Here is a guest article of the Broadford Works in Aberdeen written by Hal Wyatt.
These are photographs from a recent project I went through covering the Broadford Works in Aberdeen.
My first trip was towards the beginning of this year for a college project. I had heard stories about the place and seen photographs from it before but it’s the kind of place that you really have to experience to really get an idea of the history and story behind It. For the project I had to research the history of the building and then try and tell a story through the images that I produced, so using HDR as a technique for the images I was able to create photographs that showed the detail while not blowing it out with flash.
It was a fun trip and I even met a couple of other people, one looking for a gay calender shoot location and the other doing a fashion shoot. Just shows that despite being abandoned there is still so much that is happening within the walls. Currently the site has plans to be turned into an urban village, but development is slow so there is not telling when construction is going to be begin.
Founded more than 200 years ago, Richards operated what was to become the oldest iron-frame mill in Scotland and the last remaining textile mill in the ‘Granite City’. It was also one of the principal employers with more than 3,000 people working in the mill at its height in the early 20th century.
Richards of Aberdeen became a public limited company in 1898. With the decline in traditional flax spinning activities, in the mid-1960s the company embarked upon a programme of development of synthetic yarn ranges which it maintained with few changes until the dawn of the 21st century.
The company was purchased by millionaire Ian Suttie, chief executive of First Oil, in 2002 after facing receivership. In 2003 the company moved its headquarters to the outskirts of Aberdeen, with assistance from Aberdeen City Council.
Fifty-two job losses were announced at the start of November 2004, despite the employment of 80 new staff in May of that year. Soon the entire remaining workforce of 196 was made redundant. Many had been at the mill for their entire working lives. Workers were angered not only by news of the closure itself but by the way they discovered what had happened: payments simply stopped arriving in their bank accounts. Another indicator came when supplies ceased to arrive at the site. Aside from global economic conditions, one of the main factors causing the closure was the company pension scheme which by November 2004 faced a shortfall of £5m.
The mill is currently under consideration for possible conversion into an ‘urban village’ of 398 homes, many of which would be in historical listed buildings which require careful planning considerations before any work can commence. As of 17 August 2007, the Council remains undecided on the matter.