The iconic red brick mill was once part of Bradford’s textile heritage. Now Ackroyds mill, also known as Ben Hillas, in Factory Street, Dudley Hill, is being clawed to the ground after fire ravaged the building late last year. Pictured above are firefighters tackling the blaze.

The first mill on the site, according to informaton from the former Dudley Hill Local History Group, was built by James Hillhouse, Matthew Rhodes, an engineer from Low Moor, and John Davidson, landlord of the Engineers Hotel, Dudley Hill, in 1839.

Looking back, the mill appears to have been ill-fated. In the 19th century a gale-force wind damaged its roof and caused structural damage to the building and in 1890 it was engulfed by fire. It was rebuilt in 1894 and run by the Benjamin Hillas family.

During the First World War it is understood that some of its workers joined the armed forces, while the remainder produced yarn for uniforms. Around that time the machinery was driven by a steam-powered engine, and gas burners illuminated the work rooms.

One 74-year-old Bradfordian, who doesn’t wish to be named, recalled the camarderie at the mill, where she went to work in the drawing department, aged 15. “We had a good laugh – you had to have laughs because it was such hard work,” she says.