Booth Engineering Metal Treatment works, Bolton...
It's wonderful what you can find on a shopping trip to Waterstones book store on a Sunday afternoon! We wandered back to where we had parked our car not far from Bolton's iconic Church of Saint Peter down on the bottom of Church Gate, and then TJ spotted a derelict factory through the fence, sitting just the other side of a brook. We couldn't resist the temptation to have a look and soon we were wandered about inside, shopping bags in hand, dressed totally inappropriately in trainers and decent clothes, snapping what remains of the factory on an iPhone!
Subsequent research has thrown up a little bit of history for the place.
Founded in 1873, the original name of the company was John Booth and Sons. They had several changes of name over the years and they are now known as Booth Industries, which is part of the Redhall group of companies. At some point in the past this particular engineering works was abandoned but the company still has a large presence in Bolton with four construction and testing facilities and offices totalling 8650 square meters. The company now specialises in the manufacture of fire doors, blast doors and modular wall systems, and they also carry out testing work. Their customers include BP, Exxon, Shell, Costain, Glaxo and HM Prisons. During the Second World War, amongst other things they manufactured steel radar towers and Bailey Bridges, and in 1958 they manufactured the building steelwork for Rolls Royce's new high altitude engine plant.
We found a lovely anecdote from the war related by one of the company's employees who was also a home guard. It was normal practise to mark a steel plate "Csk. T. S." which meant "countersink this side". A young apprentice turned his plate over and began countersinking all the pre-drilled holes in the plate on the back side. When the foreman spotted this he went ballistic at the youngster and demanded to know why he was countersinking the wrong side of the plate. The youngster replied that he though T.S meant "T'other side"!
The factory appears to have been owned by a different company circa 1890, one Jackson Brothers, and it was then known as Wharf Foundry. Some other old photographs we have found indicate that it was possibly also a bleach works, either before, during (by way of diversification) or after, we are not at all sure! Who bought who, and when, is also a blank, and to cap it all we are not sure exactly when the building was finally abandoned and left to rot! I can certainly remember it being a going concern when I was studying ( ? ) at Bolton Technical College in the mid 1970s as I used to regularly visit Booth's Music just up the street, and drink the most filthy looking cider you ever saw in the nearby Man and Scythe pub at 12 pence a pint! Oh happy daze...
Below are a series of six photographs taken in the Victorian era of the factory before it was taken over by Booth Engineering...
Dereliction at the factory is quite far advanced - there is very little of the roof left now and almost all the equipment within the building is long gone, the few exceptions being the odd chain hoist and a couple of what looked like enormous shipping containers, though clearly that was not what they were because they would not go on any wagon on the road today! Roof timbers litter the floor and through the gaps one may catch a glimpse of the imposing church tower from almost anywhere in the building. Our day was lovely and sunny, which considering we are in the middle of the English monsoon season (June) was very much a bonus.