Huge fire destroys 110-year-old Ray Mill in Stalybridge
Sunday 18th March 2018 @ 02:44 by Tom Greggan
News Stalybridge Tameside

The demolition of Ray Mill is expected to take place today after the Stalybridge landmark was destroyed by fire over the weekend.

More than fifty firefighters worked throughout Saturday and Sunday night, and into Monday to tackle the blaze after receiving the call at 11.43pm on Saturday (March 28th).

Flames engulfed five stories of the mill and at the height of the fire, ten fire engines and crews from across Greater Manchester were battling the blaze alongside two aerial appliances.

The majority of the fire is now under control, with firefighters unable to access the remaining pockets due to the building not being safe. Drone footage posted on social media shows the extent of the damage.

The smoke from the fire could be smelt across most of Tameside, including Audenshaw, Droylsden and Dukinfield. Local residents keep there doors and windows closed. Road closures will remain in place on Clarence Street and Tame Street for most of the week while the demolition takes place., so anybody who would normally commute that way should find an alternative route. Employees at Stagecoach worked through the night to move eighty buses from their nearby depot, to minimise disruption during the Monday morning commute.

Fire crews battled through the night in tough conditions to control the blaze.

Incident Commander, Station Manager Bjorn Burdsall said on Sunday afternoon: “Although the fire is considerably small than it has been it is still giving off a fair amount of smoke. Even though the likelihood of having doors and windows open in this weather is slim, please keep them closed to stop any smoke from entering your homes.

“We have the incident under control thanks to the tremendous work of our firefighters and the close working we have had with partners, including Tameside Borough Council, Greater Manchester Police, Cadent Gas, the Environment Agency and the building owners amongst others.”

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service have begun their investigation into the cause of the blaze.

A Tameside Council spokesperson said: “We wish to extend our thanks to those who worked extremely hard in very challenging conditions to bring the fire under control and to ensure the safety of the public, particularly the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

“We also want to recognise the efforts of those who have worked throughout the night to ensure that 80 buses could be removed from near-by transport depot to ensure that disruption to public transport is minimised.

“As the council’s main operational depot is next to the seriously damaged building, we will make all possible efforts to ensure that key services such as gritting and waste collection continue and to minimise disruption. This will be dependent on building surveys and safety considerations.”

The historic mill is 110 years old and was the last of the borough’s 275 textile mills to be constructed between 1763 and 1908. Cotton production ended in the mill in 1982.

Fire crews are still at the scene, with road closures expected until the middle of the week.

One of it’s current tenants is successful Tameside cheerleading group TCA Tycoons, who are facing the prospect of finding a new home. A devastated founder and Principal, Jane Wood, said: “We are in Nottingham at Nationals and we had just won a bid to compete worlds with our hip-hop team, so we were celebrating, then this news hit us. There are no words to express my feeling right now.”

A fundraising page has been launched to help TCA Tycoons get back on their feet, raising over £2,000 in just eight hours. You can donate here.

Global Grooves, a charity which organises carnivals all over the world, including the Tameside Winter Lantern Festival, have lost thousands of pounds worth of equipment and five years worth of work that had been stored at one of their studio spaces at Ray Mill. They are hoping to raise £20,000 to make new work, to enable them to bounce back and continue to offer incredible creative opportunities.

CEO Leon Patel said: “We are absolutely devastated to wake up to this news. Over 5 years of work has been lost and over a lifetimes worth of project development by the artists and teams that have put this work together. Now more than ever we need to the support of our friends and partners. We are still in shock.”

Donations to Global Grooves can be made here.

Businesses registered at the mill include Manchester Spray Finish, Sub-Prime Direct, Universal Garments International Ltd, Impact Fashion and Alm786.

(Photos courtesy of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, Graham Wood and TMBC Places.)