Industrial Landscapes

These Industrial Landscape paintings reflect buildings which are past their prime some are in London but most are in Manchester and Middleton. Some of them have been demolished and exist only in memory. Like the Times Mill which dominated my childhood walks to school. Industrial landscapes are harsh and unforgiving but there is a raw kind of beauty about them.

Looming over me as a small child the mill buildings were terrifying, permanent structures. Particularly the chimneys which I was convinced were falling over even though they never did. I love the uniformity and repetitious nature or their construction along with their individual characteristics and unnecessary details, often hidden and usually covered in soot. Manchester is a much cleaner place now with much of the soot removed.

Once busy workplaces...

The history of the cotton industry is full of tales of hardship with unspeakable working conditions. I often wonder what stories these buildings could tell if they had a voice?

All attempts by man to control nature are pitted against the inevitable way she reclaims what was hers in the end. There is a sense of futility but also a celebration of the magnificence of both.

Changing places

Continued neglect and the demolition of so many mills has resulted in massive change to the surrounding area. A constant source of interest as I still visit family there. It is an unsettling feeling, being lost in an area which was once so familiar, of losing touch with one’s roots. A natural consequence of aging I’m sure but also of moving away.

My feelings are ambiguous, a sense of sorrow at their passing, but also a delight in the exciting new constructions brought in to replace them. I depict how these structures dominated a landscape. To celebrate their innate beauty. To reflect on the lives affected and the passing of an era.

10 thoughts on “Industrial Landscapes”

    1. Thank you Earnest! Glad you like my work. I use watercolour and acrylic ink combined. Occasionally I add mica powder or pastel.

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  2. Dave Decadent

    Very much like your painting of the Baytree and Laurel mills. Evokes my childhood in the area; although spent more time viewing from the canal-side. Do you paint bygone scenes from memory or from photos?

    1. Hi Dave,
      Thanks for commenting and so pleased you like my painting. You must have grown up near where I did? Mills Hill, Chadderton or Junction? This was how we viewed them from the front door of our house. In this instance it’s a combination of memory and photographs I’ve found on the internet since I can’t find the exact view. I did have a picture of it somewhere but it’s been lost in various moves. I’m still hoping it will turn up with one of my relatives. Like you, I spent a lot of time viewing it from the canal. Usually whilst daring each other to cross the lock gates – or rather the concrete slab as it was when I was young. I’ve some more recent images of other mills I’m planning to work on but some have a special significance like Laurel and Baytree and Times Mill. Sadly there aren’t too many images of them to work from and now they’ve been demolished there will be no more.

  3. Dave Decadent

    Yes, I grew up around the corner in Laurel Avenue, could see the B & L Mills from my bedroom window. The Rochdale canal was always an attraction, especially the locks as was. Embarrassingly was guilty of throwing stones at the Laurel windows canal-side on occasion. I remember Mars bars and various other confectionaries being thrown across the canal off the fire escape by workers in the Baytree. I have a few photos but mostly what’s available on the internet + a few I took during their demolition although I’d moved from Chadderton by then. As I’m sure you are aware, they did feature heavily in the television drama/play Brick is Beautiful.
    The area behind the B & L Mills was a great place. It’s now the Drummer Hill estate but back then (60’s/70’s) I knew it as the Sand Hills. It must’ve been some sort of sand quarry originally but fab place to play as a child. Do you recall this? Annoyingly I can find essentially nothing on the internet about this area. As for the Times Mill, I missed its demolition but witnessed its neighbours demise the Lister Mill.
    Much as I’m a fan of the B & L Mills, my real (nerdy) interest is the Jam Works (CWS Preserve Works) that was further along Mills Hill Road opposite the Malta Mill. Perhaps a future subject?? Will be keeping an eye out for any of your forthcoming work depicting this type of subject.

  4. Small world! We were on Aspinall St! Who can forget the Mars factory and the “freebies”! Timing was everything. I didn’t know about Brick is beautiful, must see if I can trace a copy, would be interested to see. Was a poor student without a TV when it came out. I’d be interested in seeing your pictures? Any reference material is helpful and I haven’t found much on Baytree and Laurel Mills. There’s a Steeplejack site which has some amazing pictures but much is all over northern England – will look up the link if you’re interested.
    I remember Sand Hills. I “ran away” there once when I was about 8 or 9. Thought I’d gone miles and then got bored, was probably only away for an hour or 2 tops. I remember Lister Mill although I didn’t witness the demise, heard about it and saw the wreckage. Remember the Jam works although it’s less of an interest than Malta Mill – have pictures ready to go on that, so maybe they will happen soon.
    I’m a Mill girl at heart I reckon. I’ve got some commissions to do first though. I’ve done ones of Swan Mill and Quarry Bank in Style. They’ve been using QB for the series “The Mill”. It’s far too clean now though! I’ve not put them in the portfolio section yet, will try and post them when I’m on my laptop later. Thanks for commenting, it’s been great to hear about some of my old haunts from someone who remembers them.

  5. steve murray

    Hi cathy,i grew up at number 2 mills hill right next door to the mills,i love looking at your work as it brings back tonnes of memories,i have to take exception with dave though,drummer hill was partridge way estate sandy hills is firwood park,the gate you painted could you tell me where it is,its driving me mad,i know it but cant place it,thanks for the memories.

    1. Thank you Steve, Glad to hear you enjoy my work. It’s a bit of a trip down memory lane for me as well. Middleton has changed so much. I’m not against change but I miss all the mills.
      The Gateway is the gates to the Cemetary by St Leonard’s Church AKA Middleton Parish Church with the Wooden Tower. (Church is on my list to do eventually) They haven’t moved in years as people tend to use the ones at the top of the hill. Hope that puts you out of your misery?

  6. steve murray

    Thanks soooo much,all my kids have been christened there,no wonder i knew them ha,i really look forward to seeing the st leonards painting,thanks cathy.

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