An investigation is underway after one of Huddersfield’s most iconic landmarks was destroyed in a devastating blaze.
Grade II-listed Newsome Mill is set for demolition after a “suspicious” fire broke out in the early hours of Thursday.
The mill’s windows blew out, the floors collapsed and roof was burned through leaving the beloved building a skeleton of unstable walls.
Residents and fire crews told how they saw sparks fly, heard timber crackle and could smell smoke for miles, while eyewitnesses recounted the horrifying crash as the floors gave way.
Watch Commander Darren Bagley, from Huddersfield Fire Station, said the building was “totally gutted” by the flames which were seen for miles around, but that the iconic clock tower escaped serious damage.
He said: “We arrived shortly before 5am and the building was well alight.
“Our priority was protecting an unaffected nearby building on Ruth Street, so we hosed it down before tackling the flames in the mill.”
More than 100 firefighters from across West Yorkshire attended in 20 fire engines.
They used aerial platforms to battle the blaze from above, while water was pumped from the nearby river.
Police later confirmed an arson investigation was underway.
Det Insp Mark Walker of Huddersfield CID said: “Following information from the Fire and rescue service we are investigating this as suspected arson and I would appeal to anyone who saw any suspicious activity in the area to contact DS Pete Usher on 101 quoting log 145 of November 17.”
Darren Bagley added: “It is likely someone entered the building and set it alight.”
Demolition crews arrived at the site at 7.30 to inspect the damage.
Darren added: “Unfortunately the building will have to be demolished.
“The clock tower has escaped serious damage so could be salvageable.”
Proposals had been made to develop the mill into properties, which were put on hold by Kirklees, while an application for development on adjacent Hart Street is currently awaiting approval.
Newsome Clr Andrew Cooper said the blaze could change plans for development dramatically.
“You have to wonder what the developers’ view is on this now the situation has changed.”
Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman said he is calling for a full investigation into how the fire started.
He said: “I’m very unhappy that part of our history and heritage has been destroyed. I want to know how and why this happened, and, if it was deliberate, who started it.”
A textile mill was founded on the site in 1827, with the current building being built in the 1880s after the previous one was also lost to a fire.