The Wild West of Hipperholme

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This is the site of the Allen Fireclay Works. Situated in the Walterclough Valley, the original Halifax Glazed Brickworks was converted by Henry Victor Allen in 1905 to manufacture refractory bricks (glazed bricks able to withstand high temperatures, generally used to line kilns, furnaces and fireplaces etc). They became world-famous. It became a plastics factory in the 1960s before falling into ruin following some suspicious fires and then bankruptcy. Even as recently as ten years ago, photographs on Urbex sites show offices with files on the shelves.

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Wandering around this space was weirdly mesmerising and much of that was to do with the art, virtually every single surface now colonised by spray paint. This is a hangout for the ghosts of the past and the disenchanted and disenfranchised of the present. There’s a conversation going on here, not whispered but shouted, in bold colour. What’s being said? I have no idea. This is a language I don’t understand, using a grammar I don’t understand. Like coming across any foreign language, I was drawn to want to understand. Or perhaps I’m just a romantic with a penchant for dereliction.

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I imagine it’s rare for such a site to have no barrier to entry. The current owners seem to be encouraging its further dereliction as they seek approval—against considerable local opposition—to develop this land. Proposals for housing and a care home have been turned down. I can understand why. This is a wild place in both a natural and an urban sense. How is it possible to preserve the edgy balance between man and nature that is found here? The Wild West of Hipperholme.

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One comment

  1. […] At the far end of the Upper Lake, the footpath skirts the edge of the former Allen Fireclay Works. Situated in the Walterclough Valley, the original Halifax Glazed Brickworks was converted by Henry Victor Allen in 1905 to manufacture refractory bricks (glazed bricks able to withstand high temperatures, generally used to line kilns, furnaces and fireplaces etc). They became world-famous. Initially, horses took the bricks up to Hipperholme Station, until in 1919 a tramway was installed, powered by a steam-powered endless belt. It became a plastics factory before falling into ruin following some suspicious fires and then bankruptcy. The site is currently owned by a development company, failing at a number of attempts to get planning permission to build housing. As a result, there is free rein for vandals and graffiti artists alike. There’s a feeling of the Wild West about the place. More photos in a separate piece here. […]

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