Dalton Mills: Two boys charged with arson two years after Grade II-listed Yorkshire mill was destroyed in fire

Two teenagers have been charged with arson after a fire which destroyed Dalton Mills in Keighley.

The fire in March 2022 shocked the town and left the Victorian mill’s main building, which had been used as a Peaky Blinders filming location by the BBC, an empty shell.

West Yorkshire Police confirmed this week that two 17-year-old boys, who cannot be named as they are legally minors, have been charged in connection with the incident and will appear at Bradford Magistrates Court on April 29.

Three other teenagers have been released without charge.

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The aftermath of the Dalton Mills fireThe aftermath of the Dalton Mills fire
The aftermath of the Dalton Mills fire

There was a further fire at the derelict Grade II-listed mill in September 2023, despite Bradford Council claiming the site was secure.

The mill was built in the 1860s and the complex had been partially restored before the 2022 arson, with the clock tower renovated as office and studio space.

Northamptonshire businessman Paul Harris bought Dalton Mills, which had been disused 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.

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.

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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.

Despite the roof collapsing, building inspectors ruled that the mill did not need to be demolished, but that it was the responsibility of the owner to engage contractors to begin repairs and restoration.

The council added that there were ‘numerous’ regeneration projects ongoing in Keighley and that Dalton Mills was seen as a key site.