The diversity of places that I’ve explored has ranged from completely intact places like Pyestock and Fletchers Paper Mill, to stripped out hulks such as Old Lane Mill. But this would suggest that some kind of spectrum of dereliction exists with fully intact at one end and empty shells at the other, when in actual fact there are places like Ivy Bank Mill that are apocalyptically intact and even have machinery still in them. This was a strange one as it was one of the very few places that I’ve visited twice. Howarth Historical Society tell me that it was hit by fire at some point in the past and whoever owns it has just left it to rot (no-one seems to know who owns it, I was even contacted by the council owned local tourist office trying to find out who I’d approached to look round). So what was the attraction of visiting a dangerously burnt out hulk more than once? It certainly wasn’t the danger.
Pillars at a jaunty angle
The mill lies in the outskirts of the picturesque tourist attraction that is Haworth in Yorkshire. It’s a place where time appears to have stood still (in a good way) what with the excellent Keighley & Worth Valley Railway being based there, as well as all kinds of Bronte related places, old stone mills, terraces, etc. It’s the kind of place where you won’t find a Subway. Anyway, somehow this place had been left to crumble, and constituted a real eyesore in this picturesque little town. Which is what attracted me to it. A vague report appeared briefly on 28 Days later, but quickly got deleted for being shit. However, in the brief time it was online, I managed to glean enough information out of the report to ascertain that it was in Haworth, and after consulting Google Earth, I figured out the rest.
As my first visit was planned as a recce, I ended up leaving my tripod in the car, a mistake as the conditions meant that the only way of getting decent exposures was to bracket and do some HDR treatment afterwards. However, the car was parked up the top of a mountainous hill half a mile away and I couldn’t be bothered with ascending that twice in one day. So I resolved to re-visit
with tripod, as the place had a strangely serene atmosphere and was strangely photogenic.
The lack of doors made for easy enough access, although once inside, it was apparent that the fire had been pretty devastating. The main building still had some remnants of the first floor, but even I wasn’t idiotic enough to go up and take a look on account of the fact that a) there was no roof so the wooden floor would be rotten, b) the place had been on fire, so the wooden floor would be weakened, and c) the iron pillars supporting said floor were at a somewhat jaunty angle. Realising that the place was a complete deathtrap, I pressed on. Clambering over the piles of wood that were once the roof and upper floors, I made my way to the alfresco weaving shed. Not a lot in here other than grass, glass and graffiti.
Alfresco weaving shed – it didn’t catch on
Adjacent to this was another 3 storey mill block which I wandered into and didn’t get much further. Most of the floor had collapsed into the basement, and what remained was as soft and spongy as a freshly laid carpet. Oddly, this building still had the burnt out hulks of several machines still in place, but more spectacularly, was that carding engine that had previously been located on the top floor, but was now wedged precariously between the remaining floor timber. Looking like an industrial Sword of Damocles, this was a three way battle between gravity, the strength of the rusty metal in the machine, and the rotten wooden rafters, and there appeared to be a stalemate.
Gravity vs. carding engine.
Photographing all this was difficult from an exposure point of view to the amount of light coming from outside, which is where HDR came in. Taking three exposures (for shadow, midtone and highlights, buggering round in Photomatix and finally Photoshop enabled me to wrangle a decent image out of a bit of a dog’s dinner. Actually, not all the images you see here are HDR, some are single raw images processed using multiple layers, and some were taken on black and white film, where the latitude proved very useful.
Open plan living in converted mills is all the rage y’know.
Drainpipes. Love the textures.