Wednesday, 4 April 2012
Lister's Mill, Manningham
You're used to seeing the huge bulk of Salts Mill, Saltaire, from all angles on this blog. There is, however, an even bigger mill in Manningham in Bradford called Lister's Mill. In its heyday it was the largest silk mill in the world, employing 11000 workers. Built by Samuel Cunliffe Lister in 1873, in Italianate style (like Salts Mill), it replaced an earlier mill that was destroyed by fire. It manufactured high quality silks and velvet, including the velvet robes for King George V's coronation and new velvet curtains for Gerald Ford in the White House. In WWII it made parachute silk.
Unlike Saltaire, it is simply a mill complex and has no associated 'company village', so it is not as interesting or as well-placed for tourism. Nevertheless it has always been a dominant feature on Bradford's skyline and is a place that the city is justifiably proud of.
Lister's Mill struggled on as a business into the early 1990s but then had to close. There were many suggestions for using the buildings but the sheer size proved problematic. Local people campaigned very hard to save them and they are now Grade II listed. Eventually they were bought by a company called Urban Splash and are being converted into luxury apartments, in phases. Sadly, the private use means you can't get into the complex to look round (though there are some great photos and videos on Urban Splash's website). It's hard to appreciate the sheer grandeur of the mills from the perimeter. In many ways you get more of an idea of the size from a long way away; the huge mill chimney, sitting right on top of a hill, is visible for miles.