Reprinted from Newsletter 103, dated 2002 April

Razing of Morlands ruins to start at last, but Hepworth “gallery” will survive

Jim Nagel

A disused factory interior. The ceiling rises in convex waves to the right, then drops steeply as almost-vertical glass windows on the right. A single thick pipe protrudes from these windows, running at at angle down into the space. Girders run horizontally at intervals, and wires run from these to the ceiling. A structural pillar descends to an otherwise-empty floor. In the background is a long white wall with many dark squares, which could be windows to the exterior or another room.
The scalloped roof and open floor of Block O: could we imagine it as an art gallery? Jack Hepworth, its architect in 1961 was later our treasurer.

The eyesore ruins of the old Morland and Baily tanneries are at last to be pulled down. A half-dozen buildings could be worth re-using; the rest of the 45 acres will be dismantled and materials reclaimed where possible.

However, visitors are unlikely to see any visible change at the disgraceful southern gate to Glastonbury before September.

The few buildings that could find a new life are the red brick houses along Beckery Old Road, the listed Mill Cottage at the Street end of the site, the Hepworth building, the Baily’s stone buildings and chimney, the caretaker’s cottage, the Bauer building and the red brick buildings at the south end of the site. They will be examined in detail and then demolition will start across the rest of the site.

“Morlands will be a sustainable development and this begins with clearing the site,” said Colin Molton, the development director at the Southwest RDA (Regional Development Agency). “Before demolition we will first salvage all materials suitable for future use, as we have done with other sites owned by the agency.” He said the RDA is “committed to sustainability principles promoted by the government in the Urban White Paper and also by the agency in our own Regional Strategy.”

This next stage of work was announced in March after a meeting of the Morlands Partnership Advisory Group. Among its members are Alan Gloak, John Brunsdon, Evelyn Rideout and Mary Parker from Glastonbury.

Mendip council has owned 9 acres nearest the town since 1995, and last spring the RDA bought the main 31 acres from a private developer in London. The last tannery closed 20 years ago.

An unsafe wall was taken down in late March — part of one of the Baily’s buildings fronting Beckery Old Road which will not be demolished. The removed stone has been stored on site for future use.

Early public consultation around the site is continuing. Anyone interested in expressing opinions should contact Jeff Bishop, BDOR Ltd, Freepost SWB 2019; phone (0117) 910 5200; email

The Partnership Advisory Board is made up of the following individuals: