Bradshaw Bleachworks, Bolton

Date visited: 1989/1990

Very early Urban Exploration! Bradshaw Works was a large bleachworks in the Bradshaw area of Bolton, dating back to the 1830’s, although bleaching is believed to have taken had taken place on the site from the 1780’s. It was built in the grounds of Bradshaw Hall, a 17th Century Manor House, that was demolished in 1950, save for the entrance porch which survives to this day. It was rebuilt in the early 1990’s after the demolition of the works chimney went wrong and flattened it.

Information from Turton Local History Society Publication 'Bradshaw Works', by James Francis:

The works employed around 700 people before WW2, but afterwards, the textile industry was subject to heavy rationalisation as it came under pressure form imports from the east. By 1955, employment was down to 300 people. One thing which did surprise, shock me even was the length of service of some of the people who were awarded long service certificates in 1949 and 1950 – anything up to 64 years service! These men (and they were all men) would have started as half timers before they were 14, and worked well into their 70’s, unthinkable in this day and age.

Continued rationalization in the 1960’s saw continued investment, with new buildings being built, but in 1963 the works closed, just weeks after the new buildings were opened. For the next 30 or so years the buildings were occupied by a number of businesses including Coleman Milne Limousines and Markland Scowcroft Steel Stockholders. Eventually as the larger businesses moved out, smaller ones filled their place, but the place was in a state of terminal decay, as most of the buildings were 100-150 years old. Finally, in the late 1980’s, with the housing market booming, particularly in the prosperous north Bolton suburbs, the site was sold for housing and completely cleared. There were plans to convert at least one of the large 3 storey buildings to apartments, but they were in such a perilous state that they had to be demolished although, an apartment block vaguely in the style of the originals was built. The rest of the housing, although of modern design and construction is faced with stone from the demolished buildings and the development is known as ‘Bradshaw Hall’.

I grew up about 5 minutes from the works, and often spent time wandering around wondering about what they were like in their heyday. I took these pictures in 1989/1990 for my GCSE geography project, just as demolition was starting, I regret not taking more, and the only other photographs I've found online were taken in 1983 and are in the Bolton Museums collection which I've linked below: