Heritage guardians bemoan mill blaze as more of Bradford's history is lost forever

Heritage guardians bemoan mill blaze as more of Bradford's history is lost forever

Bradford historian Nigel Grizzard

Firefighters returned to Mill Street yesterday after a hotspot discovered

Firefighters returned to Mill Street yesterday after a hotspot discovered

Firefighters tackle a blaze at a derelict mill in Bingley town centre

A mill fire at a derelict glass factory in Bowling, off Spring Mill Street, in 2009

A mill fire in Listerhills Road in 2012

Firefighters attend a fire at an old disused mill on Factory Street, Dudley Hill, in 2012

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , T&A Reporter

SIX days after fire tore through another of Bradford's iconic mills, it seems the four-storey building in Mill Street has had a temporary reprieve before it is eventually and inevitably razed to the ground.

For the time being at least, Ivy Mills is still standing but only just - as talks are ongoing between its unnamed Manchester owner, the loss adjusters and insurance company before the demolition can finally go ahead.

A structural report is also awaited so that the team behind the wrecking-task, Windmill UK Demolition, can plan the safest and best way to tackle the mammoth job. Asked about the timescale, a spokesman said: "How long's a piece of string? Until all the talks are over and we have the engineer's structural report we can't do a thing but we're here until the death."

The cause of what started the blaze just before 8am on Saturday is still under investigation and no update is likely much before the end of this week, according to West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service, who had 12 crews there at its peak and a crew returned to the scene yesterday to damp down a hotspot that had re-emerged.

The entire building was affected by the fire, with the main damage being caused in the first and second floor, which were both disused.

West Bowling-born-and bred Jeff Halmshaw, who writes journals chronicling the area's past, said: "Sadly it's another piece of Bradford heritage that's gone up in smoke."

Over the years, a number of landmark mills across the cityscape and out in the Bradford district have been destroyed because of fire. Some of those fires have been accidental, others blamed on rubbish being set alight while some have been caused by suspected arson.

Eastbrook Hall and the Playhouse in Little Germany have been among the city's most noteworthy buildings to have been hit by fire, although both have since been restored.

But many distinctive former industrial buildings have also been destroyed by flames. In April 2007, an intense blaze ripped through an almost entire block of buildings from Fulton Street, Tetley Street and into Sunbridge Road, taking out a chunk of the city centre's architecture.

In June 2009, fire swept through a derelict glass factory in Bowling's Springmill Street and, the following year, an inferno erupted at Ebor Mills in Haworth.

In January 2011, fire crews from across West Yorkshire were needed to fight roaring flames that destroyed a large part of Grade II- listed Dalton Mills in Keighley.

And a derelict mill in Bingley town centre also made the headlines when it went up in smoke in July that same year.

Three months later that year, 80 firefighters were called to a blaze at Prospect Mill, off Thornton Road.

In 2012, fire again put paid to a mill in Listerhills Road, one in Dudley Hill and Thompson's Mill in Tetley Street.

And last year thick plumes of dark smoke were seen in the city centre sky as a fierce blaze tore through the four-storey Providence Mills building in Tetley Street, just off Thornton Road - crews had to use cranes to try and put it out, in all 14 fire engines were at the scene.

But not all is gloom, in November last year one of Bradford's last iconic mill chimney stacks underwent a major renovation.

The stack at Albion Mills, in Greengates, Bradford,was repointed and repainted in a three-week overhaul. The building, which was rebuilt after being destroyed by fire in 1911, and was once occupied by Parkland Textiles is now home to a business centre. The chimney stands 92ft high and dates back to 1895.

Alan Hall, from Bradford Civic Society, said although the group is not a preservation society it has always been its view that the city's mill buildings should be put back into use when possible rather than be left to decay.

He says although the Conditioning House in Canal Road is not a mill, it is linked to Bradford's textile past and it too is in danger of being neglected unless it is saved soon.

"It's a unique building but it's got grass growing out of its roof now. There should be someone who is an entrepreneur wanting to develop it. The area is on the Bradford-Shipley corridor that Bradford Council is so keen to regenerate."

Bradford historian Nigel Grizzard has been calling for years for action to regenerate an estimated hundreds of derelict mills across the city.

He is now the chief executive of the Large Mills Group, a gathering of owners of the district's biggest mills - in and out of use - who meet to share ideas and inspire each other for how these buildings can be kept alive.

Salts Mill and Victoria Mills in Saltaire are shining examples of regeneration - Dalton Mills in Keighley, Listers Mill in Manningham and Sunnybank Mills in Farsley also belong to the group which Mr Grizzard says is "making a start on a long job" of making the most of what resources mill buildings can offer.

"There must be hundreds of mills with potential across the city and they are all resources - a space resource, a resource where jobs can be created and money can be made. We need to look at new methods of converting them, we have to look at sustainability. The mills have been there 100 years, we should be able to somehow use these buildings but we need a plan rather than doing it ad hoc."

The importance of mill buildings and what the future holds for them will be discussed at a conference at Lister Mills on Tuesday, October 14, organised by our Northern Mills group, a non-profit making organisation for textile mill enthusiasts wanting to raise the profile of mill buildings. To book a place, e-mail ngrizzard@aol.com.

Comments (8)

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7:38am Thu 28 Aug 14

June Oh says...

If so easy for fire to spread are these places fit for the public to in?
Is no one checking them for safety?
If so easy for fire to spread are these places fit for the public to in? Is no one checking them for safety? June Oh
  • Score: -5

8:00am Thu 28 Aug 14

bd7 helper says...

Memory's of bradford gone forever
Memory's of bradford gone forever bd7 helper
  • Score: 7

8:44am Thu 28 Aug 14

Not so simple says...

It's a shame that these buildings that have stood for hundreds of years are allowed to deteriorate to such an extent that neglect is the only word one could use to describe the levels of deterioration. The buildings are known to spontaneously combust and usually the blame is placed at the vandals, rough sleepers, louts, druggies: anyone buy the custodians of the buildings.

These old buildings are sat idle and generally empty or used by businesses of a transient nature or short term tenures. The buildings themselves require millions of pounds of work to bring them to modern standards and as a result these buildings are commercially rather worthless. However from a demolition / scrap perspective these stone buildings are a gold mine of treasures and any resulting insurance claim would be rather fruitful....despite it having no commercial value. The land itself is also useless UNTIL the building is knocked down and the site cleared for whatever purpose the new owner or present owner intends.

The way I see it if the building is allowed to remain empty or in a poor state of maintainence then the insurance companies should use their commercial nuggets and not insure the buildings or in the very least offer a very basic cover as per scrap value.

Every year it seems many buildings go up in smoke and the culprits are never caught or identified. Yet the owners of these historic sites get nice cheques from the insurer....something is seriously wrong when this happens...a line has to be drawn; you only get what the buildings are worth in scrap minus a huge excess. Of course if it's in good state of repair then the owners will get a higher insurance payout.

Take a look closer to home; if your house guttering is in a poor state of repair the insurers will refuse to pay as it's wear and tear or at the least reduce their liability by 30/80%. That's because you failed to protect and maintain the property. The same should apply to these mill owners.
It's a shame that these buildings that have stood for hundreds of years are allowed to deteriorate to such an extent that neglect is the only word one could use to describe the levels of deterioration. The buildings are known to spontaneously combust and usually the blame is placed at the vandals, rough sleepers, louts, druggies: anyone buy the custodians of the buildings. These old buildings are sat idle and generally empty or used by businesses of a transient nature or short term tenures. The buildings themselves require millions of pounds of work to bring them to modern standards and as a result these buildings are commercially rather worthless. However from a demolition / scrap perspective these stone buildings are a gold mine of treasures and any resulting insurance claim would be rather fruitful....despite it having no commercial value. The land itself is also useless UNTIL the building is knocked down and the site cleared for whatever purpose the new owner or present owner intends. The way I see it if the building is allowed to remain empty or in a poor state of maintainence then the insurance companies should use their commercial nuggets and not insure the buildings or in the very least offer a very basic cover as per scrap value. Every year it seems many buildings go up in smoke and the culprits are never caught or identified. Yet the owners of these historic sites get nice cheques from the insurer....something is seriously wrong when this happens...a line has to be drawn; you only get what the buildings are worth in scrap minus a huge excess. Of course if it's in good state of repair then the owners will get a higher insurance payout. Take a look closer to home; if your house guttering is in a poor state of repair the insurers will refuse to pay as it's wear and tear or at the least reduce their liability by 30/80%. That's because you failed to protect and maintain the property. The same should apply to these mill owners. Not so simple
  • Score: 25

10:38am Thu 28 Aug 14

Albion. says...

This isn't in Mill Street as quoted, but Mill Lane.
http://www.uktextile
mills.co.uk/images/b
radford_mills_-_bd5/
ivy_mills
This isn't in Mill Street as quoted, but Mill Lane. http://www.uktextile mills.co.uk/images/b radford_mills_-_bd5/ ivy_mills Albion.
  • Score: 4

2:11pm Thu 28 Aug 14

G_Whiz says...

Over the last few decades the voted in council has wanted to change Bradford for ever - now people are moaning that Bradford is changing for-ever! Wish people would make their minds up!!!!!!
Over the last few decades the voted in council has wanted to change Bradford for ever - now people are moaning that Bradford is changing for-ever! Wish people would make their minds up!!!!!! G_Whiz
  • Score: -3

3:24pm Thu 28 Aug 14

More of the same.. says...

Helen Thornton's (Saltaire officer) version of regeneration has helped to destroy Saltaire. Hopefully she will not Beatle to help wreck the mill. :)

Sadly the council: Doreen Lee / planning dept etc have some very dubious views of what progress actually is.
Helen Thornton's (Saltaire officer) version of regeneration has helped to destroy Saltaire. Hopefully she will not Beatle to help wreck the mill. :) Sadly the council: Doreen Lee / planning dept etc have some very dubious views of what progress actually is. More of the same..
  • Score: 5

3:25pm Thu 28 Aug 14

More of the same.. says...

Be able rather :)
Be able rather :) More of the same..
  • Score: 0

4:54pm Thu 28 Aug 14

mad matt says...

Ivy Mill was one of the first purpose built fully steam driven mills in Bradford. There were older mills that had started life using water power, then converted to steam later.
I used to work right against ivy Mill and it was almost derelict upstairs.
the problem with all woollen mills is that the lanolin from the fleeces soaks into the floorboards and when dry rot sets in, the whole building becomes a tinder box.
Ivy Mill was one of the first purpose built fully steam driven mills in Bradford. There were older mills that had started life using water power, then converted to steam later. I used to work right against ivy Mill and it was almost derelict upstairs. the problem with all woollen mills is that the lanolin from the fleeces soaks into the floorboards and when dry rot sets in, the whole building becomes a tinder box. mad matt
  • Score: 6

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