Graffiti Factory

On my journey back to the office after a meeting in Elland recently, I spotted this ‘Local Traffic Only’ sign as I was about to pull onto the M62 motorway, so I decided to explore this village called Blackley for my lunch.

As a drove through the village I noticed a dilapidated old factory and decided to take a peek with the trusty camera. The factory in question was the Blackley Fire Clay Works, or ‘Wilkinson’s Brickworks of Blackley’. The place became locally known as ‘Wilkinsons of Elland’, which was started by Samuel Wilkinson in 1883 and his sons Fred and Arthur who later became managers. The chimney at the works was built-in 1894 and is quite a local landmark, sitting proud on top of the valley overlooking the vista of Elland, Halifax and beyond. In 1983 the brick company was taken over by Butterly Bricks but sadly the site closed in 1985. Although this historic site has had countless attempts for re-generation, the last was for a 162 home residential scheme, which considering the views from the site was surely a no-brainer for the commercial developer. Balfer Beatty where the last to use the site as a storage facility while working on the nearby M62 upgrade.

The factory now has a new and extremely frequent visitor in the form of ‘Urban Graffiti Artists’ who have totally transformed the entire site into their own visual playground. Not a single wall has got away from their Flame, MTN, Belton or Krylon spray paints of choice. The chimney tower was no exception…how they got where they did is a mystery, it reminded me of Marlon Shakespeare aka CHOPPER from the 2000AD comic, the urban ‘King Scrawler’ artist from Mega City One who challenged the authority by making his mark of a SMILEY face in just the same ambitious locations. You’ll see from my photography how rival scrawlers compete and sometimes over-paint others work…Quite a visual battlefield.

Equally as a place just for photography it’s just as captivating, and one I’ll be visiting again hopefully for a photo-shoot with a young up-and-coming bands promo stills.

31 thoughts on “Graffiti Factory”

  1. ADORE this. In love with this treasure you have found. Tad jealous too, if it’s ok to admit that?! would love to both shoot and be “shot” in this spot. ( is that vain? apologies if it is). LOVE LOVE your color select work. Thank you for sharing this little gem with us. You say eerie , I saw awesome! {of course, I wasn’t the one actually ‘there’!;) }

    1. Hi Hope, it was such a lucky find that place, your right about having a photo shoot there (not vain at all) I’m thinking about taking a band up there for their promo shots…my first gig for this kind of work, so I’m doing it as a freebie for them.

      Kind of experimenting with the colour work at the moment, seems to be working out.

      Thanks again for the lovely comments
      Carl 🙂

      1. The location would make a great album cover too… Yeah, the word came to me as I looked at your photos… VandArt looks better. 😉 I love it too and will write something about it… 😎
        Enjoy the week ahead!

  2. Hi! I’m using the first of these great photos for a little 3d animation experiment – a little personal project under creative commons. But I was wondering if you could provide some meta-data etc? I’m also very curious about the focal length, lens size etc you used. “view 01” is the photo’s name.
    perhaps you can contact me directly as well?

    The idea for the animation is to do a camera match: i recreate the space of the photo in 3D and apply the photo to it from the shot’s perspective. This allows me then to sort of redo the lighting and all sorts of fun things. I’m planning to make a fire/explosion that lights up all this graffiti. The photo is perfect for such things because of the equal lighting.

    1. Not a problem, I’ll dig out the original RAW file and let you know all the details, the Exif data should have recorded all the info

      Sounds a cracking project, let me know when it’s done and send me a link if you host it on YouTube

      1. thanks a lot!
        right now, it looks like this:
        goes a bit fast as you can see. If you pause it on 720p, you might see more, and that things are not aligned perfectly 😉 I’m not sure really what I want to achieve with the video. Just like to play around with (virtual) fire. And I really love these photos of this abandoned factory!

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