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Thread: Dairy Crest Creamery, Totnes - August 2009

  1. #1
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    Arrow Dairy Crest Creamery, Totnes - August 2009


    When I first walked in here, I thought "Oh crap, what a waste of time and effort". It looked rubbish. But once I got over the initial shitness, I discovered more and more of the site and by the end of the explore I was extremely impressed. Thanks to my Aunt who took me there, you're brilliant.

    It was originally the site of an atmospheric pumping house on one of Isambard Kingdom Brunel's railway, the Exeter/Newton Abbot line, built in the 1840s. The pumping house still survives, albeit converted to suit Dairy Crest's needs. The building was designed to pump air thorugh a tube in between the two rails, and trains would use this to propel themselves instead of carrying their own power source. This was extremely radical and ahead of it's time, and is one of the early examples of trains being given power from elsewhere and not using fossil fuels.

    The pumping house was unfortunately never used, as it was considered too radical, and rats chewed through the air valves along the route rendering it unreliable. Despite this, it is one of only three surviving pumping houses and is historically very important.

    A creamery opened on the site in 1934, the pumping house was converted into a production facility. Over the years the plant grew and grew, and now it is a sprawling mass of different aged buildings. It was home to several different companies including Unigate and Cow & Gate, before Dairy Crest took it over in 2000. The creamery packaged and bottled milk, not only for local deliveries but for Sainsbury's and Morrison's too. It closed in 2007, with a loss of over 180 jobs, a real shame. Production was moved to larger "super-dairies" in Gloucestershire and East London.

    After closure, the site made national news when Dairy Crest tried to demolish the pumping house. There was uproar from both locals and Brunel fans - indeed, Jeremy Clarkson (who did a TV show on Brunel) hit out against the demolition. He said;

    Dairy Crest is a jolly big and important company, I'm sure. But its chilled products will never worm their way into the fabric of Britain quite like Isambard Kingdom Brunel did. And, nor, I suspect, will whatever they propose to build when the pumping station has been pulled down. I urge them therefore to think again.
    Despite this, Dairy Crest proceeded to remove the roof of the pumping house, and would have totally demolished it had it not been for English Heritage listing the site. Dairy Crest have been forced to replace the roof, although it is a shoddy job.

    Enough waffle, on with the pics. This is Brunel's pumping house from the station bridge. The corrugated building in the background is also part of the site, as well as the chimney.



    The boiler house is vast, and houses two huge fire tube boilers, with flues connected to the landmark chimney. For some reason the roof is missing?





    They are huge; the control panel in this picture is only 5 feet high.



    As well as the control panel there was a separate rig containing dials and gauges.



    Seems an awful lot for two boilers...?



    Next to the boiler house was a tallish building containing some huge stainless steel tanks (not the oil tanks - these were separate) and then a small doorway led to a dark but very atmospheric room.





    To the left in this picture is another control rig, this time knocked over. It presumably controlled what was let in/out of the large tanks.



    Crossing a lorry park (in full view of the station) I stumbled across the store rooms - they were fairly stripped, a few bits and pieces lying around including a large motor.



    The site is split in two, with a river down the middle. I had no idea that there was about 70% of the site still to see across a bridge until I was ready to leave. This was when the site really picked up - before then I was a more than a little disappointed. It is a far more modern, corrugated factory/office affair, so nothing special to look at.

    The first thing you see inside is a large, empty cold store, punctuated only by thick columns. Every doorway is small and chunky to help insulate it. Now it is still cold and bleak, only for very different reasons.



    One of the small metal doorways at the end led into some more pleasant, airy factory floors.





    There were lots of doorways to take, but I think or saw it all. One of the factory floors still contained various bits of machinery.



    This one was fairly macabre...



    It had lot's of switches, but none of them seemed to be labelled.



    Yet more production space...



    The factory was connected to the office block by a dismal staircase. You may remember my report on another Dairy Crest Creamery in Devon from Christmas (http://www.28dayslater.co.uk/forums/...ad.php?t=35693). Just compare the elegant and extravagant staircase there to this boring, bleak one.



    The offices themselves were OK - light and airy, totally stripped of course...



    The staff canteen. Grim.



    The kitchen behind. Grimmer.



    The labs were the more interesting part of the office block. They were excellent, and they just got better and better.





    This was the best; a proper, full size laboratory complete with test tubes and gas taps.





    This was the Milk processing floor. My God, it stank.



    I almost thought it wasn't worth putting up with the foul stench. That was, until I found the control room.





    An excellent, excellent explore, well worth putting up with the smell, driving rain and initial crapness for.
    Last edited by clebby; 5th Aug 09 at 14:25.

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  3. #2
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    Some people are saying they prefer the photos in colour...

    Here's some of the same shots in colour -











    It's pretty monochrome anyway IMO, what do others think?

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    Thanks given by: HughieD

  4. #3
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    Excellent report and write up Clebby. Some of them pics are very nice! Perhaps they took the roof from the boiler house and put it over the pumping station!

    Jack

    It's all over.

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  5. #4
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    Fantastic photos.

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  6. #5
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    Thanks guys :)

    Haha Krypton, maybe that explains it

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