Report - - W.H.Shaw Ltd, Dobcross Works, Diggle, Lancs, July 2019 | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - W.H.Shaw Ltd, Dobcross Works, Diggle, Lancs, July 2019


28DL Regular User
Regular User
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 in 1890 for Huchinson 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:

WH Shaw Ariel by HughieDW, on Flickr

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. Despite the approval, as at July 2019, the site remains abandoned.

2. The Explore
Been wanting to come here for a while so good to finally explore this place. Explored with non-forum-member Gazza. It’s a big site so getting in isn’t a massive issue. Secca seem to have given up the ghost but there is a concerted effort to keep the clocktower building sealed up. Had a good hour looking round the industrial goodness this place has to offer. It’s a mishmash of different buildings and some are more interesting than others. One thing that did strike us in the older bit of the factory was the amount of pigeon carnage. Not sure what has led to this. Weirdest moment of the explore was when I heard someone around the corner from me. Assumed it was Gazza. Then this random bloke with a screwdriver walked past me and muttered something to me in a foreign language, then just disappeared as quickly as he had appeared. Saw nothing else of him.

So, the clock tower eluded us this time. It’s a shame as it is the most beautiful building externally and internally.

3. The Pictures

Did I mention the bonus tunnel under the canal?

img1758 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Diggle 04 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The first thing you see from afar:

img1832 by HughieDW, on Flickr

On-site we go:

img1771 by HughieDW, on Flickr

This building didn’t have a lot to offer:

img1773 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1774 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Or this one:

Diggle 05 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The famous bridge:

img1776 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1779 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Diggle 07 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And the very big chimney:

img1778 by HughieDW, on Flickr

A tempting yoink opportunity. Resisted.

img1782 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The best bit of the site:

img1783 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1785 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1786 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Just externals sadly:

img1788 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1803 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Into the main bit of the factory:

img1789 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Diggle 10 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Good advice:

img1793 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Lonely is the first-aid cabinet:

img1798 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And that tunnel from the inside:

Diggle 11 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Factory floor:

img1802 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1804 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1806 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And up to the older bit of the factory:

img1808 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Not the second wave of punk Oi band:

img1809 by HughieDW, on Flickr
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28DL Regular User
Regular User

Gotta be organised:

img1812 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1813 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1814 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1816 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1819 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1820 by HughieDW, on Flickr


img1821 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1829 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1822 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1823 by HughieDW, on Flickr


img1824 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1825bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

by HughieDW, on Flickr

Diggle 14 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The water-tower:

Diggle 15 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Diggle 06
by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1830 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The Lone Ranger

Safety is paramount!
Staff member
Good effort updating the history, about time the school moved to this location. The clock tower will remain.

Nicely covered, shame you missed out on the clock tower, but still a nice mooch :thumb


grumpy sod
Regular User
Good to see this again, I need another go at it. I'm guessing all those annoying alarms on the outside have been disabled now then!

Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
Really great shots there. Impressive buildings there. Looks huge. Love the clock tower. :thumb The canal, mill & clock, what a great wander. Id be there for hours I reckon :cool: