Hepworth Refractories, Loxley, South Yorkshire, June, 2020

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HughieD

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1. The History
The site, known as Storr’s Bridge Works, was last occupied by Hepworth Refractories, a former brick factory located, in the Loxley valley, north-east of Sheffield. It also home to Carblox in the 70s, part of the Marshalls group, who made carbon blocks of different sizes for steel furnaces.

The site has been an area for industry since the 17th century. Initially home to Loxley Steel works, the Green Wheel Steel works and two rolling mills – the Green Wheel and Olive rolling mills, the valley was totally decimated by the Great Flood of 1864. Now only the mill pond areas remain. The area has been a source of ganister (a type of sandstone which was prevalent in the Loxley area) since Victorian times. It was a key material in the manufacture of ‘hollow refractories’ - bricks that were used to line the walls of furnaces in the production of steel. Mining and the production of refractory bricks began in the late 1800s. In the 1930s there were a total of three firms in the Loxley Valley (Dysons, Thomas Marshall’s and Thomas Wragg and Sons) producing hollow refractories and, between them, they supplied 95% of all the hollow refractories produced in Great Britain.

When war broke out in 1939, the industry became vital to the war effort, and if the Germans had bombed the Loxley Valley successfully, the war would have been over very quickly. As a consequence, there was a gun site on Wood Lane, Stannington, which shot down several Luftwaffe planes during the Sheffield Blitz.

View of the River Loxley at Storrs Bridge Works in the 1960s:

402034602_257169f430_b.jpg River Loxley at Storrs Bridge Works, Loxley nr Sheffield (1960s).

Hepworth’s closed in the 1990s and the site fell into abandonment. However, in 2006 the site was bought by Bovis Homes with a view to building 500 new homes on the site. That was then defeated by local opposition, who objected on the grounds that the local area’s infrastructure could not support this level of development. During this period, Bovis beefed up the security on the site with a solar-powered CCTV and a speaker system along with a resident guard. In 2018 URBED were appointed by landowners Patrick Properties Ltd to help prepare a scheme that is “not a bog-standard housing development” as this is more likely to get past Sheffield City Councils planning requirements.

2. The Explore
A post-first lock down revisit. A massive industrial behemoth of the Loxley river five or six miles north west of Sheffield that often gets overlooked by a lot of explorers. The series of factories are trashed and derped but still fascinating in a derpy kind of way. Long gone are the live secca while Bovis Housing had an interest in the site. Hence currently it’s an easy in and there’s the added bonus of a number of nice pieces of graff that have appeared. The weather was nice, and I think I managed to get a better set of pictures than I did first time around.

3. The Pictures

Let’s start off with the locker rooms at the far north-west:

50001613978_44e2cdee9a_b.jpg Loxley 01 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002390662_9c0ec39fa0_b.jpg Loxley 02 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50001613018_3a3750efb4_b.jpg Loxley 04 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50001610613_a50685d635_b.jpg Loxley 13 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002388282_956cb75d18_b.jpg Loxley 11 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50001611333_fbf273cefd_b.jpg Loxley 10 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002131921_7162004fc0_b.jpg Loxley 09 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002389162_eb6751821b_b.jpg Loxley 08 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002132496_6f73f5da66_b.jpg Loxley 07 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002132811_04fdbc66d6_b.jpg Loxley 06 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50001612783_aee77d955d_b.jpg Loxley 05 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Let’s move on the main Hepworth factories. This is where all the best graff is and this old chimney:

50001541203_8e1cb11b76_b.jpg img6137 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002317507_df365f06f1_b.jpg img6138 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002129541_51ccfdc545_b.jpg Loxley 18 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002129856_d963ea5731_b.jpg Loxley 17 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002130196_72f2d34ac7_b.jpg Loxley 16 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50001610208_01b8310229_b.jpg Loxley 15 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50001546688_6a7e228da1_b.jpg img6126 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50001545663_ec9a5a890f_b.jpg img6127 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50001542618_e91e12b782_b.jpg img6134 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Some lovely Brayk pieces:

50002072856_55c670e3a0_b.jpg img6119 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002069896_210f151f78_b.jpg img6123 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002318807_d0b8208716_b.jpg img6135 by HughieDW, on Flickr

New MARRS piece, loving the DD and Mutley vibe here:

50002073646_0669a48b57_b.jpg img6117 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50001548263_2c8a3886ed_b.jpg img6124 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002071441_9be4c71784_b.jpg img6121 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002068556_1afdecbb19_b.jpg img6125 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Across the way in this aircraft-hanger like building full of broken up rubble:

50002064541_d50bd79158_b.jpg img6133 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50001544943_96ff376998_b.jpg img6131 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Finally, it’s on a little way down river to the kiln’s part:

50002310162_c16bcbaaff_b.jpg img6161 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002058836_a7882ca21d_b.jpg img6156 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002315092_7ee7b26dec_b.jpg img6155 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50001539603_55b05e5e57_b.jpg img6149 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50001538968_f91cc69f37_b.jpg img6153 by HughieDW, on Flickr

More MARRS:

50001536588_4a7d77b7b1_b.jpg img6157 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002312672_4dc092279b_b.jpg img6158 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002056581_5489392967_b.jpg img6159 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50001533728_f184613f73_b.jpg img6160 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002053971_a3d0545a66_b.jpg img6162 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002308717_0a81ab1f79_b.jpg img6164 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50001530688_6a4a52bf1d_b.jpg img6165 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002307072_c0785f6796_b.jpg img6167 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50001529378_66eacf6269_b.jpg img6168 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002050526_efa278ac8b_b.jpg img6169 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002049901_309cace8f4_b.jpg img6170 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50001527113_dcb379012b_b.jpg img6171 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002303712_b620d3aca9_b.jpg img6172 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002302247_bed2de2495_b.jpg img6175 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002046421_01935a52a9_b.jpg img6176 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002385927_0e4bfc3a8c_b.jpg Loxley 20 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002385072_5cec137611_b.jpg Loxley 23 by HughieDW, on Flickr

50002384792_15f3003f15_b.jpg Loxley 24 by HughieDW, on Flickr

There’s even an old WWII Air-raid shelter here:

50002129171_d5d0108c2f_b.jpg Loxley 19 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And finally – the reason why all of this is here in the first place…the River Loxley:

50002299067_d6e1ec0a41_b.jpg img6181 by HughieDW, on Flickr
 
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wolfism

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Great stuff, liking the Dick Dastardly & Mutley piece. I've explored the kiln buildings and sheds at Loxley, but the locker rooms look worth a poke about as well. :)
 

Judderman62

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I do have somewhat of a soft spot for this place. You've captured it very well here. I think a third/fourth visit might be on the cards for me.

It's a great gallery of Graf and Coloquix is a fave of mine - I actually bumped into him on leaving another site so said hi to him.
 

HughieD

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There's sooo much here. One massive factory site. An old house. An old brick works, a mine and another big factory. All currently doable. You could spend the day here. Weird it kind of gets overlooked. Used to be overshadowed by the nearby Dysons but that's all gone now.
 

250swb

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Wow, great photos. I photographed this site shortly after it was abandoned and made regular visits until the fences went up around the time Bovis bought it. I can't believe it's all still there. There was a lot of ephemera still around back then, log books, workers graffiti telling management what they could do (I imagine just before they were made redundant), tea pots etc. and kids hadn't started with the spray cans. There was even a dodgy looking area around the back of the large shed were it looked like they'd been dumping chemicals because the ground was shades of bright red and luminous yellow. Various heavy machinery was also still there. If it's easy to get into again I'd love to go back, maybe soon.
 

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