Standing a staggering 76m tall, it towers over the neighborhood and can be seen across Bradford as a visible reminder of the city’s proud industrial past.
In the Manningham district, Lister’s Mill is a well-known site in the city. Manningham itself is a historic district that grew to be home to industrial workers and with a population of 20,000, the area was once one of many sites of booming factories in the city.
The region has a rich industrial history, which is not limited to the Industrial Revolution. The area had a number of wool merchants and is home to several monuments that are living monuments to a thriving industry that has largely disappeared.
The Manningham Mills were a beacon of industry, they were visible for miles and for many generations the mills had symbolized the town. As was the case with most towns and cities dependent on the boom of the Industrial Revolution, most of Manningham’s factories have since been destroyed, removed or converted into modern apartments – but some remain.
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Lister Mills, otherwise known as Manningham Mills, was the largest silk factory in the world. Located in the Manningham district, the mill was built by Samuel Cunliffe Lister to replace the original mill destroyed by fire in 1871.
At the height of its industrial prowess, Lister’s employed 11,000 men, women and children, all of whom contributed to the city’s rich textile production. The mill has produced some truly historic materials over the years, including 1,000 yards (910 m) of velvet for the coronation of King George V.
During World War II, the factory produced 1,330 miles of parachute silk, 284 miles of flame retardant wool, 50 miles of khaki mesh, and 4,430 miles of parachute cord. In 1976 the factory produced velvet curtains for President Gerald Ford at the White House. But like any factory or industrial workplace, it was nothing without its workers.
Factory workers took part in a strike in 1890 and 1891 that would form the foundations of our modern Labor Party. The Independent Labor Party was a left-wing political group formed in 1893 at a conference in Bradford.
The party was created to back working-class candidates after liberal groups seemed reluctant to do so. The Independent Labor Group became the modern party we know today, founded in 1900.
Lister’s Chimney is 76 meters tall and can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. At the time it cost around £10,000 to build, which adjusted for inflation today would be well over £1.1 million. It weighed around 8,000 tons and was called “Lister’s Pride” by its architect. Until electricity became a widely available energy source in 1934, the factory was powered by huge steam boilers.
Each boiler required 1,000 tons of coal brought in from nearby Pontefract, and the water had to be stored in a supply network created specifically for the plant.
However, as heavy industry began to falter in the UK, the factory faced decline. Business was declining at a rapid rate in the 1980s due to foreign competition and changing trends.
Over the years there have been several proposals to regenerate the mill, but due to the size of the building this has proven difficult. But Bradford residents, including former workers, came to the aid of the factory and campaigned to save it.
In the year 2000 it was purchased and renovated, which required the disposal of industrial waste. The project was partly funded by Bradford Council, Yorkshire Forward and English Heritage. The mill now houses hundreds of apartments as well as a plaza surrounding the structure. The project cost a total of £100million, but the mill still stands and is a great reminder of Manningham’s incredibly rich history.