Windsor Works: Our Home is Our Castle

Jack Simpson

Head of Marketing and Communications

Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.

As the Web Apps team anticipates the opening of our state-of-the-art Centre of Excellence in Elizabeth House, a site directly neighbouring our main base, it seems an appropriate time to delve into the fascinating history of Windsor Works, a location that first became a site for business as early as the 1840s.

Windsor Works as we know it now has taken on a variety of names and functions in the past. Records inform us that the site that was once known as the Gravel Mill was built sometime earlier than 1844 and was then occupied in 1861 by James Greaves – perhaps it was the purpose of this mill that led to the title of ‘Gravel Walk’, a neighbouring street. By 1881, the mill had become disused and was demolished soon afterwards. The site was then redeveloped as Ward and Whitham’s Umbrian Cycle Works of Honduras Street.

In 1908, the building was taken over by Cobden Chadwick for engineering. This use continued until 1935 and the building was later used for the manufacture of stockinet by the Oldham Knitting Co. Ltd. The 1950s trade directory suggests they made hand bags, mutton cloths and cleaning rolls. In 1960 the building changed use again, as leather goods started to be manufactured there by Skovia Ltd.

The building became a warehouse before being redeveloped into apartments and commercial office space by Dalby Developments Ltd in a project costing over £1.5 million. The regeneration plan, completed in 2009, involved the refurbishment of the building – the bottom two floors were leased for commercial use, whilst the third storey featured five new apartments. An extra storey was built onto the old mill, in order to serve as five modern penthouses.

The regeneration plan, completed in 2009, is said to have brought the beautiful building “back to life”, having been derelict for a number of years. It is now plush, vibrant and a feature particularly applicable to the Web Apps offices, hi-tech. However, developers have retained many of the late Victorian features such as the bare brick walls, original stone staircase and maple wood floor boards, which means Windsor Works is able to preserve its rich and varied history. The renewal of the building was suitably documented by the Oldham Chronicle newspaper:

Windsor Works as it is today offers us as much now as it has ever offered Oldham industry. Minutes from the M60 motorway and several active bus stops nearby, the building is certainly well situated. More recently, it falls within the projected tramline corridor and so we will soon be equipped with a new ease of access and convenience for both clients and staff. Not only does the building serve as a monument to Oldham’s industrial past, but it is also the perfect location for a growing business to prosper.