Tag Archives: Explore

Willington Cooling Towers

After construction started in 1959, commissioning started in 1963 and carried on until 1965, this 1 gig coal fired power station was to be the prototype for all large power stations built in the UK. It Had 2 generating sets powered by coal and a gas turbine based on an industrial version of Rolls Royce Avon Engine.

It was originally operated by the Central Electricity Generating Board but after privatisation in 1990 it was operated by National Power. In 1994 the power station closed and the 45 acre site was abandoned.

Much of the power station has since been demolished and now its six cooling towers each 100 m high and 79 m in diameter at the base, two ash slurry hoppers and railway sidings are the only remaining buildings.

There have been several proposals for the site, which include a car distribution depot and a landfill site, both of which have not proven popular with the local residents

Terry’s Chocolate Factory

In 1926, Terry’s Chocolate moved to a purpose-built factory off Bishopthorpe Road York. It was here that some of the most enduring brands were created. All Gold was first produced here in 1930 and the Chocolate Orange in 1931.

In 1939 the Second World War saw a change of use for the factory, F Hills and Sons, a manufacturer and repairer of aircraft propeller blades from Manchester, moved into the factory.

After the war it reverted back to chocolate and in 1975 the company was acquired by United Biscuits. In 1993 Kraft General Foods buys the Terry’s Group from United Biscuits and joins it with Jacobs Suchard to create Terry’s Suchard.

In 2004 Kraft announces the closure of the York site and on September 30, 2005, the factory closes it’s doors for the final time with production moving to mainland Europe.


John Marston was born in Ludlow, Shropshire in 1836, at 15 he was sent to Wolverhampton to be apprenticed to Edward Perry as a japanware manufacturer. 8 years later, he left and set up his own company: John Marston ltd.

In 1897 they began making bicycles and Sunbeam was born, consequently the Paul street factory in Wolverhampton was named Sunbeamland.

In 1905 the Sunbeam Motor Car Company Ltd was born, but when a slump affected the car industry in 1912, they where pushed into producing motorcycles and following on from their bicycle production the motorcycles where of a very high quality.

After the First World War, the company was sold to a consortium, in 1927 this consortium was amalgamated to include I.C.I.

In 1937 AMC purchased the Sunbeam motorcycle trademark and moved the production to London. I.C.I who kept ownership of the building, proceeded to manufacture radiators for cars and aircraft at this site.

St Mary’s Asylum

Opened 1913 as the Pauper Asylum for Gateshead, it became Gateshead County Borough Mental Hospital in 1920, then St Mary’s Hospital from 1948 Closed in 1995.

The asylum was requisitioned by the military use in World War I. At the end of the war the site was returned to Gateshead, who added a nurse’s home in 1927-8 and modified the isolation hospital to form a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients.

World War II led to the development of a hutted Emergency medical services hospital to the north of the admission unit, which was also requisitioned. The end of the war brought about the creation of the NHS, under which the hospital became known as St. Mary’s – named after the Stannington parish church. The hutted emergency hospital was converted to house mental defectives.

St Johns Asylum

The Asylum was built in 1852 as “Lindsey and Holland Counties and Lincoln and District Lunatic Asylum” on a slight rise in Bracebridge parish, on the high road to Sleaford.

Originally built to house 250 inmates, it was enlarged in 1859, 1866, 1881 and 1902. The asylum grounds covered 120 acres.

Through its history, the Asylum was known under many different names including “Bracebridge Heath Asylum” and “Lincolnshire County Pauper Lunatic Asylum”.

Staffordshire General Lunatic Asylum

Staffordshire General Lunatic Asylum opened on a 40-acre site to the north east of Stafford town centre on 1.10.1818.

The original building was designed by the County Surveyor, Joseph Potter.

It was enlarged in 1849-1850.

When Coton Hill Asylum opened in 1854 for private paying patients, the Stafford County Asylum only took ‘pauper lunatics’. The hospital was transferred to the National Health Service in 1948 and renamed St George’s Hospital.

The doors finally closed in 1995

St Edwards Boys Home

Father George Vincent Hudson, founded Father Hudson’s Society, from a lowly beginning, this man sowed the seeds of a Great Midland’s Charity, which still flourishes today. He is remembered for his vision and humanity and as a man who gave his life to the care of many thousands of children in desperate need. With the growth of the factory system and the exploitation of child labour, Father Hudson feared for the children who found themselves destitute through no fault of their own, helpless, friendless and powerless. The Birmingham Diocesan Rescue Society was formally set up in 1902. Father Hudsons devotion to the children and his patience and energy guided its development, so the society became colloquially known as Father Hudson’s Homes. Father Hudson remained at Coleshill from 1898 to 1934. A network of ‘agents’ were set-up throughout the diocese to report on any cases that arose for referral to “The Homes” but in 1998 the priest in charge of the school was convicted of 18 cases of child abuse and jailed for seven years. where he was to die after serving just three years of his sentence. May be as a result of this, all the homes had closed as residential homes for children.

Sleaford Bass Maltings

The site was purchased by Bass Ratcliff & Greeton Ltd in 1901, and building commenced to the design of Mr H A Couchman, an architect responsible for previous Bass projects.

Construction spanned six years, starting with the engine house and associated buildings, and finishing with the smaller ancillary buildings such as the manager’s cottages, dining halls, and the administrative offices, the Maltings cost around £350,000 to complete. Its eight massive malt houses, central water tower, and tall chimney dominate the skyline.

The malt production finally ceased in 1959.

In 1973 the Sleaford Bass Maltings were purchased by a local firm, GW Padley (Property) Ltd who utilised it for chicken rearing and vegetable processing, but the chicken rearing came to end during the 1990’s.

Considered to be of special architectural and historical interest, the Sleaford Bass Maltings were to become Grade II listed in 1974.

Sheffield Old Town Hall

The original bulding was built in 1807 by Charles Watson to replace the first town hall that had little scope for extension.

The hall housed the Town Trustees and the Quarter and Petty Sessions, it was a five bay structure opening out onto Castle Street.

In 1833 and 1866 it underwent extensions by William Flockton and included a clock tower that was built over the new main entrance which orientated the entrance onto Waingate, at this time, the courtrooms were linked by underground passages to the police station.

The building underwent a further extension in 1896-97, by the renamed Flockton, Gibbs & Flockton, and became Sheffield Crown Court and Sheffield High Court. In the 1990s, these courts moved to new premises, and since at least 1997 the building has been left unused.

In 2007, it was named by the Victorian Society as one of their top ten buildings most at-risk.

Rutland Cutlery

Rutland cutlery, who was part of the Osbourne Tableware Group, was a blade grinding and polishing company located in Sheffield south Yorkshire.

It was due to celebrate 300 years of trading in late 2009 but was unexpectedly put into receivership in January 2009.

Six months earlier it was acquired by two local businessmen who had ambitious plans to put the company (better known as Nickel Blanks) back on its feet bringing all of its five subsidiaries together under one roof at Meadowhall Sheffield.

The site you see here was the Rutland Cutlery side of the group.

Rockwood Pigments

The point of note for this site is that the entrance to ‘Side Mine’ is located within the grounds. The Side Mine was opened as a show cavern between 1825-1845. The mining finished when the owner gave up his attempt to drain the workings of water.

The site that the colour works sits on, is composed of mine waste from the Side Mine, the owner erected a water wheel of 80hp, capable of raising 1000 gals per hour, this was then used to grind barytes for the paint industry, just as the industry was demanding a cheap alternative to white lead.

Redmires Water Treatment Plant

Built in 1950, the original water treatment plant supplied water to the south western outer reaches of Sheffield, through Ringinglow and Rud Hill service reservoirs.

It consisted of 7 horizontal pressure filters, capable of an average output of 16,000 cubic metres a day, with a maximum of 18,400 cubic metres a day.

In 1983 a 15,000 cubic metre clear water tank was added.

In 1986 the water was found to contain excessive iron and aluminium levels and by April 1988 a new Sirofloc process was in operation, it was the first of its kind outside of Australia. The new plant represented a major advancement in the development of a new type of treatment process for drinking water.

Record Marples

The earliest recorded (so far) mention of ‘Marples’ is about the 1540’s, in Baslow, Derbyshire.

There the family stayed until about 1750, when they moved to Sheffield.

The years 1772 & 1774 saw the birth of two sons, William & Robert, both of whom were listed as Joiners tool makers. William’s son, William (b. 1809) was most likely the founder of the firm William Marples & Sons (also joined by George Marples), later becoming Record Marples. The other son Robert (b. 1801), produced the first of the long line of Joseph Marples (b. 1801). This Joseph being the founder of our company in 1840. During this period there were no less than seven Marples’ companies operating out of Sheffield, all somehow being related.

RAF Upwood

RAF Upwood opened as an airfield in 1917 by the Royal Flying Corps. Originally used as a night-landing ground, by 1918 five hangars had been built and the centre became a training station.

At the end of World War I the airfield was cleared but in 1934 RAF Upwood was reactivated and expanded to deal with the increasing threat posed by the German Luftwaffe. The new base became operational in February 1937, housing two flying units. These original squadrons were reassigned in 1939 and replaced by No.90 and No.35 Squadron. Neither squadron saw combat and they were merged as No.17 Training Unit. When this unit departed Upwood in 1943, the grassed runways were replaced with three concrete runways. The base re-opened in October 1943 and between 1944 and 1945 was used by No.139 and No.156 Squadrons.Their Mosquitos and Lancasters saw action in Germany, dropping target indicators over Berlin and bombing Stuttgart. The base housed several bomber units during the 1940’s and 1950’s, some of which took part in the Suez crisis.

In 1961 Upwood was transferred to RAF Strike Command and by 1981 the base was almost dormant. Control was passed to the United States Air Force and Upwood became a satellite base of RAF Alconbury, providing housing and support for personnel. In 1986 a multi-million dollar medical facility was opened, delivering outpatient services to American military members in the area. The end of the Cold War saw a phased rundown of RAF Alconbury and in 2005 the last USAF family moved out of the Upwood housing area.

As of 2009 there are plans to regenerate the area into housing and light industry.

RAF Driffield

The first aerodrome to occupy the site was made up of wooden and brick buildings, known as Eastburn, No.21 Training Depot was the first unit to occupy the site from July 15, 1918, joined later by Nos. 202 and 217 Squadrons from March 1919. However, by early 1920, these units had disbanded, leaving a deserted airfield, which was removed some years later.

During the early 1930’s, Driffield was selected for one of the RAF’s expansion scheme aerodromes, with construction work beginning in 1935. This new airfield consisted of five large aircraft hangars, curved round the grass runways. Placed neatly behind these hangars were the many buildings that made up the camp. Opened in July 1936, RAF Driffield became home to a number of bomber squadrons. By 1938, these had been replaced by No.77 and No.102 Squadrons, and were eventually equipped with the twin-engine Armstrong Whitworth Whitley bomber.

At the outbreak of WW2 the No102 squadron dropped parcels of propaganda leaflets over France and the following night No 77 squadron did the same. March 1940 saw No 77 squadron drop some 6 million leaflets over Warsaw. August 1940 saw an attack by 50 Junkers Ju 88 Bombers which caused extensive damage and 13 deaths. The aerodrome was closed for repairs until early 1941 when fighters replaced the bombers, then late 1941 the bombers returned.

In 1943 the site was closed again this time for the construction of 3 concrete runways then reopened with bombers. In 1977 the airfield and camp was taken over by the British Army who renamed it Alamein Barracks and used as an Army driving school. By the early 1980s, the control tower and air-raid shelters disappeared, while the hangars that protected aircraft for many years were converted to protect Government surplus grain from the elements. In 1992, the RAF regained ownership of this historic aerodrome, naming it: RAF Staxton Wold-Driffield Site. Once again, the RAF ensign flew over Driffield, but not for long.

In 1996, the RAF itself transferred its own personnel and facilities to RAF Staxton Wold, thus bringing an end to 60 years of service. On June 28, 1996, the RAF ensign was lowered for the last time, bringing to an end RAF Driffield.

Pye Bank County School

Following the 1870 Education Act, the newly elected Sheffield School Board constructed 39 new schools in the city. Pye Bank School being one of them, designed by the architects Innocent and Brown and constructed in the ‘english domestic gothic’ style it was opened in 1875.

The Sheffield schools are regarded as the best surviving collection of ‘Board Schools’ outside London.

In 2003 the school was moved to a new building that was built on the former St Catherine’s RC Primary School site.

All of Innocent’s surviving Sheffield schools are Grade II Listed Buildings, however today, a significant proportion of these Victorian structures are being replaced by a brand new school building programme.

Pye Bank School stands in a prominent position on the hillside with great views across the city and there are plans to convert it into apartments.

Millbrook Goods Yard

In 1932, a private railway siding was added on a loop of the LNWR Line at Millbrook, known as the Micklehurst Loop to serve Hartshead Power Station in order to facilitate the handling of coal.

The sidings were capable of holding some 130, 10 -12 ton wagons with provision for 100 full and 30 empty. A fireless steam locomotive, which is charged with steam through a pipeline at a pressure of 200 psi, was used for shunting purposes and the locomotive could travel 9 miles with one charge.

There were two 20 wagon tippers, and modern automatic weighbridges, meaning incorrect weighing of coal was impossible.

The coal was fed into an underground hopper before being transported by an underground conveyor to an overhead enclosed conveyor which ran over the River Tame and Huddersfield Canal to the power station.

The loop closed in 1968 but the sidings continued in use until 1975 when Hartshead power station finally closed.

Melton War Memorial

Originally called Hill House and built pre 1760 by a Mr Hind.

In 1840 Colonel Charles Wyndham moved into the house and renamed it Wyndham Lodge.

In 1870, A Mr. William Chaplin purchased the house and preferring the location to that of the house, he had the house totally rebuilt in 1874, out of Wartnaby stone by a Mr R. Winter Johnson.

In 1920, Colonel Richard Dalgliesh of Asfordby bought the house and 15 acres of woodland and donated it as a gift to the town to become the War Memorial Hospital. It was opened by HRH Prince Henry on the 19th January 1922.

In 1948, the hospital was taken into the National Health Service.