DEMOLITION work is under way on a mill that has been labelled an ‘eyesore, landmark and potential death-trap’.

Howe Bridge Number Three Mill has stood in the centre of Atherton for 124 years but has been empty and derelict for a year-and-a-half.

Last week work began to demolish the building and the adjoining Number Six Mill – added in 1919 as part of a plan to redevelop the site into a housing estate.

Shahram Sakhdari, head of development at Realty Estates, which owns the site, said: “The demolition was originally approved as part of a supermarket’s plan to build a store there but that fell through and now there is a plan to build up to 135 houses on the site. That may change though as another planning application will need to be submitted by the housing company.”

The demolition was rumoured to have been delayed due to fears that there was asbestos in the building but Mr Sakhdari said: “The delay was not a delay from our point of view. One of the planning conditions was that the building needed to be documented because of its heritage.

Because of that demolition did not start as early as expected but it was not a delay.”

The mills are the last of the six to be demolished, the first having been built in 1865 and the last in 1919 by Fletcher Burrows, a coal mining company.

Howe Bridge Spinning Co Ltd became the largest cotton spinning complex in Atherton but it was closed as a textile factory in 1999, by which time the two tall chimneys and at least two of the mills had been demolished.

Police are warning people to stay away from the site after several incidents where children have broken into the derelict building.

Facts about the mill courtesy of amateur historian John Burlison:

  • It took just one year to build Number Three Mill
  • The engine that powered the entire mill ran for 70 years virtually unaltered
  • A fire at the mill on November 11, 1965, destroyed 800 pounds of cotton
  • The mill was taken over by Combined Egyptian Mills Ltd in 1929 before the name was changed to Combined English Mills (Spinners Ltd) in 1953
  • The mill was brought by Carrington Viyella in the late 1960s
  • It was built to hold 100,000 spindles
  • The mill had to close in 1914 because of the shortage of coal during the First World War