from Wigan! In the past it has also been known as Gidlow Mill and Pagefield Mill but Rylands seems to have stuck. It was bought by Wigan Technical College in 1985 and that coupled with knowing it was very easily accessible from the nearby Mesnes Park, was how I found it.

It seams this John Ryland was quite a clever and subsequently rich man. He entered into a partnership with his two older brothers before he was thirteen. In 1819 their father joined them and their business Rylands and Sons was established. It was a very successful business and over the years he built Ainsworth Mills in Bolton and a warehouse for the firm in Manchester (now Debenhams) and another in London. It became a limited company in 1873 and the extra capital allowed him to buy more mills in the area. By this time his firm had a capital of £2 million making him Manchesters first multi millionaire. If I've calculated it correctly that's£40,000,000 in today's money. He employed 15,000 people in his 17 mills and factories, which produced 35t of cloth a day!

None of this was in my mind when I stood at the bottom of the chimney looking up. I'd been earlier in the week and thought I could do it solo. I attached two daisy chains to my harness, fashioned the broken bottom ladder which was lying on the floor into a step ladder, pulled myself up and clipped into two different rungs. Via ferrata style I climbed up scaring the pigeons, which flapped and sent dust and bits of brick down onto me. I kinda hoped the ladders would be rusty or loose so I'd have an excuse for not doing it but although they were a bit flimsy they were structurally sound. Anyways, even though I was attached to the ladders at all times I was shaking like a shitting dog with the pigeons flapping round me and not making much progress. Besides, my elvis leg was rattling the ladders, which made it worse! Its the first time I've backed away from an explore due to my nerves (what a wimp eh!)

The place still terrifies me!

So, I speaks to Miss P, asking if any of her rock climbing mates could climb a 50m ladder and bring me up on a rope.

Do you know anyone daft enough I ask?

Yeah, she says, me!

Righto, you can lead it, then!

So a few nights later and after returning back to hers to pick up a forgotten harness (and forgetting a head torch again) we found ourselves at the bottom of the chimney.

After a bit of a struggle trying to get onto the ladder (she's not as tall as I) she'd got a few draws in and was away! Slowly but surely she made her way up clipping the rungs and framework every now and then, scaring the bloody pigeons as she went and sending all the crap down on to me - i tried to hide under the ladders!
Fair play to her! She'd not read the reports on the place, she'd no idea what was safe or when the last person climbed these ladders (to the top). Finally she got to the top and it was my turn. It was a bit tricky holding a torch in my mouth (she'd got my head torch!), while balancing on the broken ladders, reaching up to the solid ladders above, shouting at her to take in the slack! Then as I grabbed the solid ladders the other ones fell away from underneath and I was hanging one handed 10ft up and as I tried to pull myself up my jacket caught on the middle safety runner sharp thing! I had to take the torch out of my mouth, put it into my pocket (one handed!) and yell to keep the rope tight while I sorted myself out in the dark and pulled myself up. At least i was on, had a rope above and just some 'easy' ladders to climb. Everything was fine, unclipping the draws as I went until not one but both my torches started playing up.

The top was nice. Flimsy but probably ok. The views were nice too. We had good weather and could see for miles. I didn't expect this to be the tallest thing around, I thought there'd be loads of other mills, or blocks of flats on the skyline but there wasn't. Happy days!

So, we got our photos done and after opting out of abseiling off the side I made my retreat. "You can down lead it can't yer? Be rate!" And she did. No dramas, just got on with it! Fair play - you get the onsight!

What a night, we were buzzing back at the bottom. We thought it was about 12 o'clock it was nearly 3 - oops, gotta be up in Stockport at 7.30 in the morning!

Gotta few more pics and fucked about light painting and then drove back







Thanks for looking, sorry if i waffle on a bit! If anyone knows why there's three holes/ brackets for three flues, I'd love to know. Why not just one big one? Or what three gases need to be kept apart?


28DL Full Member
Good write-up any more photos from up the top over Wigan.

Urban Artists

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Did this recently up the tower, no ropes unfortunately would have saved time haha, boosting one up on the other ones shoulders & hey presto up to the top. Have to say the place is pretty run down with just kids running around and other random people going in and out for scrap metal and other odd bits. great photos :)

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