On a train ride from Leeds to Dewsbury, just before you arrive at Dewsbury station, look out of the windows on the left of the train for a marvellous view of Machell’s Shoddy and Mungo Mill. The sign along the front has been repainted so it clearly and proudly states the building’s previous use- it was converted into flats at the turn of this century.
This imposing building is a real landmark in the city – and on the train journey. When I tell people about shoddy and I get blank looks because people don’t know what it is (happens a lot, even in Leeds), I ask if they’ve spotted the big “shoddy and mungo” sign on the train ride to Dewsbury. That always rings a bell, and another person learns about early recycling, invented right on our doorstep.
The Machell Brothers moved their shoddy and mungo business from Bradford Road to Cloth Hall Mills in 1874. Portrait busts of Robert Fletcher Machell and his brother William, together with Cobden and Disraeli, adorn the office frontage. William was mayor of Dewsbury in 1880 – 1882. The mill buildings lay behind the former Railway Hotel.
The flats at Machell’s Mill are really popular and “are changing the image of this mill town into a chic place”, according to Dewsbury Chamber of Trade. A good example of recycling and re-purposing.