Vernon Carus, Preston

Date Visited: April 2007

Penwortham Mills, just to the south of Preston, Lancashire, was home to Vernon-Carus since 1915. It was a major manufacturer of surgical lint, which was the first surgical dressing to be commercially manufactured in the UK. When it was founded, Lancashire was the world’s centre for weaving and fabric production.

The mills were closed in 2006 after the company relocated to brand new premises on the Matrix Business Park near Leyland.

The mill was in good condition having been vacated for only a year or so, but had suffered some vandalism from local kids. This resulted in a security guard being posted in the old security lodge and after having been tipped off by another local explorer that he was a sound chap, I made the short trip over, had a word, and he let me in. Most of the equipment had been removed, and the remaining stuff was inaccessible at the time of my visit, so the place was pretty much empty and devoid of interest. But it still felt fresh, like it was just waiting for people to come back after a holiday and start work again. There was still evidence of its recent past - photographs from a Christmas do on a notice board, a pair of shoes in the fitters shop, and so on.

It went downhill from here. The site was sold and the developers removed the security, presumably in a bid to cut costs as they sat out the slump in the property market. Meanwhile, the vandals quickly returned and the decay really began to set in. The offices and single storey sheds were demolished, and the shell of the mill building was left while the developers drew up their plans and applied for planning permission to completely clear the site.

Pictures are included in my Shadows of The North book