By Alex Jones
AN URBAN explorer RISKED THEIR LIFE taking pictures of this derelict British factory that once manufactured Russian submarine parts in WWII.
Remarkable photos of W.H Shaw’s pallet works, which was reputedly one of the largest factories of its type in the world until its eventual closure in 2006, show the site’s eye-catching grade II listed Gothic clock tower; a rare perspective of the factory’s shattered glass roof; and an old work space, still littered with engineering knickknacks.
Located in Diggle, an old mining town in Yorkshire, parts of the 22-acre site date back as far as 1860 when it was known as The Dobcross Loom Works. Dobcross Looms, an old-fashioned mechanism for producing cloths and fabrics, can still be found across the world. Urban explorer FreakyD recently investigated the site as it may soon be torn down to build a new area school.
Once a thriving workplace with a rich heritage, the echoes of industry have long since faded FreakyD found. Similarly, the property’s structural integrity had also diminished – causing the daredevil photographer to take their life into their own hands.
“The site is largely industrial but with an old clock tower office building joined via a metal bridge,” he explained.
“The clock tower is a beautiful grade II listed building sitting quietly as the foliage grows around it. The site feels very quiet and has little feeling left after being such an active, thriving factory in its day.
“Being an old industrial site, everything is built sturdily and over-engineered to a degree but even so, collapsing ceilings and rotting floors mean you need to watch where you are stepping and keep your eyes open to your surroundings.
“The large metal bridge is one section where I wasn’t fully sure whether I could trust the building, spanning such a length with no obvious elements holding it up.
“We coined it the ‘Death bridge’ as we gingerly passed through the tunnel but obviously lived to tell the tale.”
During the Great War, the factory doubled up as a munitions factory to assist with the war effort and also helped create parts for Russian submarines during the second world war to help counter the U-boat threat.
The loom works themselves closed around 1967 and was taken over shortly afterwards by W. H. Shaw, pallet manufacturers. It closed after they went into administration in 2006 after nearly 40 decades, resulting in the loss of many local jobs.
FreakyD was disappointed to see the former works fall into disrepair.
“With such a rich history of engineering achievements in the region, it is a shame to see these buildings fall to ruin and become forgotten,” said the photographer.
“I always enjoy engineering sites having an active interest myself. Being brought up around hard-working, old-fashioned engineers I love to imagine the life that used to be at locations like these.
“The site is filled with reminders to its industrial past with large machinery and engineering tools littering the open floor space. One place this is most evident is in the engineering stores with time sheets up on the walls and small drawers holding nuts and bolts – it is easy to imagine life working inside this factory.”
The urban explorer felt it was important to share the history of notable sites before they are razed to the ground and completely forgotten.
“Urban exploration gives me a chance to see what most people don’t, to capture a snapshot of the past forgotten over time,” said FreakyD.
“Within the Urban Exploration community everyone seems to have different rules about sharing pictures, but why take pictures for no one to see?”
The old loom/pallet works is earmarked for demolition in the near future to make way for a controversial new £19million Saddleworth School development.