STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 05 Nov 2017, 04:25

John corrected me this morning, it was a senior moment!

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Would this have been better?

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The interior of the stack. By the way John told me this was his first climb and I take my hat off to him. It isn't easy. He couldn't have been with a better man than Young Tom, he will have looked after him.
What struck me about this pic is the similarity, but on a smaller scale, with Swabs at Middleton which was exactly the same construction, octagonal, no firebrick liner, just a short rise of protective common bricks and the big putlog holes left over from the build. I asked John if there was any evidence of internal lightning conductor tapes because Swabs had them but he said no.
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 06 Nov 2017, 06:40

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Tom coming off the Spotland Stack.
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 07 Nov 2017, 06:42

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Spotland Mill today.
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 08 Nov 2017, 05:16

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John sent me this video clip of the mill and truncated chimney before the present lowering even further.
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by chinatyke » 08 Nov 2017, 06:06

Looks like he may use a drone for chimney inspections, what a great use of technology.

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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 09 Nov 2017, 05:03

I think the video was unrelated China but I agree.

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I think this is Tom coming off the stack...... Lancashire laddering I see....
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Steeplejerk » 09 Nov 2017, 20:24

Some good pics by John ,hats off to him for getting up there,as you now Stanley,not the best place to be unless your nuts or used to it on a day to day basis,the big guy in the orange overalls is our man Swifty..
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 10 Nov 2017, 04:02

First climb is always interesting...... I did mine with Peter at Bancroft. John sent this yesterday, a better pic of Swifty.

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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 11 Nov 2017, 06:51

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Is there anything more depressing than the decay of what was once a thriving mill employing workers? Spotland Mill as it is now.
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 12 Nov 2017, 04:53

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Men at work on Spotland stack.
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Tripps » 12 Nov 2017, 11:01

With the phrase 'Northern Powerhouse' in mind -
it's almost embarrassing to see these photos. :smile:
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 13 Nov 2017, 04:31

It's an indictment of a failed policy David. From what John told me they are only dropping it to 45ft for safety reasons. Perhaps Tom can tell us more.....
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Steeplejerk » 14 Nov 2017, 07:45

The reasons for leaving the chimney at 45ft is a mystery apart from the rumour that there was bats roosting in it which I find hard to believe with all the other ideal roosts for them in the mill, all I know is there was a local councillor who bought the vicarage of the church just up the road ,the last thing he got passed before he retired was to turn it all into a conservation area,the new houses you can see behind the chimney had to be a certain spec ie slate roofs..
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 15 Nov 2017, 04:24

That sounds a bit suspect to me Tom..... Perhaps the old stack was spoiling his view.....
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 17 Nov 2017, 05:33

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Another pic of Tom and Swifty from John. They pulled his leg about it feeling as though they had a time and motion man on site!
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 19 Nov 2017, 07:18

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John has sent me some images of Dee Mill. First time I have seen any. My experience was only with demolishing the chimney and engine house.
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Steeplejerk » 19 Nov 2017, 07:58

I can still remember the day me and Peter went to Dee mill mill with you Stanley,all the shiney bits had been stolen from the engine and another mill was being demolished across the railway tracks,you commented "That's not demolition its vandalism" :biggrin2: ,the job was a complete mess,nothing stripped out just wacking it with the ball.
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 19 Nov 2017, 08:48

And look at the trouble I got into when I tidied everyone's mess up for them..... I got hate mail for weeks! In case anyone has forgotten, here's what I did....

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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 20 Nov 2017, 04:29

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Dee Mill engine in its hey day.

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How it looked when we went down. A sad sight and I put a lot of effort into it. At one point Oldham were considering re-erecting it at another location. I even got the quotations for moving it but it all fell through. My argument for Scheduled Monument Consent to Demolish was that as it stood it was an indictment of English Heritage and the system of protecting Ancient Monuments. It took them a year to admit I was right and Littlewood's demolished it.
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 21 Nov 2017, 06:28

If you look carefully at that last picture you'll see a clipboard and tape on the left hand HP cylinder and a man in a white hard hat on the right. This is the man who supported me right through Ellenroad, my architect, Peter Dawson. One of the sweeteners I offered English Heritage was a complete photographic and measured survey of the house and Peter and I were doing a measure up.
There were a couple of interesting things.... There were places where we couldn't get accurate measuring points and we rounded all the measurements up to the nearest 3". When Peter collated all our measurements in a drawing the totals were exactly right. Furthermore the engine house was, as near as dammit, perfectly square. This is not always the case!

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Another of John's images. The engine house as it was.
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 22 Nov 2017, 05:00

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Another image from John. Dee mill as it used to be.
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 23 Nov 2017, 06:31

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The last of John's images of Dee as it was....
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 24 Nov 2017, 05:05

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I held a watching brief on behalf of English Heritage on Dee Mill engine house for many years. I kept them up to date with what was happening to this Scheduled Ancient Monument. It was owned by an Irish Demolition contractor whose brother was a barrister and between them they ran rings round EH. It was obvious to me that their aim was to allow deterioration to the point where demolition was the only option. This would immediately increase the value of the site as it was bighted by having the SM in the middle of it. One stage in the plan was the dropping of the chimney by Mervyn Simpson using gelignite. He did a tidy job and I was there to see it.

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Mervyn loading the shot holes with explosives.
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 25 Nov 2017, 06:56

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Later in 1991 Littlewoods set me on to get Scheduled Monument Consent to Demolish the house and engine and a year later, in 1992, I made a bit of a mess of it. I came under attack from the rabid wing of the steam engine preservationists who didn't understand that protection had failed and this was the only sensible thing to do. The end result was redevelopment of the site and more employment.
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Re: STEEPLEJACK'S CORNER 2012

Post by Stanley » 30 Nov 2017, 07:00

I have a story for you.....

In October 1992 I got a telephone call from a bloke called Dave Biggin who was the development manager for Littlewood’s Home Shopping at Shaw, a very large mail order company. His firm owned two adjacent mills and used them for their business. They had bought the Dee Mill site and the surrounding land and wanted to develop it. My name had cropped up in correspondence about the earlier development proposal which had come to him with the site and he wanted to have a meeting to discuss the engine house. I went down to Shaw to see him and it became obvious that Littlewoods wanted the Dee Mill engine out of the way but wished to do everything by the book and, if possible, save the engine for re-installation on another site.
We went into the engine house and had a look at the engine. I can think of few sadder sights than a wonderful piece of machinery that has been vandalised. All the loose parts had been stolen for scrap, other parts damaged by ineffectual attempts at dismantling, the whole was red rust and had been sprayed all over by graffiti artists. To a bloke like me who had just spent eight years restoring Ellenroad it was a terrible sight. Worse was to come when we went in the cellar, it was obvious that someone was using it for shelter while taking drugs, it was damp, cold and absolutely filthy. A further problem was that there was septic water leaking in through the foundations, the most likely cause for this was organic matter rotting in the old mill lodge which had been filled with demolition rubble. We came out into the fresh air and I told Dave that I could get rid of it for him but it would be a long job. I pointed out that what we were proposing to do was the legal equivalent of demolishing Stonehenge and we would have to jump through a lot of hoops but it could be done. I think it was the first time anybody had made a positive and practical proposal for the site and after a day or two to consult he came back to me and gave me a free hand. They asked me how much my hourly rate would be and I plucked what to me was an enormous hourly rate out of mid air. They bit my hand off and I realised that I was out of touch, I’m pretty sure I could have doubled the figure! I went away a wiser man but stuck by the figure I had quoted.
In many ways it was like a mini version of Ellenroad but instead of refurbishing the engine my job was to get rid of it. Same difference actually as I was dealing with the same people, the same laws and the same bureaucracy. I had to consult with everybody involved, the Northern Mill Engine Society (NMES), Oldham Borough Council, the local Museums Service and English Heritage. NMES weren’t interested as they regarded the engine as being beyond saving. Oldham would have liked it for the Manor Mill Project they were starting in the town but hadn’t got any money and the Economic Development department of the council wanted to see it out of the way so they could facilitate new investment in the site with more jobs and rateable value for the town.
I reported back after a few weeks and told Littlewoods that we should make an application for Scheduled Monument Consent to demolish the engine house and scrap the engine. This rather surprised Littlewoods as this was what they had always been told couldn’t be done. They questioned me very closely about the strategy but I convinced them that there was nothing to be served by pussy-footing about, we had to come out of the closet and ask for exactly what we wanted. The crux of the matter was that we would have to convince English Heritage, the Archaeological Committee at the Science Museum and the Department for Heritage that the scheduling process had failed and Dee Mill was in indictment of the whole system. The best solution was to bite the bullet, demolish and accept Littlewood’s offer to fund a textile survey in Oldham by the Museum’s Service to give interpretational input to the new exhibitions at Manor Mill. We had to bide our time while the committees ground their way through the proposal but in the end I got a result. Subject to our doing a measured drawing of the house and a photographic record we got permission to apply.
I went down to Rochdale and had a word with Peter Dawson who had been my architect at Ellenroad and we arranged to go to Dee and measure the building up. Measuring a building like Dee Engine House is a two man job because somebody has to hold the end of the tape! True, there are modern instruments which measure by bouncing a pulse off an opposing wall but methods like this were no good to us as many of the measurements we needed were obstructed by parts of the engine. Additionally, Peter needed my advice as theoretically we were measuring to a standard which would enable someone to use the drawings to reinstall the engine, this meant that the position of things like holding down bolts had to be carefully plotted.
One of the first things we discussed was which system of measurements we would use. There isn’t a lot of point measuring a building built using the old imperial measures in metric units! As it turned out, the building was constructed in increments of three inches. Anywhere where we couldn’t get an accurate measurement because of obstruction we guessed to the nearest three inches! The acid test of any measured plan is when the draughtsman sits down at the drawing board and converts the measurements made on site into a scale drawing. Any discrepancy between the overall sizes and the cumulative totals of the individual measurements stands out like a sore thumb. Peter said that all the measurements fell together like a jigsaw puzzle, as much a commendation for the original builders as the draughtsman. The other thing that became obvious was that the building was perfectly square, quite an unusual thing in a large old building like the Dee House.
I did a series of photographs detailing every part of the engine and building and then sat down to write the report. I detailed the history of the engine, the measures that had been taken to protect it and the reasons why these had failed. My overall opinion was that Dee Mill was an indictment of the Scheduling system, a standing reproach to the conservation authorities and the sooner it was accepted that it had been lost through neglect and permission given to demolish, the better. This report, together with the pictures was used as supporting evidence for the Scheduled Monument Consent to Demolish application and I delivered the whole thing by hand to the authorities in London. As I told Dave Biggin, all we could do now was sit back and wait while the system digested our application and came back to us with a decision. Dave asked me what the chances were and I told him that I couldn’t be sure but I reckoned they would jump at the chance to get the problem out of the way.
I submitted the request for Scheduled Monument Consent to Demolish Dee Mill Engine in February 1993 and the Consent was granted on 23rd May 1994. I gave the necessary notifications to everyone involved and we started demolition early in the morning of June 18th 1994. Everything done by the book. During 1993 we did a complete asbestos clearance of the house which needed no permission as it was a Health and Safety hazard.
Dave Biggin had found the contractors, D&M Demolition. It was a sunny Saturday morning and at half past five in the morning we were unloading a big tracked back hoe off its transporter and getting on to the site. The engine house stood alone in the middle of a field of rubble and we could get to it all round. I knew that as soon as we were noticed the enthusiasts would come out of the woodwork and we would get a certain amount of flak. Before we even went on the site I primed the lads that were doing the job, if asked any questions they were to say they knew nothing beyond the fact that it was legal and they had a job to do. If asked about me, I was just an amateur photographer doing some pictures. I had told them exactly what I wanted doing and they started into the building.
Unless you have seen it done before you can have no idea how quickly a big machine can destroy a building. There was nothing subtle about our approach, the machine got up to the building, reached out and simply pushed a section of wall in until it collapsed. We started by breaking the pillars between the windows on the south side and as we did the second pillar the roof fell in with a tremendous roar. We worked our way round the building collapsing the walls until we arrived at the end where the flywheel was. I told the driver to drag the rubble back into a ramp, climb the ramp until he could reach the flywheel and smash the castings on top. I knew that whatever happened, once this was done it was obvious that there was no going back, my worry was that we might end up with people lying down in front of the machine to stop us. It was far too late for anyone to save the engine but there were certain to be people who wouldn’t understand this and we had to very quickly reach a point where it was obvious that the demolition was irreversible.
As the machine was smashing the castings on the wheel a man came running across the site in dressing gown, pyjamas and carpet slippers. He was absolutely livid and started screaming and shouting at the machine driver. Eventually he gave up and retreated but said he was going to ring the Council. We carried on levelling the house and had started to drag the rubble and wreckage back off the engine.
The man who had tried to stop us returned with a Councillor he had dragged out of bed. This bloke was evidently trying to play it as though he had not known that the demolition was going to happen, he did know of course because during the process of consultation it had been voted through in a full meeting of the Council. I suspect he was trying to keep his constituent on-side politically by pretending he knew nothing about it.
I decided it was time I came out of the closet and introduced myself to the Councillor. He took me on one side and muttered to me that he was glad to see the engine house going but was it legal? I assured him that the Consent had been granted and the necessary letters giving fourteen days notice had been sent three weeks before. Thus armed he went back to his constituent and made whatever explanations were necessary. I felt sorry for the protester actually because he evidently had strong feelings about the engine but as I said later, they’d had twelve years to do something about it but had simply sat back and watched it decay. We had several more officials round our ears during the day and the press as well but we were legal and the bottom line was that the vast majority of local residents wanted it to go.
The Oldham Evening Chronicle of Wednesday June 22nd 1994 carried a half-page article headed ‘Demolition was no Monumental Mis-happening’. One of only two listed ancient monuments in the Oldham area has been flattened… On Saturday morning workmen moved on to the Shaw site and demolished it… Almost immediately Councillor Rod Blyth received a telephone call from a local resident asking what was happening to the building. The Borough Planning Officer was called out but it turned out the building was de-scheduled two weeks ago [Technically speaking this was wrong, what had happened was that the Secretary of State for the National Heritage had granted Scheduled Monument Consent to demolish.] which meant it could be pulled down… Councillor Blyth said …this is another example of one department not knowing what another is doing’. (A nice piece of ‘not me Guv’ damage limitation!)
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