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.

15 comments:

  1. Fine angular composition, not the usual view of the mill, I'm sure. There's going to be a lot of luxury appartments here when the project's finished; one would hope that there'll be a small area set aside as a museum to what was there before.

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    1. I don't know if a museum is planned but it would be a nice touch.

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  2. Boy! You know how to sidetrack a person. I've been watching slide shows and videos of Urban Splash and the Lister Mill designer. This subject interested me not only because I love to see old buildings brought back to life but because my eldest daughter is a designer of commercial buildings. I sent her the link.

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    1. Ha- I know what you mean. I often get side tracked! It is exciting what they're doing with the old building.

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  3. A part of Lister's Mill has been retained for Community and Public use, and that is - what has become Manningham Mills Community Centre, just a few yards up the hill from where your photo was taken. I only go once a year (for their Annual Women's Day event), but it is a brilliant use of space and seems to be very well used. Should go more often!
    Never 'done' Blogs before, but yours is a delight and I check it out daily. Thank you.

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    1. Thanks Joode. I didn't know about the Community Centre until I met someone who has a flat in the mill and she told me they do lunches for the over 50s (and that's me!). I'll have to check it out.

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  4. If Urban Splash have got it I wouldn't be too worried. Everyone thought they'd wreck Fort Dunlop in Birmingham but they've actually done a very sympathetic job with it. (And let's face it - there's not a lot you can do with redundant factories that doesn't involve creating a living/shopping/entertainment complex. The alternative would have been to demolish it and that would have been tragic.)

    You can see Fort Dunlop on their website too. http://www.urbansplash.co.uk/gallery

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    1. I think people were pretty excited when they knew it was Urban Splash - they have a good name.

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  5. Nice shot Jenny. I like the lines and colour.

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  6. That chimney is a fine piece of architecture in its own right. But I have to wonder, just how many silk moths did it take to keep 11000 humans employed? And how many acres of mulberry trees?

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    1. Yes, I wonder where the silk came from... must try and find out.

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  7. Another interesting photo, jennyfreckles, and it has been enhanced by the intelligent comments. Well, at least, the comments before I stumbled in here . . .

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    1. I enjoy your comments Jack - and yes, there's a lot of pleasure in reading comments on blogs as well as the blogs. Takes so long though!!

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  8. The mother and child in the foreground give a sense of the scale of the place. I have indeed seen Lister's mill from afar, including from the trig point on top of Hope Hill. It is extremely impressive.

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