Rebuilt tannery works in Carlisle still fit for purpose

The English Damside building
The English Damside building

Many changes were made to English Damside in advance of the building of the northern approaches to Citadel Station to accommodate the Victoria Viaduct.

Lines had come in at a lower level to a Caledonian Railway goods shed which had to be demolished.

The Carlisle Journal in March 1875 reported on an accident while pulling the building down.

A remaining gable was caught by the wind while 13 men were working beneath and as it fell towards them only seven got out of the way uninjured. Two men were killed and others were badly hurt.

There had been a tannery opposite the goods shed and the opportunity was taken to rebuild it.

A photograph taken on September 20, 1877, shows the newly-completed building. This was given the name of the Phoenix Leather Works and when it was offered for sale in October 1879 the newspaper stated that the property had been erected three years ago by George Bewley.

The proprietor had died and his trustees offered the building with a reserve of £1,700. It was bought by J and W Story who continued using the premises as a leather works along with their Brookside tannery at Wigton.

It was next mentioned in the Journal in January 1889 because of a crash just outside the station. Two engines collided and “one piece of buffers off one engine projected 70 feet with great force into the leather works of Messrs Story which was just opposite the scene of the accident”.

The offending metal weighed 5lbs and “dashed through the window and landed upon a hard Kendal stone table in which it knocked two small holes and hit the wooden table beneath”.

Fortunately no one inside was injured.

An 1890s photograph shows the building with the name “E Errington and Son, Phoenix Leather Works” on the front.

In July 1913 the proprietor, JE Thompson, trading under the name E Errington, failed with a loss of £8,000 and thus the works were offered for sale with the stock in trade.

Bankruptcy proceedings were formally closed in September and the mortgage holder instructed a sale of the premises on October 27, 1913, and it ceased as a leather works.

The St Nicholas Firewood Co were forced out of their premises behind the Salvation Army hall at St Nicholas by a fire in 1915 and they were tenants for a number of years.

Still known as the Phoenix Leather Works, it was reported in the Journal in 1920, that “George Dowell, Botchergate, has sold the works, which he recently purchased, to Arnold Beaty, acting for a syndicate of locals who have a view to starting a new industry in Carlisle”.

In 1927 the works were listed as The Secura Incubator Co Ltd.

Health Committee minutes in July 1932 granted permission for a “projecting sign for Mr O’Reilly” on the Phoenix Works.

The 1937 Carlisle Directory lists at the Phoenix Works, “Wilson Bros, electrical and mechanical engineers”.

After that the Phoenix name is dropped and this makes it more difficult to identify occupants.

Deeds in the Archives Centre end in 1942.

Today it is the Bodytek Fitness Centre.

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