Jump to content

UK Heap's Rice Mill (Joseph Heap & Sons Ltd.), Liverpool - September 2017

Recommended Posts


Heap’s Rice Mill, which is now Grade II listed, was founded by Joseph Heap. It was constructed in 1778, on Pownall Street, Liverpool. Originally, the site operated as a small processing mill; however, additional warehouse space was constructed as demand for rice in Europe increased. The warehouse space was later combined with the mill to form one single building. The reason for Joseph Heap’s success can be attributed to the Indian Mutiny of 1857-58 and the American Civil War in 1861-65 as these events meant British traders were forced to seek out trade in other areas of the British Empire. Heap was one of the first to establish trade in British-ruled Burma. By 1864 the company was sending its own ships to acquire one thousand tons of ‘Cargo Rice’ for its Liverpool mill. Joseph Heap & Sons Ltd. became wealthy enough to own its own shipping firm which was known as Diamond H Line, named after their house flag. 

In the mid-1800s, during a period of expansion, Heap’s company constructed a number of new warehouses at various other sites across Liverpool. These buildings were used for the storage of sugar, and as additional office space. The sugar warehouses were later adapted and amalgamated into the rice mill industry. At this point in time, Joseph Heap & Sons Ltd. vessels were sailing as far as the East Indies and Australia. The original mill would also become the one that ground rice for Kellog’s Rice Krispies in 1927.

Despite several changes in ownership, Joseph Heap & Sons Ltd. main mill was still fully operational up until 1988. After this time, some operations were transferred to a new site on Regent Road. Parts of the mill on Pownall Street continued to operate until 2005. Twelve years later, however, and Heap’s original Rice Mill has decayed badly due to water damage, to the extent that it was due to be demolished in 2014. Nevertheless, a petition to save the site resulted in it being categorised as a listed building by English Heritage. This means the imposing structure remains one of the earliest and last surviving warehouse complexes in a once-thriving industrial area. It is also an important reminder of Liverpool’s rich mercantile history and overall prominence. In terms of its future, it is reported that the building is due to be converted into luxury apartments. However, the £130 million residential development has been heavily criticised because the developers threatened to pull out if they were forced to keep the interior. Subsequently, it is likely that only the original façade of the mill will survive; the interior is due to be sleek and modern. 

Our Version of Events

In the mood for a bit of action and adventure, we decided to have a drive over to Liverpool. We had a bit of business to attend to over in Scouse Land first, but plenty of time before that to get a couple of explores under our belts. We didn’t really have much of a plan, but since there are many places on our to-do list over in the North West, we had high hopes we’d get something interesting done.  

After taking a look at a site we’ve had our eye on for a while, and deciding the street was too busy for us to access it, we wandered back to where we’d parked the car. It was on the way that we spotted a very large derelict-looking building that was just ripe for the picking. It didn’t take us long to realise that this was the old Heap’s Rice Mill (the name is written on the side of the building) and that it’s rather historic. 

Finding access to the rice mill was a bit of a ball-ache to be honest. All of the ground-level doors and windows are covered with heavy-duty metal doors and shutters, so there’s no getting past those. We spent the next half an hour wracking our brains and were on the verge of giving up when we realised the way in was right in front of us. This raised our urbex-deprived spirits and ten seconds later we were inside the old mill, staring up in awe at an incredible bridge and several large tanks. The place felt absolutely huge from the inside, and it was fucked, in a nice, photogenic kind of way. The only downfall was the phenomenal amount of green fetid bird shit dripping from the roof, which was weird because there didn’t appear to be any living birds. 

Splodging our way through a good inch of crap, we made our way to the far end of the enormous alleyway we seemed to be in. From there, we found a staircase and made our way up with the intention of finding the roof. However, by level three we soon discovered that the former metal staircase had become so corroded a huge section had fallen off. This forced us to backtrack a bit, until we found a stone staircase. This was much more sturdy and took us to the top levels of the building. Roaming around up here, though, is quite risky, so if anyone happens to pop to Heap’s Rice Mill after seeing this report, watch your step! You should take Historic England’s description of the building, the one that says the premises is ‘mainly 7-storeys’, quite literally. Many of the floorboards have disappeared, and those that remain are completely rotten. We moved around very tentatively up here. 

Other than a few bits of leftover machinery and random bits of kit, there isn’t much to see throughout the building, but the extreme decay is pretty cool to see. The best bit of the explore, by far, was what we found in the basement. At first, we thought we’d discovered a normal cellar sort of setup. But, we stumbled across a small stone staircase that took us even deeper, until it reached a beautiful brick-lined tunnel. Unfortunately, the tunnel was sealed at the end, but we’re assuming it probably led all the way to the docks at one time. It seemed to head off in that general direction. After wandering around in the basement for a while, we agreed we’d seen most of the building and decided to call it a day. We didn’t have a proper place to stay, so we still had to find a spot to camp. On that note, then, we made our way back to the main street and set off in search of a place to drink a couple of beers and catch fifty winks. 

Explored with MKD. 
























































































































  • Like 2

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Some cool stuff from Liverpool at the moment. I quite like this, photo's well which is always good :) like that little arch type thing :thumb 

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Similar Content

    • By little_boy_explores
      Woolley Hall

      The history

      Woolley Hall is a landscape park largely unchanged since 1800. The park is associated with a Jacobean Hall (dated to around 1635 with later alterations). Features include wooded pleasure grounds, a ha-ha, kitchen garden and ponds. The main house is Grade II listed and the courtyard is Grade II listed as being of Special Architectural and Historic Interest. Michael Wentworth began rebuilding Woolley Hall in 1635. The new Woolley Hall consisted of an 'H'-shaped building of moderate size. An east wing was added to the south front around 1680. The western wing was added during the mid eighteenth century. The eastern wings which form the rest of the present building were added in the early nineteenth century. The house is constructed of hammer-dressed sandstone, with a slate roof. There are four storeys including the attic and basement. Recently Woolley Hall went up for sale (2014) with a guide price of £3m from its owners, Wakefield Council. It was purchased in 2015 by new owners Commercial Development Projects (CDP). Plans were submitted (2016) for a hotel conversion for the Grade II listed building. (CDP) had put forward a proposal to create a 88-bedroom hotel, with function facilities to cater for 300 guests, spa treatment rooms and a gastro restaurant. But (CDP), sent an email to the council (2017) to say they have withdrawn the plans, but gave no explanation. In reaction to the withdrawal, assistant chief executive for resources and governance at Wakefield Council, Michael Clements said: “Wakefield Council agreed to sell Woolley Hall to a local developer last year. “The sale was conditional upon them developing the site into a boutique hotel. “Disappointingly, this deal has now fallen through. It is thought the proceeds would be used to re-invest council capital with a spoke person stating “The proceeds from the sale will be used to support the council’s capital investment plans across the district whilst it will also provide an annual budget saving to help us deal with the funding cuts imposed on us by the Government.”

      The explore

      The hall sits in pleasant surroundings and considering its recent endeavour has a boutique hotel it looks like efforts are been made to keep the hall well maintained. so... during a very windy February morning we moved in for a closer look. It was a little difficult to know where to start with this one as there were quite a few different access routes to the hall... Not knowing if we would be met by a security team we started documenting the building from a far whilst slowly moving in. The hall is quite something and reminded us of one of those old hammer house movies... albeit without Dracula. Moving slowly to the east side of the hall we came across what looked like an old boiler house... although four boilers remained only one was operational... perhaps part of the councils money saving scheme. Making our way though we entered the main hall.. Surprisingly most of the rooms original architecture is preserved with some rather exquisite flooring and panelling. although some of the rooms were accessible most of the doors were bolted and without wrecking what looked like a very well preserved old door we decided to document what we could and move on. Although the main hall was the main attraction we decided to explore some of the stable blocks to the north of the hall... It looks like this was used by council departments including Wakefield social services among others. Largely empty with left overs from its office days with little else on offer. There was some very unusual looking housing quarters although we could not find any entry to these building. On leaving the stable blocks we were met by a very pleasant care taker who gave us a little history whilst politely telling us to f*uck off... 

      The pics 
      The main hall














      The stable block







      The boiler house


      oh well time for a game of golf...

    • By The Urban Collective
      Hey, guys here's my video report on the #post-apocalyptic #Camelot #ThemePark.
      I've already made a photographic report with a full history etc so I won't bore you with that here as it is featured in the footage.
      Thanks for any feedback guys take it, easy man. 
      The Urban Collective
      We Film It...
    • By Lenston
      Visited with The Kwan on a rainy Saturday, some lovely bits left in the area and we missed quite a bit so theres always an excuse for a return visit.
      Some History
      The name Ratgoed derives from “Yr Allt Goed”, which means the steep, wooded hillside. Ratgoed mine was also sometimes known as “Alltgoed”. The Ratgoed slate workings lie at the head of what was originally called Cwm Ceiswyr but became known as Cwm Ratgoed because of the quarry. It lies north of Aberllefenni and northwest of Corris in, what is now, the Dyfi Forest.
      The slate that was quarried at Ratgoed was the Narrow Vein. This runs from south of Tywyn, on the coast, to Dinas Mawddwy about 18 miles inland and follows the line of the Bala Fault. The Narrow Vein was worked along its length at places such as Bryneglwys near Abergynolwyn; Gaewern & Braich Goch at Corris, Foel Grochan at Aberllefenni and Minllyn at Dinas Mawddwy. The slate at Ratgoed dips at 70° to the southeast, the same as Foel Grochan.
      Ratgoed was a relatively small working, it was worked from around 1840 until its closure in 1946.

      Le Kwan










      Thanks for looking
    • By The Urban Collective
      Taxal Lodge - Photographic Report - 2018

      #TaxelLodge Photographic Report - 11th March 2018 Built-in 1904 Taxal Lodge was once the home of Lt. Col. H. Ramsden Jodrell, Who passed away in 1950.
      The home became a Special School, for disruptive and emotionally disturbed kids that lived on site 5 days a week. It replaced an older Taxal Lodge that originally stood further up the valley. 

      Over the years there have been various reports of abuse within the school and a lot of visitors and students claim that the lodge is haunted. 
      Once the plug was pulled by the authorities the school was closed in 2005. Since its closure, the lodge fell victim to vandals & arson.

      Now other nature has now begun to stake her claim... 

      The Urban Collective 
      We Film It...