Halifax's iconic Dean Clough Mill recreated in Lego

PUBLISHED: 16:00 01 March 2012 | UPDATED: 21:09 20 February 2013

Halifax's iconic Dean Clough Mill recreated in Lego

Halifax's iconic Dean Clough Mill recreated in Lego

Lego enthusiasts are recreating Halifax's iconic Dean Clough Mill using a million (give or take) of their favourite bricks. Jo Haywood reports

When Jeremy Hall, managing director of Dean Clough Mills, announced he was responding to the recession by launching a major new build project, people were astounded. What he initially failed to mention, however, was that it was made of Lego.

Dean Cloughs virtue is the most difficult thing to demonstrate in a photograph: and thats its scale, he explained. We considered producing an architectural model but that lacked the imaginative edge that has always characterised the site. When our arts coordinator, Dee Grijak, suggested using Lego it felt immediately right.

Three of the 15 mills that will eventually make up the closely detailed 18-metre long model have been completed so far by Lego purists Michael LeCount, a Sheffield primary school teacher, and Tony Priestman, a Halifax-based IT specialist. They have been working on it for two and a half years, including about 12 months preparation and planning, and reckon they have another two and a half to go.

People think models can be thrown together in a week, said Tony, founder of the Brickish Association, the UKs premier group of adult Lego fans. But a big project and they dont come much bigger than Dean Clough take many, many hours of preparation and slog. Weve used about 200,000 bricks so far, so weve probably got another 800,000 to go.

Lego is wonderful to work with, but its not problem-free. Curves are always problematic and small elements of decoration take some working out. But this is not a scale model. Its a representation of the mill. I like to think of it more as a portrait, created with love and respect for the building, rather than a slavish reproduction.

Michael and Tony, who work on the project every Tuesday evening, are not using customised bricks or any special techniques but, for them, that only adds to the challenge. There will be no glue or inner framework holding their final creation together even the Dean Clough chimney with its famous corona will be freestanding. But they are phlegmatic when it comes to any potential mishaps.

No problem, said Michael when confronted with the idea of someone dropping the model and destroying its 2.3-metre high chimney. Its Lego. Well just stick is back together again.

Both men have had a passion for plastic bricks since childhood. Perhaps inevitably, they shied away from it during their teenage years, but they returned with gusto and more disposable income later in life.

There were four kids in my family so we had boxes and boxes of Lego, said Tony. This was the late Sixties though, so it was just bricks and windows, nothing fancy. I was hooked from the start and built all the things boys love to build: battleships, battering rams, guns.

I suppose I returned to Lego as an adult on something of a whim. I had to spend some time off work and it seemed the perfect opportunity to revisit my childhood hobby particularly as the sets were so much better. I thought I was the only one, but by the late Nineties people were starting to go online and talk about their interest in Lego. There is a very healthy adult market for it.

Michael and Tony both particularly enjoy the architectural side of their hobby, so the Dean Clough project was an absolute godsend.

Its an incredible opportunity for us to express our creativity in a medium we are both drawn to, said Tony. Weve completed three buildings so far and, I have to say, its already stunning.

Video of the Dean Clough Mill Lego recreation

The print version of this article appeared in the March 2012 issue of Yorkshire Life

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