Brook Dyeing, Meltham

Date Visited: August 2007

I received a call from another explorer with a fondness for old mills saying he’d found an old waterwheel pit in a derelict dyeworks. It wasn’t something I’d seen before, so I drove over to Meltham for a look.

Bleachworks and dyeworks are largely devoid of architectural merit and tend just to be large brick or stone sheds. Although the buildings here were largely intact, they were for the most part stripped out. I’ve not found much history of the place, it presumably had a quiet existence on the corner of the town until it closed in about 1999. It sat empty, slowly succumbing to vandals and the elements, with several roof collapses around the site – a seemingly common occurrence in derelict bleach and dyeworks.

The enormous water wheel pit was an interesting curiosity and would probably date from the first half / middle of the 19th Century. Despite being about 60-70 feet in diameter, it wasn’t the easiest thing to photograph – access was through a small hatch barely big enough to fit my upper body through and a small ledge was barely big enough to fit a small tripod on. Holding onto the tripod so that it didn’t slide off into the hole, I contorted my body through the hatch, guessed the composition and managed to get fire off six exposures before pain cut in and I retreated. One exposure of the six was in focus which was good enough for me.