Robert Fletcher & Sons Paper Mill, Oldham, UK

Robert Fletcher’s and Son’s was a paper mill in Oldham. The mill closed down over night 13 years ago and everything has been left how it was.

Robert Fletchers Paper Mill, Oldham
 

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History of the abandoned Fletcher’s Paper Mill

The history of Robert Fletcher & sons paper mill dates back to the industrial revolution. The company was once owned by Ralph Crompton and Nephews, producers and bleachers of paper. Their first mill was located in Stoneclough, Manchester.

The death of the Crompton brothers left the mill ownerless and the succession was offered to Robert Fletcher, the mill’s manager at the time. Fletcher had risen through the ranks, to first become the manager of the bleaching department and later the whole mill. 1

Following Fletcher’s death on 17th May 1865, his sons John and James took over. They in turn passed down the mill to their sons, also named John and James. In 1897 the mill was incorporated as a limited company.

In 1921 a second mill opened, located at Greenfield, near Oldham. The mill specialised in the production of cigarette paper and at its height employed 1000 people to run seven paper machines. These machines produced only a fraction of the paper the later, much larger machines could produce. Upon closure the mill had three machines – two very similar lines from 19XX and a huge modern 1996 addition. 2

By 1986 the company was making a loss and was purchased by the Melton Medes Conglomerate who turned the company around and started to make a profit once again. However by 2001 the company was once again failing and the decision was made to close the Stoneclough Mill. Some people were transferred to the Greenfield mill, but the company could not sustain the increasing loses and was forced into receivership. The mill was closed down overnight.

The mill at Stoneclough has been demolished. To this day the mill at Greenfield still remains how it was the day it closed. Streams of paper remain inside the machines, connected to the rolls of finished product at the end of the production lines – a time capsule from a bygone era.

Our Visit
I really enjoyed this visit, in the company of Proj3ct M4yh3m and Kriegaffe9. Thirteen years of decay have created a lovely atmosphere for photographing, while the place has suffered very little damage.

I found the mill fascinating to look around, seeing how things worked. Our route through the buildings took us pretty much along the production process from start to finish. We started at the very beginning where the wood-fibre arrives at site and is mashed up to create wood-pulp, through to the production lines, and finally to the cutting and packaging area.

The offices and medical rooms, although not great to photograph, were very interesting to look at. Photos of the workers, plans of machines and even medical records of the staff are still there, filed away or strewn across desks.

 

Paper starts off as wood pulp – the raw material

Fletchers Paper Mill - Wood pulp bails

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Wood pulp bails

Fletchers Paper Mill - Pulp is fed into machines

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Pulp is fed into machines

Fletchers Paper Mill - Pulp is then distributed

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Pulp is then distributed

Fletchers Paper Mill - Machines mash up and bleach the pulp

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Machines mash up and bleach the pulp

Fletchers Paper Mill - Pulp mashing machine

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Pulp mashing machine

Fletchers Paper Mill - Pulp masher

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Pulp masher

Fletchers Paper Mill - Machines

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Machines

Fletchers Paper Mill - Machines for processing wood pulp

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Machines for processing wood pulp

Fletchers Paper Mill - Office area rotting away

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Office area rotting away

Fletchers Paper Mill - Laboratory

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Laboratory

Fletchers Paper Mill - Laboratory

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Laboratory

Rolling machines

Fletchers Paper Mill - One of the large rolling machines

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Fletchers Paper Mill – One of the large rolling machines

Fletchers Paper Mill - Part of the rolling machines

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Part of the rolling machines

Fletchers Paper Mill - Rolling machine

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Rolling machine

Fletchers Paper Mill - Rolling machine

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Rolling machine

Fletchers Paper Mill - Large roller drum at the top of the machine

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Large roller drum at the top of the machine

Fletchers Paper Mill - Side view

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Side view

Fletchers Paper Mill - Top view

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Top view

Fletchers Paper Mill - Rollers from the front

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Rollers from the front

Fletchers Paper Mill - Top of rollers

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Top of rollers

Fletchers Paper Mill - Pressure guages

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Pressure guages

Fletchers Paper Mill - Controls

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Controls

Fletchers Paper Mill - Computer control

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Computer control

Fletchers Paper Mill - Roller and small control panel

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Roller and small control panel

Spooling Machines

Fletchers Paper Mill - The finished paper is put onto rolls

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Fletchers Paper Mill – The finished paper is put onto rolls

Fletchers Paper Mill - Finishing department

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Finishing department

Fletchers Paper Mill - Machine in finishing department

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Machine in finishing department

Fletchers Paper Mill - The finished product, rolls of paper

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Fletchers Paper Mill – The finished product, rolls of paper

Fletchers Paper Mill - Roller and cutter

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Roller and cutter

Fletchers Paper Mill - Packing Office

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Packing Office

Offices and Staff Areas

Fletchers Paper Mill - Staff canteen

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Staff canteen

Fletchers Paper Mill - Cluttered office

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Cluttered office

Fletchers Paper Mill - Photos in a drawer of a computer desk

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Photos in a drawer of a computer desk

Fletchers Paper Mill - Design room

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Design room

Fletchers Paper Mill - Blueprints

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Blueprints

Newer machine room

Fletchers Paper Mill - A large milling machine was added more recently

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Fletchers Paper Mill – A large milling machine was added more recently

Fletchers Paper Mill - New rollers

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Fletchers Paper Mill – New rollers

Fletchers Paper Mill - Guages

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Guages

Fletchers Paper Mill - Larger more modern machinery

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Larger more modern machinery

Fletchers Paper Mill - Control station

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Control station

Fletchers Paper Mill - Giant roll of cigarette paper

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Giant roll of cigarette paper

Fletchers Paper Mill - Control machines

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Control machines

Fletchers Paper Mill - Rollers

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Fletchers Paper Mill – Rollers

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