Film ID:
YFA 5783

NORTHERN LINE: ONE MAN’S MILL

1987

Visitor Tabs

Description

A documentary about the fate of Dean Clough Mill in Halifax in becoming a business centre after its closure as a factory for Crossley Carpets in 1982, part of Yorkshire Television’s Northern Line series.  The programme features interviews with many of those involved in the Mill and its new venture, especially Ernest Hall who started it.  It also includes the launch of UK 2000 job creation scheme in 1986 with Richard Branson, and a visit by Prince Charles to Chair the inaugural session of Business in the Community. 

The film begins with a view over Halifax, and focuses in on the Dean Clough Mill.  It then shows David Wilde playing piano in a concert inside the mill.  The narrator gives a brief history of the mill, owned by Crossley Carpets, at one time the largest carpet factory in Europe.  Ex-workers recount some of their experiences working in the factory as we watch looms at work when it was still operating.  Now we see an empty shell, with papers scattered on the floors of abandoned offices.  

After the mill closed in 1982 it was bought within a year by multi-millionaire Ernest Hall, who we see riding on a horse on his estate.  Ernest Hall states that his father was a mill worker, and that he knew deprivation as a child.  He states that, “failure is only the result of giving up trying” and that, “enterprise is really positive creative thinking”.   He talks about his plans for Dean Clough Mill and we see inside with new offices, and are told that it is attracting both small and large businesses, now numbering about 160.  One of these is SUMA wholefoods.  A female manager of SUMA explains how their premises in Leeds were too small and so they relocated to the Mill where there is much more space.  She also states that she found business parks too clinical and soulless.  We see SUMA products stored in the Mill, including boxes with “Hedgehog” written on the side.

There are interviews with several unidentified people who state that the Mill is not the answer to local unemployment.  Some other businesses that have located at the Mill are shown, with interviews with their managers, including Mark Wade’s printing business, where both his parents also work.  Mark Wade states that he started out on a £40 per week Enterprise Allowance and a £1,000 grant from the Royal Jubilee Trust.  Then to Ann Lyster typesetting, who describes how she got established as she enters text into a computer using DOS.  There is a brief return to the piano concert, with a very formally dressed audience. Ernest Hall says that art and enterprise are intertwined.  More small businesses are seen, including a small engineering workshop, window makers and wooden toy makers.  

The film moves on to the launch of UK 2000 job creation scheme with Richard Branson, wearing a colourful jumper, with an interview with Lord Young and another Tory minister.  Ernest Hall gives a speech at the launch in Dean Clough Mill.  There are more interviews, with a woman pointing out that the area has lost 16,000 jobs in the previous seven years, and that this scheme is not going to replace these.  A woman employed in the local Employment Centre is interviewed, and we see a list of the firms located in the Mill.  One interviewee describes Ernest Hall as a “new Victorian”, a description Hall seems happy to embrace, espousing the virtues of the Victorian entrepreneur.  

Preparations are being made for the visit of the Prince of Wales, who is chairing the first session of Business in the Community, giving an introductory speech after being shown some examples of stained glass by Neil Oddy who has a small business in the Mill.  The film ends where it began, back at the piano recital, now playing a piece composed by Ernest Hall, with more excerpts from interviews, and back with the view over Halifax.

Yorkshire Television    
(There are no credits on the film)
Director - Nick Salmon 
Producer/Narrator - Robert Hall