In the corner of the top floor of Bailey Mill, sat this, one of the last looms produced by the Dobcross loom company in nearby Diggle. The loom industry used to be huge, with the likes of British Northrop in Blackburn employing 3000 people at their massive site in Blackburn. But with the rapid decline of the textile industry in the late 50’s, the company shrunk rapidly to only a few hundred, and eventually shut, as did the Dobcross company. The Dobcross factory still exists, although is now empty after its last occupants, a pallet manufacturer, moved out a few years back. Looms are still used in mills, but modern ones are far larger and are inevitably made overseas.
Although I took digital and black and white film pictures in the mill, this is a digital image converted to black and white. There’s a lot to look at, but unless you know what it is, its all a bit abstract. The colour version does have some splashes of colour from the threads, but without their distraction, you’re left with just the shapes and textures of this mongy old, pigeon shit and feather encrusted piece of machinery, that seems to be in a state of suspended animation. I don’t know why this one was left, I can only presume that the contents of the mill were auctioned when it closed, and this wasn’t sold. I haven’t seen any pictures of it on the recent reports on 28Days Later, so I can only presume it’s been scrapped.
Since I visited the mill in 2007, it’s condition has really deteriorated, with recent reports stating that the top floor on which this photo was taken is now rotten and dangerous to walk on. That’s a huge shame, this must surely be a great candidate for conversion into apartments or something, but given the state of the housing market, I guess no one is prepared to even attempt a project of such magnitude at the moment.