Washpit Mill, Yorkshire, May 2019

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HughieD

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1. The History
The earliest parts of this mill date back to 1822. These were extended in 1827. The owners, Joseph and George Hinchcliff, took raw wool and processing it into spun yarn. By the end of the Crimean War in 1856, the Hinchliff's were starting to experience difficulties running the business, and by 1873, James Watkinson had moved into this mill. At the start of the James Watkinson’s tenure comes the first episode of some significant industrial strike action with 40 of his power loom weavers going on strike in April 1875 in protest at a woman being employed. A rather more serious strike began in May 1876 when he suggested a lower weave rate for a newly introduced cloth with fewer picks per inch. In the end the strike came to an end when Watkinson agreed to the striker's demands over the weaver rate.

By 1910 lists James Watkinson & Sons Ltd were listed as having 5,700 spindles, and 140 looms. Throughout the company’s life they produced woollen cloth, making them one of the few companies in the area not to move almost entirely into worsteds. A key market was selling serges (a type of twill fabric that has diagonal lines or ridges on both sides) for military uniforms that stemmed from firm's production of the first wool-dyed khaki serge used by the British Government in 1900. Watkinson died in 1922, aged 58. Despite this production continued to increase and by the early 1940s the spinning capacity had increased to 7,800 spindles from 130 looms. Prior to World War II the mill employed over 500 people. This dropped to just over 300 in the early 50s. Everything appeared to be going well until the 1970s when all mills were experiencing difficulties. In 1980, Watkinson & Sons Ltd. went into receivership and the company closed before Christmas that year. In 1988, Westwood Yarns carpet spinners were using part of the mill. They had since made alterations to the buildings - demolishing some of the older parts of the mill and making new additions in the 1990s. However, in December 2015 the administrators were called in and by February the next year the company had ceased trading.

After lying empty for a couple of years, Sheffield-based Prospect Estates was denied approval to convert the Grade II listed Westwood Yarns mill into a 23-bed hotel and 48 houses, 16 apartments, a restaurant and offices. Four months later Prospect Estates submitted a revised proposal that removed the hotel and spa and some office space, replacing them with a residents’ gym and housing. Work is now well under way with a large part of the well now having been demolished.

2. The Explore
This was a bit of a come down after the nearby Dobroyd mill. A demolition firm have now taken down a large part of the mill. Some of the team were on site so had a chat with them. They told me they had to tender for the site. They then recouped the money by reusing the stone and any precious metals and dismantling the factory and selling it to a company near Harrogate for reassembly and reuse. Not a lot of interest left was open, and the main building was sealed so this is more of an up-date than an in-depth report. Below is a picture of Washpits before the site was demo’ed:

48023425163_7085f252d6_b.jpg Washpit by HughieDW, on Flickr

The mill to the back left and centre as now all gone.

So not particularly worth making a detour now.

3. The Pictures

The mill’s date stone:

47934931473_ed465e831e_b.jpg img0998 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47934923391_afce203422_b.jpg img0999 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47934967331_c201233f52_b.jpg img0996 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47935030633_375e56af08_b.jpg img0991 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The substantive bit of the mill that still remains:

47935040147_9a671205b4_b.jpg img0989 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47935119818_77ca2bfddd_b.jpg img0983 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The building here is listed and will be turned into a gym:

47934944293_e02227088c_b.jpg img0997 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47935109731_5e561c1c4c_b.jpg img0984 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Inside there has been some pretty serious work done on the building’s infrastructure:

47935068996_58141b49cf_b.jpg img0988 by HughieDW, on Flickr

This second three-storey building next to the mill pond was marginally interesting in the inside:

47934974688_9ff87de2c4_b.jpg img0995 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47934993206_3dbf286b42_b.jpg img0994 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47935004807_6c7fdaf084_b.jpg img0992 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And some semi-interesting signage outside:

47935011276_dabcdacb97_b.jpg img0993 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47935040758_b923405b6b_b.jpg img0990 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And the old mill pond that sits behind it:

47935065912_c89058c79a_b.jpg img0986 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47935095386_7e3ded5a4b_b.jpg img0985 by HughieDW, on Flickr
 

Mearing

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Good stuff Hughie, sad that so many mills have gone, nice mill pond remains tho'

P.S. For anyone interested in Long Marston airfield it is now derelict and difficult to access. Probably transgressed adding this to your post!
 

HughieD

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Good stuff Hughie, sad that so many mills have gone, nice mill pond remains tho'

P.S. For anyone interested in Long Marston airfield it is now derelict and difficult to access. Probably transgressed adding this to your post!

Cheers mate. Better has a shufty at Long Marsden!

Nice work sir, I always fancied this place but everytume I looked it was sealed apart from the culvert entry and I didn't fancy that.
Top work mate.


Cheers fella. Get yer sen over for a look see before it's too late!
 

Sabtr

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Yup when I saw the pond I thought fish too!

I suppose with this site at least part of it is being saved and put to further use - mind you, the demolished buildings could well have been in a bad state anyway..
I'm curious: With the saved building, do you know why it was listed and preserved? I'm wondering why it was so special.
 

Dirus_Strictus

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Like many of the listed 3/4 storey Mill buildings, this one was preserved because it is very early and because of its location, has not been 'modernised' over the years. By the very nature of their internal layout, these early multi-storeyed mills lent themselves to many manufacturing processes and thus, internal alterations over the decades. Just the application of the ever changing 'Fire Regulations' caused drastic alterations to the interior of my wife's family mill, Castleton Mills in Armley. However this building was listed because so much of the original interior layout remain, despite the work done to keep the mill in production and meet modern safety standards.
 

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