Bolton-on-Dearne Anti-Aircraft Battery, South Yorks – June 2012

Bolton-on-Dearne Anti-Aircraft Battery, South Yorks – June 2012

This site is, for some obscure reason, a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Station H17 was established in late-1942 to protect Sheffield’s heavy industry following the blitz of 1940/41.

It housed four 3.7 inch anti-aircraft guns arranged in a semi-circle of emplacements around a central command post.


Gun mount

Taken from on top of one of the emplacements – somewhere out there are another 3 emplacements and the command post

The central command building would have had an identification telescope, a predictor and height finder, which fed information to the plotting room within the command post.

The command post is flooded

The battery was manned by 250 men and women from 626 (m) HAA Battery, 646 Battery and the Auxiliary Territorial Service.

Nissan Hut for storage of ammunition

Apparently the battery never fired a single shot and in 1944 the battery workers were deployed to coastal batteries to defend against German Doodlebugs.


Wincobank Gasometer, Sheffield

In 1938 the Duke of Kent opened the largest gasholder of its type in the world in Wincobank for the Sheffield Gas Company – not sure which (if any) of the two current gasholders on this site is the 1938 original.

Archive pic

These are both now decommissioned and emptied of gas so the roof is at the lowest point

We went up the larger of the two, unfortunately these don’t have the full frame seen in other examples, so a bit dull in comparison


Stairway to heaven – no pics from the top as there was nowhere to put a tripod

The adjacent smaller gasholder

Tablets (highSO)


Apologies for the lack of photos, there wasn’t much variety in the views.

Underneath Halifax

The steep valleys and streams of this West Yorkshire town have, over the years, been built over and utilised by the local woollen industry for water, power and maybe even transport resulting in an underground world that is only seen a few.

Wet and dark for sure, but also strangely beautiful.


Victorian stone walls give way to more modern round metal pipes.


Dyson Thermal Technologies, Stannington nr Sheffield

Dyson Thermal Technologies manufacture high performance Zirconia (Zirconium Oxide) and Tin Oxide refractory ceramics (at least that’s what it says on their website).

They do this by taking some powder, mixing it up a bit, squishing it into shapes then cooking it in a big oven called a kiln. (This bit isn’t on the website )

For some reason they stopped doing the mixing, squishing and cooking thing in this beautiful bit of Sheffield and decided to go do it somewhere else instead. Bad news for the people who worked here, but good news for us lot who like to poke our noses where we shouldn’t.

Not a bad little mooch I suppose, but for some reason I couldn’t really raise that much enthusiasm for it.


Big oven


The original iPod

Tunnel kiln

Just indulge me this one…cliched lonely chair shot

and OFF

Pilkington Glass, Doncaster

Pilkingtons were originally established in St Helens, Lancs in 1826.

Around the time of WW1 they looked to establish another site in the UK, supposedly to protect against European competitors entering the British market.

The site chosen for this was Kirk Sandall near Doncaster, favoured for its canal side location and ready access to local coal and sand.

The plant opened at great cost in 1922, apparently consuming most of the company’s reserves plus an additional £1m in new capital.

In 1923 Pilkingtons, in collaboration with Ford in the State, developed a continuous flow process for the manufacture of glass plate and a method of continuous grinding. Doncaster was quickly converted to this new technology, again at huge expense.

In the 1950’s Pilkingtons developed the “float” method of glass production (the molten glass is poured onto a bath of molten tin at 1000C). This was much cheaper as it did not require the grinding and polishing processes. Pilkingtons quickly set about converting all their factories to this new technology…except Doncaster.

By 1963 Doncaster was the only Pilkington factory producing polished plate glass and by 1966 was only running at 56% of capacity and production was suspended and the plant mothballed.

Not sure what happened in the intervening years, but there was obviously an upturn in fortunes as the plant was producing up to December 2008. This video shows footage of the last day of production.

Now compare and contrast that video with how it looks today…

Vast…but empty.

This was obviously the room where the continuous casting process took place

To you, to me

To the side of the long room were various rooms with hoppers

Burning Barrows

Plenty of evidence of the local metal recycling squad having been here




Outside was a small treatment plant

And a nice sunset to end the day (the “bridge” carried pipes from the treatment plant over the canal and River Don).

The Grand Theatre, Doncaster

Doncaster’s Grand Theatre once stood on Station Road, which led to the train station – quite an important thoroughfare in the town where the Flying Scotsman and The Mallard steam engines were built. You can see the Grand in the centre background of this picture – its the only one of those buildings still standing, all the rest swept away by the 60s/70s in favour of one of those lovely Arndale Centres

The theatre is now hemmed in on 3 sides by the shopping centre (whose owners also own the theatre) and on the other side by a dual carriageway, which has actually taken a bit out of Grand.

I neglected to get any externals on the day (mainly because I wanted to GTFO ASAP as I know the shopping centre security can be pretty keen), so here’s a “library” photo (Lomo fisheye)

Some history courtesy of the Friends of the Grand Theatre

The Grand was opened on the 27th March 1899. It started its life as a Circus Hall and then became the home of the Salvation Army, it was used for Political Speakers and eventually it was bought and turned into a theatre by a Mr J W Chapman, who at that time was the Lessee of the Old Theatre which stood in the Market Place. It was designed by J P Briggs and was built by a local firm of builders, Arnold & Sons.

It was one of the first theatres in the country to have electric lights and also a sprinkler system installed. All staircases in the building are in stone as fire was a great hazard in those days.

Many famous names ‘trod the boards’ at the Grand including Charlie Chaplin, Max Miller, Henry Hall and his band with Betty Driver (who went on to play Betty Williams in Coronation Street), Julie Andrews and Morecambe & Wise.

and from The Theatres Trust

The Grand Theatre’s last stage production was Showboat in 1962 after which it was converted to a bingo hall. In the 1980s a ring road was built around the theatre and as a consequence a corner of the stage was chamfered. In 1995 the bingo closed and the theatre was due for demolition but was saved by the Friends of the Doncaster Grand Theatre along with Doncaster Civic Trust who succeeded in getting it statutory listed Grade II.

The Grand Theatre had a lucky escape in 1942 when a German dropped two bombs on the town centre, one of which flattened a car and motorbike showroom directly opposite the Grand

Fast forward to 2011 and the Grand sits neglected and constrained by its surroundings. There is evidence of water causing some damage in the Gallery section, but not too bad so far although some remedial work wouldn’t go amiss (or a full scale restoration but I think that might be asking a bit much).

From the back of the stage


From the stage

The Circle

The stage as seen from the Circle

Moulding detail

The Gallery

Fantastic detail on these seats in the Gallery

Mouldings above the proscenium


Fly tower

Old posters from around 100 years ago

I hope something can be done to save this beautiful building, but frankly I don’t hold out much hope for any investment in the current economic climate.

The Saw Mill

In its later life this was undoubtedly a timber merchants and manufacturer of fencing and sheds , but going by the chimney and what seem to be kilns I believe it may have also been a brick/tile works at some point.

Some of the roofs are extremely sketchy, held up by a couple of planks – if you do find your way here, just be careful what you bump into.

The main attraction is, of course, the vehicles – I can’t understand how anybody can leave these to rot away instead of allowing someone to restore them to their former glory…but I’m glad they do!

A blue tractor


1949 Bedford MLC

1956 Sunbeam 90 Supreme MK III – apparently only 2250 of these were ever made

Ford Thames van from the mid-1950’s

Tricycle, unknown vintage

Volvo 460 holding up the chimney