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24 September 2014
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December 2003
Memorial to forgotten mill workers
Some of the workers had stayed to breakfast at their looms...
New Year 1883 was a far from happy time in Bradford. Just a few days before a massive mill chimney collapsed, killing 54 people and injuring many more.

A Sense of Place in West Yorkshire



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On Wednesday, 27th December, 1882 workers returned to Newlands Mill in West Bowling after their Christmas break.

The following day, shortly after 8am, workers were at their morning breakfast break when the mill's massive chimney collapsed. 54 people were killed and many more injured. Had the chimney fallen earlier, during the early morning shift, many more people would have been killed.

Many workers had gone home for the break but those who breakfasted at their looms were caught up in the disaster. Whole families were lost and many of the survivors were seriously injured.

Newlands Mill was part of the vast Ripley Mills complex which spanned Parma Street and Upper Castle Street. Over 2,000 people worked in the mills and many were children.

The Newlands Mill chimney was 255 feet high and weighed 4,000 tons. It stood behind the boiler house which provided the steam power to drive the spinning frames and looms.

There had been extensive coal and iron mining on the site of the mill complex and a warren of tunnels and excavations ran under the buildings. Despite some opposition at the time the tall chimney was built directly over the old pit shaft which had been filled in with wood and other debris.

The chimney suffered continually from structural problems and by 1882 cracks, and even a bulge, had appeared and masonry was beginning to fall from the structure. Some repair work had been undertaken during the Christmas break.

Although largely forgotten for 120 years a commemorative stone has now been unveiled in memory of those killed in the disaster. This is part of a general scheme to improve the environment and provide landscaping in the St Stephen's Road area.

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