W.H. Shaws, Diggle, Lancs, July 2019

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Regular Member
Jan 6, 2013
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People's Republic of South Yorkshire.
1. The History
W.H.Shaw Ltd is located at Dobcross Works. The centrepiece is the Grade II-listed Office Building of the former Dobcross loom works, known locally as “The Cathedral”. Built in1890 for Huchinson and Hollingworth in a Gothic style, it is revered for its 4-stage clock tower.

The loom works themselves date back to 1860. The main chimney was built in 1863 and was subsequently enclosed. A number of the original buildings burned down in 1875, then a larger works was erected on the same site and extended between 1890 and 1900 to provide the main area of the factory. The company was a world leader in the manufacture of textile machinery and the "Dobcross Loom" was exported worldwide in the late 19th century.

Most of the original buildings were demolished from 1912 onwards, with only occasional elements still remaining from the original works due to losses suffered in a large fire circa 1925. From 1920 and over the next ten years saw some serious reconstruction work that included the building of the water tower. A new large building was built to the north in two stages in 1910 and then in 1920 on the site of the former Wrigley Mill.

Aerial shot of the mill from 1926:

48252896586_b8e9482727_z.jpgWH Shaw Ariel by HughieDW, on Flickr

The buildings were used for munitions in World War I and for making parts for Russian submarines in World War 2. More recently the site was subsequently used as a pallet works (WH Shaw) between 1969-2006 (reputedly one of the largest pallets works in Europe) and more recently used for an injection moulding business.

In 2015 WRT Developments Ltd submitted four different planning permission requests to demolish the existing buildings on the WH Shaw site apart from the listed office building and clock tower and link bridge. The plans then detailed the construction of the new Saddleworth School. The applications were approved in April 2016, with work start later in 2016 and conclude in 2018. However, at a judicial review by the High Court quashed all four permissions on one ground; committee members did not address the “additional financial, educational and construction burdens of keeping the Uppermill site to avoid the substantial harm of the heritage asset”. The plans were resubmitted in January 2018 and the £19m 1,500 pupil school came a step closer to happening when the Environment Agency lifted their objection to the school on the basis of an unacceptable flooding risk. A new planning application, again with four proposals, was considered in February 2019 with all four applications were approved unanimously by the committee ten years after the plans were first mooted. Despite the approval, as at July 2019, the site remains abandoned.

2. The Explore
Been wanting to come here for a while so good to final explore this place. Explored in non-member Gazza. It’s a big site so getting in isn’t a massive issue. Secca seem to have given up the ghost but there is a concerted effort to keep the clocktower building sealed up. Had a good hour looking round the industrial goodness this place has to offer. It’s a mishmash of different buildings and some are more interesting than others. One thing that did strike us in the older bit of the factory was the amount of pigeon carnage. Not sure what has led to this. Weirdest moment of the explore was when I heard someone around the corner from me. Assumed it was Gazza. Then this random bloke with a screwdriver walked past me and muttered something to me in a foreign language, then just disappeared as quickly as he had appeared. Saw nothing else of him.

So, the clock tower eluded us. It’s a shame as it is the most beautiful building externally and internally.

3. The Pictures

Did I mention the bonus tunnel under the canal?

48226522327_dcab8da12a_b.jpgimg1758 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48245212287_afde29763e_b.jpgDiggle 04 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The first thing you see from afar:

48228537677_213c1cb1b4_b.jpgimg1832 by HughieDW, on Flickr

On-site we go:

48226503902_300c2c5051_b.jpgimg1771 by HughieDW, on Flickr

This building didn’t have a lot to offer:

48226488392_a449361d17_b.jpgimg1773 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48226419056_f4f3c8007c_b.jpgimg1774 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Or this one:

48245204642_d5a5d23967_b.jpgDiggle 05 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The famous bridge:

48226451957_2429e8bbb4_b.jpgimg1776 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48226426492_1665dce616_b.jpgimg1779 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48245187572_c8c84dfae3_b.jpgDiggle 07 by HughieDW, on Flickr
And the very big chimney:

48226438392_08dbdf0696_b.jpgimg1778 by HughieDW, on Flickr

A tempting yoink opportunity. Resisted.

48226402417_ef3366da3f_b.jpgimg1782 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The best bit of the site:

48226331656_b6dce52239_b.jpgimg1783 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48226319281_30b9a3cdf0_b.jpgimg1785 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48226364087_489d902cc9_b.jpgimg1786 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Just externals sadly:

48226333547_f7674ae72b_b.jpgimg1788 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48226184246_24c5777d20_b.jpgimg1803 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Into the main bit of the factory:

48226262361_b4a1601b78_b.jpgimg1789 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48245079671_5d4f640e96_b.jpgDiggle 10 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Good advice:

48226306382_f7109737a6_b.jpgimg1793 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Lonely is the first-aid cabinet:

48226281612_1f2fffd0e7_b.jpgimg1798 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And that tunnel from the inside:

48245159597_ed25b11462_b.jpgDiggle 11 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Factory floor:

48226198751_e2f30de105_b.jpgimg1802 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48226229502_5e598ec6ff_b.jpgimg1804 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48226215102_fa51c02d18_b.jpgimg1806 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And up to the older bit of the factory:

48226207877_c2dc57f60c_b.jpgimg1808 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Not the second wave of punk Oi band:

48226137296_8dbcf7c3c3_b.jpgimg1809 by HughieDW, on Flickr


Gotta be organised:

48226149727_8a4b498be0_b.jpgimg1812 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48226066401_3e65dd099b_b.jpgimg1813 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48226052551_64ee5123d7_b.jpgimg1814 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48226094192_d5ffcc77dd_b.jpgimg1816 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48228606541_6be7143f58_b.jpgimg1819 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48228592516_22d6a00d83_b.jpgimg1820 by HughieDW, on Flickr


48228646767_32e5dfdb76_b.jpgimg1821 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48228570097_ae9a8ed818_b.jpgimg1829 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48228628317_e719f5bd7c_b.jpgimg1822 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48228615752_71e61cbc18_b.jpgimg1823 by HughieDW, on Flickr


48228599917_f094ba7250_b.jpgimg1824 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48228520096_c4ebd5eca3_b.jpgimg1825bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

48228493466_0e318bb2dc_b.jpgimg1830 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48245057286_8c1bd18a3a_b.jpgDiggle 14 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The water-tower:

48245050941_12b2b1dd0f_b.jpgDiggle 15 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48245110381_537cdf587d_b.jpgDiggle 06 by HughieDW, on Flickr


Regular Member
Jun 7, 2014
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Do love the look of this I must get here before it goes. Cracking set of pics as always HD