Onlookers witnessed the end of an era as the chimney of a historic Barnoldswick mill was demolished on Sunday.

Demolition experts brought down the chimney of Fernbank Mill, and the occasion was a sad one for mill owner John Clark.

Mr Clark, who lives at Brogden Lane, Barnoldswick, said: “It was a very sad day for everyone, especially my wife Joan, whose grandfather built the mill in 1913.”

The chimney, which was built in 1914, was the last major structure at the site to undergo demolition.

Mr Clark, 85, said his wife’s grandfather, Hartley Edmondson, was one of the original directors to draw up plans for the mill.

“Hartley paid rent at Carnforth Shed for ten years and then decided to build his own mill, and so Fernbank Shed Company opened for weaving in 1915,” said Mr Clark.

Son-in-law Ted Tillotson eventually took over the business and Mr Clark married his daughter, Joan, in 1954.

When Mr Tillotson died in 1970, Mr Clark took over the running of the mill.

Weaving ceased at the mill in 1980, but since then Mr Clark has had several other tenants, most recently cycle parts manufacture Hope Technology and electrical retailer Harry Garlick.

Mr Clark said: “We were left with having to pay rates of £50,000 a year, so there was no alternative but to pull it down.”

But demolishing the chimney was a feat in itself, according to Mr Clark.

“They knock the bricks out and put in wood supports halfway around the chimney,” said Mr Clark. “You then burn down all of the wood and the chimney falls in the direction of the props.”

Steeplejack John Warburton of Blackburn, who carried out the demolition, also painted a plaster whitewash on the side of the chimney and shook up a bottle of beer and placed it into brickwork.

“When the plaster starts to crack and the bottle breaks, the chimney starts to collapse,” said Mr Clark, adding: “I thought it was a very interesting use for beer.”

Footage of the final moments of the Fernbank Mill chimney was also caught on camera.

Barnoldswick-based media company The Reverb Factory documented the felling of the chimney.

A 15-minute film, featuring interviews with those involved and footage of the chimney’s final moments, will be shown as a newsreel at Barnoldswick’s Centre Screen Cinema later this month.

Bryan Fieldhouse, from The Reverb Factory, said: “The film documents a rare and moving event. It’s an incredible sight and the creaks and groans of the chimney’s death throes provide an eerie sound track. It’ll be a powerful experience to witness this with the big screen and sound system at the cinema.”

The first chance to see the film will be at 2pm on tomorrow, with further screenings before films at 5pm and 7pm and at 3pm and 7pm on Saturday and at 7pm on Sunday.

l Mr Clark has applied for planning permission to infill the redundant mill lodge reservoir.