Walking in to the Shadow Factory site you are initially greeted to a wide vista. Several buildings surround you which lie under the gaze of residential tower blocks in the distance. Oil tars the floor and materials usually seen on a construction site are scattered everywhere. Whether this is an image of its past or future remains to be seen.
Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds’ origins go back over 250 years as a small ironworks in Dowlais, South Wales. The company was bourne from the merger between the Birmingham screw manufacturer Nettlefolds and Guest, Keen & Co in 1902. This made it the largest employer in the town.
By the outbreak of the First World War the company produced over half the screws and about a quarter of the nuts and bolts made in the country.
The building itself was originally an Imperial Mill, which was converted for the manufacture of nuts and bolts. The only evidence of this are the bolts scattered among the debris and vegetation which is slowly trying to reclaim the land.
My favourite thing about abandoned buildings is the small stories you begin to imagine as you stumble across little sites. Things which are ordinary in everyday life stand out amongst destruction and decay.
I spent quite a while in the toilets for the same reason. Not a sentence I thought I would ever say but it was almost a sombre experience. The more ordinary the room, the greater the disparity between what it was and what it currently is.
A building of interest
One building in particular fascinated me. It stands out from the others as one which would be rich with stories and images.
Unfortunately it does not seem to be accessible through ‘non-traditional’ means. There is the possibility that I can gain access in the future, having called the demolition company. Currently the building and the site are full of asbestos and was told January would be the earliest point for a visit. A scary thing to hear after having visited! In future a breathing mask, proper boots and flashlight are in order!
I have also made a video of the factory.