I had heard about this place from 28dayslater but hadn’t really thought much more of it until we were on the tram one day, which we did only because the trains were not running. There from the station at Freehold I saw this magnificent old mill and for curiosities sake needed to have a closer look.
Hartford Mill was built 1907 by the Hartford Mill (Oldham)Co Ltd. It was extended 1920 and 1924 and closed 1959. In later years it was used by Littlewoods as a mail order warehouse until 1992. The mill’s Architect was F W Dixon, there were 120,000 spindles and power was provided by a very impressive 1500 hp Urmson & Thompson engine reputedly the only one of this configuration built by this firm.
This building is also Grade II listed with English Heritage.
Seeing as though we don’t have a car, a place like this being so close to public transport is idea. We had planned a few explorations over the past couple of weeks only to find access had changed. But this place looked a sure thing from the tram and I was keen to get out and take some photos for my uni work as well as exploring somewhere new.
Access was even easier than expected, which is rarely the case. It is literally a walk in, but the weather had been terrible that day, we were soaked and so was the building. With it missing half a roof the water was dripping all the way down to the bottom floor with the middle of the large rooms looking pretty sketchy. So we stuck the the edges and made our way floor by floor around this cavernous old relic of Oldham’s industrial past.
It is interesting to note that this is a grade II listed building with quite a lot of controversy surrounding it’s ownership and development which has resulted in it’s current state of decaying limbo. I think it is a real shame that such historic places are left to rot like this, but I feel in it’s current state it is just a matter of time before it is demolished on health and safety grounds despite it’s listed.
I do understand though that such large places are difficult to develop. Such space is no longer needed for the industries of today and unless it is split up like some other mills in the area or turned into apartments like many in Ancoats it is just too large a space to do something with and with council budgets what they are there is little room for sentimentality.
This place has been empty for a long time (Since 1992) and as such is pretty much just a shell, not even one pane of glass has been spared. This in itself made it an interesting exploration as that usual heavy smell of decay was missing and almost every room filled with natural light. The place is also quite clean, apart from the top floor it is also a relatively pigeon free zone, which is a novelty!
I know some people find these types of explorations of little appeal, and admittedly I prefer somewhere with more features and remnants, but just the scale of the rooms make it worth the effort. I love the way time takes it’s toll on these places, the rust, peeling paint and general atmosphere. Somewhere so alive with noise and activity an eerie space in which every little drip or creak is extenuated and you almost feel as though you have stepped into another world from the busy roads and rumbling modern tram tracks below.
As well as taking my DSLR I brought along a few film cameras too. I am looking at my next stage of development in my uni ideas and project and want to experiment with film and photography. I will be experimenting with these images further and look forward to developing my films once I have taken the cameras to a few other locations.