Crumbling Eckersley Mill

There are two prominent mills that tend to dominate the skyline as you walk on the canal in the centre of Wigan, the refurbished Trencherfield Mill and the crumbling, decaying Eckersley Mill. These few words will focus on the latter, in the hope of a revival and return to its magnificent past.

The Mill is built of red brick and stands casting a shadow down towards the canal and Wigan Pier.

Let's start with some detail on the name - it's always referred to as Eckersley Mill but in fact, the complex is a group of three mills called Western Mills that were designed and built around 1884 for Eckersley's. The distinctive red bricks and large windows made sure they stood out.

Most of the windows are boarded up these days, but some are open around the back where the deterioration is most evident. However, even in this state, the quality of the architecture and construction shine through.

In their prime, the mills contained near 1700 spinning looms which must have been a simply amazing sight to see when they were in full production.

The mills each had chimneys, some of which survive to this day and the brickwork in lots of places still seems like it is brand new - but of course, a closer inspection would reveal otherwise I am sure.

The mills were a complicated connection of buildings, warehouse and chimneys all with different uses and often different constructions. Much of the mill hasn't seen a kind hand for decades, hence the trees that grow amongst the masonry.

I often think that the mills and their surroundings here would make a superb film set, lots of gritty northern-ness on show and lots to work with. The brickwork and the sandstone is crumbling but the heart and soul of the place remains.

Whether what is left of the Western Mills will ever return to its past glories, only time will tell - it would need a huge investment to secure the properties in the first place and then even more to refurbish them.

Let's hope this historical building stays in the town of Wigan and is put to some useful purpose in the years to come. For now, it remains a run-down reminder of the towns industrial past.

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