Dalton Mills: Council says historic Yorkshire building is 'secure' despite second fire 18 months after major arson attack and concerns over ownership

Bradford Council has said that Dalton Mills in Keighley is ‘secure’ despite a second fire in 18 months at the historic site.

In March 2022, the main building at the Grade II-listed mill, built in the 1860s, was destroyed by a fire that was later confirmed as arson and five people were arrested. The site had been used as a filming location for productions including Peaky Blinders. Ancillary buildings, including the Clock Tower, had been restored as office and studio space.

However, this week another blaze broke out at the Victorian complex and eight fire engines were sent to the scene. Commenting on the latest incident, Bradford Council said: “Our building control team have inspected the site, which is secure and we will continue to liaise with the tenants and owners of the mill going forward.”

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Northamptonshire businessman Paul Harris bought Dalton Mills, which had been derelict since the 1980s, in 2013, and announced plans to turn it into an arts, cultural and Asian wedding venue. However, the main building was never restored. Instead the mill floor was hired out for TV filming and has appeared in Peaky Blinders and Downton Abbey.

The original March 2022 fire which destroyed Dalton MillsThe original March 2022 fire which destroyed Dalton Mills
The original March 2022 fire which destroyed Dalton Mills

According to Companies House, Mr Harris's firm Bellissimo Workspaces Ltd had not filed accounts since 2018 and in 2020 was served with a compulsory wind-up order - which would have meant forfeiting assets - though this was later suspended.

Bellissimo's website had been taken offline by the time of the 2022 arson and the Dalton Mills Facebook page had not been updated since 2019.

In the immediate aftermath of the 2022 fire, the council struggled to contact the owner and a year later, Historic England told the Local Democracy Reporting Service’s Bradford reporter, Chris Young, that no plans to secure the mill’s future had been submitted.