Wigan cotton mill on Top Ten Endangered Buildings list

Rylands Mill which has been lying derelict since the early 2000s now needs a new owner to secure its future

Rylands Mill, Wigan, Greater Manchester (Grade II, 1865, George Woodhouse)

National architectural charity, the The Victorian Society, has included three Lancashire & Greater Manchester buildings on its 2016 list of the Top Ten Endangered in England and Wales. For the first time there are no buildings in London and the South East on the list – where the Society had comparatively few nominations. The Society considers that the greater number of buildings nominated from elsewhere may reflect the more difficult development situation outside the South East. Griff Rhys Jones, The Victorian Society Vice President, has urged people living near the buildings on the list to ‘seize the opportunity’ and campaign to save them.

A former cotton mill with integral boiler, chimney, weaving sheds, own private railway and collieries – the mill reportedly held 60,000 spindles and 1,500 looms. The building was last occupied by Wigan and Leigh College but has lain derelict since the early 2000s. Although designed to be fireproof, the mill has suffered regular fires in recent months, resulting in the demolition of a 20th century extension. Locals remain concerned about the lack of vision for the site where children risk their lives trespassing. Ideally located next to a public park, the mill is currently for sale £2,500,000. The owners must be certain that a sale at this price is possible and, in the meantime, properly secure the site before someone is seriously hurt.

The national exposure from inclusion in the Society’s Top Ten often leads to new interest in the buildings which can help save them. Full details of all the buildings in the 2016 Top Ten, and updates on positive developments for last year’s buildings, can be found here.

The Victorian Society Director, Christopher Costelloe, said: ‘Lancashire and the north west has more buildings on our Top Ten than anywhere else in the country. But for the first time we have no entries for London or the South East. We simply got far more nominations from areas like Lancashire. This perhaps reflects the vastly different financial climate for development. But whatever the reason, I hope inclusion in the Top Ten will spur local authorities and owners to urgently find a way to bring these buildings back into use. At a time when there has been much discussion of creating a northern power house this is more important than ever. Retaining historic buildings like those in the Top Ten is vital to maintaining local identity and creating places in which people want to invest, live and work.’

Griff Rhys Jones, The Victorian Society Vice President, said: ‘The nationally important buildings on the The Victorian Society’s Top Ten list are in dire need of help. Many of them are in prominent locations in their towns and cities. Following my experience with the Hackney Empire I know how difficult finding funding can be – especially outside London. However, restoring important historic buildings is worth investing in as it can be a catalyst for wider regeneration. I hope people living near these buildings will seize this opportunity and campaign to save them. Ultimately, it is the support of local people which will ensure that they are not lost forever.’

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