northern mills

Growing up in a Lancashire mill town, it was hard not to be influenced by the empty mills that littered the town in the 70's and 80's. The textile industry and it's ancillary industries dominated the towns and cities of Lancashire and West Yorkshire from the Victorian times up until the 1950's at which point it went into rapid decline as competition from overseas began to make life difficult. The urban and industrial landscape of these towns has changed much over the last few decades - first the chimneys were felled as they started to crumble through disuse and then the mills were razed to the ground as they became redundant. And in many towns, the rows of terraced houses that surrounded the mills have been demolished as well.

Although there are still a few spinning mills and bleachers and dyers left in operation, they are few and far between. I've spent the past ten years or so wandering the streets of the northern textile towns looking at the remaining mills and for the most part, the legacy of the industry has either been redeveloped, decaying or being demolished.

But here and there fragments remain. From the monstrous Bank Bottom Mills and Brierfield Mills that dominate the landscape of their communities, to the likes of Edenfield Mill and Griffe Mill tucked away in back lanes and fields, the industry has yet to be permanently erased from view.

Most of these photographs can be found in my Shadows of the North book - link.

Grove Rake Mine

Closed in 1999, this fluorite mine deep in the County Durham moorland was left abandoned for many years. I first visited in 2008 (see my Northern Rock gallery for more images) and I revisited in 2016 after demolition of all but the headframe. It's a remote, bleak, location and I decided to capture it's place in this landscape from different perspectives.

northern steel

The iron and steel industry is a tiny fraction of the size it was in the past, with only three major steelworks left, and the number of forges and foundries diminishes every year. And yet there is something awe inspiring about these places, where a combination of science, heat and massive energy is brought to bear on the earths materials to transform it into something workable and useful. The heat, noise and scale is on a different scale to anywhere else you could think of.

 

northern rock

The decline of the coal mining industry is controversial and well documented. But mining and quarrying doesn't stop with coal, Britain has a long history of extracting a wide range of other materials as well, and North Wales was once home to the biggest slate quarries on the world.

This particular aspect of the industrial landscape is one that has maybe had the biggest impact on the physical landscape - witness to that would be the North Wales slate industry that not only scraped away the sides of mountains but also left millions of tons of slate waste littering the hillsides of Snowdonia.  

The coal mining industry has had a different impact on the landscape. While many spoil heaps have been either landscapes or removed completely, the former mining communities across Britain's many coalfields continue to live in the shadows of their past.

The Duke of Lancaster

The Northern Landscape

Different perspectives on different facets of the industrial landscape. Basically, it's a collection of photographs that doesn't really fit into any of the other galleries! 

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