Monday, February 06, 2012

We’ve had a small amount of snow over the weekend but nowhere anything like they said was going to fall. I took Robbie out expecting to take some photos but all I managed where these shots of the India Mill chimney. One on the way out and one on the way back. Still nice chimney!

For me personally it symbolises a time when we could actually do things without cost or other considerations coming into the equation. A time when what we built endured and also a reminder that what we do today will never equal the industry that was seen then. It is probably a bit of an anachronism these days, but as it is a listed building it has to be preserved.

Here’s a bit of the history.

The mill - and particularly the chimney - was a wonderful example of the flamboyant confidence of the Lancashire cotton industry in the middle of the 19th century. The chimney modelled around St Marks Campanile in Venice was opened  in May 1868 by the Marquis of Hartington was a very grand affair with lords and ladies and a vast exhibition of paintings and sculptures covering three floors. Many of the paintings, by Gainsborough, Van Dyck, and Durer and so on, would today be worth millions. For the lads who actually built the chimney with their hand-made bricks there was a more modest lunch at the nearby Crown Inn. They never imagined that their work would become famous in the annals of industrial architecture.

The towering stack built of red brick decorated with bands of blue and yellow and local sandstone, standing tall in proud isolation is Lancashire’s tallest at 330ft. In 1943 more than 20 tons of iron cresting was removed for the war effort. Fifty years later, after the mill had closed, steeplejack Fred Dibnah propped up his ladders and took a close look at the structure. It was serious – remedial work had become vital.

By then the peregrine falcons had moved in and they weren’t easy to dislodge. Eventually, after their nesting area had been covered in netting to keep them away for a few months, the builders were able to move in during the summer of 2007, fastening a steel hoist and cage to the south side ready to start the lengthy job of rebuilding the top ten feet and capping the structure.

It was a lengthy and difficult job and a considerable attention to detail was necessary. The new bricks had not only to be the same in colour but of Imperial measure as opposed to metric and they were eventually obtained from a firm in Barrow-in-Furness.

There was extensive repointing, several balusters were replaced while others were treated and coated; metal ties were replaced and the octagonal lining which runs half-way up the inside of the chimney was renovated. Finally, nesting boxes filled with gravel were placed near the top of the chimney to encourage the falcons to return. Several myths about windows and secret staircases built into the chimney were also dispelled during the renovation.

Here are my 2 pictures (in black and white to match the others)

These isn't mine (obviously)