Report - - Shaw's, Diggle, Lancs, December 2019 | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Shaw's, Diggle, Lancs, December 2019


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1. The History
W.H.Shaw Ltd is located at Dobcross Works. The centrepiece is the Grade II-listed Office Building of the former Dobcross loom works, known locally as “The Cathedral”. Built in1890 for Hutchinson and Hollingworth in a Gothic style, it is revered for its 4-stage clock tower.

The loom works themselves date back to 1860. The main chimney was built in 1863 and was subsequently enclosed. A number of the original buildings burned down in 1875, then a larger works was erected on the same site and extended between 1890 and 1900 to provide the main area of the factory. The company was a world leader in the manufacture of textile machinery and the "Dobcross Loom" was exported worldwide in the late 19th century.

Most of the original buildings were demolished from 1912 onwards, with only occasional elements still remaining from the original works due to losses suffered in a large fire circa 1925. From 1920 and over the next ten years saw some serious reconstruction work that included the building of the water tower. A new large building was built to the north in two stages in 1910 and then in 1920 on the site of the former Wrigley Mill.

Aerial shot of the mill from 1926:

The buildings were used for munitions in World War I and for making parts for Russian submarines in World War 2. More recently the site was subsequently used as a pallet works (WH Shaw) between 1969-2006 (reputedly one of the largest pallets works in Europe) and more recently used for an injection moulding business.

In 2015 WRT Developments Ltd submitted four different planning permission requests to demolish the existing buildings on the WH Shaw site apart from the listed office building and clock tower and link bridge. The plans then detailed the construction of the new Saddleworth School. The applications were approved in April 2016, with work start later in 2016 and conclude in 2018. However, at a judicial review by the High Court quashed all four permissions on one ground; committee members did not address the “additional financial, educational and construction burdens of keeping the Uppermill site to avoid the substantial harm of the heritage asset”. The plans were resubmitted in January 2018 and the £19m 1,500 pupil school came a step closer to happening when the Environment Agency lifted their objection to the school on the basis of an unacceptable flooding risk. A new planning application, again with four proposals, was considered in February 2019 with all four applications were approved unanimously by the committee ten years after the plans were first mooted. In December 2019, initial work started on the site that will see all the buildings on the site demolished, apart from the Grade II listed admin block and clock tower. This means the link bridge between the factory and admin block will not be retained. And of course, the subsequent construction of the 1,500-pupil school.

2. The Explore
Came here earlier in the year and with secca appearing to have given up the ghost, we had the run of the place. Fast-forward five months and having been exploring with @bikinglyn earlier in the day nearby and he suggested coming here as he’d not been before. We also had the pleasure of meeting up with @theloneranger. Great to finally meet you. Not much has changed at the moment, but it is set to. Contractors have started to move onto the site ahead of the work that will start shortly to build the aforementioned school. In the meantime, there’s still plenty of industrial goodness to get stuck into at Shaw’s.

3. The Pictures

View from the road:

Last time didn’t bother with the building on the left of the site as it was a bit of a faff getting in. Now it’s wide open:

The tunnel over to the illusive admin block and clock tower:

Fuel point:

And the clock tower itself:

The main downstairs part of the largest building is now taking in a lot of water:

And this is why:

This part is still relatively dry:

My fave bit is the up-stairs bit of the oldest part of the factory:

img4827 by HughieDW, on Flickr

One thing I didn’t do last time was go up onto the roof:

This chimney will be a sad loss when it gets demo’ed:

As will the iconic water tower:

Looking back into the factory: