Echoes of the past: Changes on the canal over 32 years

Taken on Huddersfield Road bridge in 1985
Taken on Huddersfield Road bridge in 1985

Taken from the Huddersfield Road bridge the property on the left hand side was built as part of the Victoria Mills complex. The whole of this group of mill buildings stretched all the way across to Mill Lane on a 2.5 acre site. This was a nineteenth century power house of industry in Brighouse. I would be very interested to see any photographs of the mill showing what it was like inside with people and or machines at work - if any exist.

On the extreme left handside you will note it is only two storey’s high and is next to the adjoining property which has four storey’s. In 1905 the nearer missing two floors and the adjoining surviving two upper floors were ravaged by a huge mill fire. Thankfully once the two missing floors were removed and repair work was carried out to the adjoining top floors the mill was saved. Unlike a number of other even bigger mills close by that were completely destroyed by a fire.

Taken on Huddersfield Road bridge in 2010

Taken on Huddersfield Road bridge in 2010

The Victoria Mills were eventually to be demolished and the site cleared for the new Sainsbury’s Supermarket which was opened in 1998.

On the modern day photograph which I took in 2010 the right handside of the canal are the Millroyd Island apartments. These were converted from the old mill known as Stott’s Mill. Interestingly what you actually see today is only half of the original mill that was built. The half nearest to Huddersfield Road set on fire and was so damaged that it had to be demolished. The fire was attributed to that part of the mill being built on some quicksand. The centre of the mill settled in the quicksand causing friction to the shafting resulting in a fire and that part of the mill being destroyed.

The lower walls and window sills can be seen from the canal side and now forms the boundary wall between the apartments car park and the canal. Owing to the continual movement of the land under the destroyed mill it was decided not long after the fire to abandon any hope of rebuilding on the site again.

The remaining seven storey’s section of the mill when operating at maximum capacity had almost 50,000 spindles working and employed 250 people.