CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Lancashire Life today CLICK HERE

Charles Hadcock - the internationally-renowned sculptor from Samlesbury

PUBLISHED: 00:00 02 October 2015

Charles Hadcock at Roach Bridge Mill

Charles Hadcock at Roach Bridge Mill


An old Lancashire paper mill is home to one of Britain’s most exciting sculptors, writes Olivia Assheton. Main photography by Kirsty Thompson

Torsion II at Canary Wharf dubbed stairway to the starsTorsion II at Canary Wharf dubbed stairway to the stars

Charles Hadcock’s laid back style and laconic sense of humour belies a powerhouse of hard work, originality and craftsmanship. It’s a drive every bit as forceful as the River Darwen that thunders over the weir beside the old paper mill that forms his base in Samlesbury.

This internationally-renowned sculptor has no fewer than 12 major works dotted around London - truly monumental pieces reflecting his keen interest in geology, engineering and mathematics. They are enriched by references to music and poetry.

One of his most well-known structures – Torsion II – described as a ‘stairway to the stars’ and cast by Coupes Foundry in Higher Walton, near Preston, is on permanent display at Canary Wharf tube station while the iconic Passacaglia, a giant iron edifice, delights visitors to Brighton beach.

After studying fine art in London, Charles moved to Preston in 1999 with his Lancashire-born wife and family but he certainly doesn’t confine himself to sculpture. He is a winner of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion, he sits on the council of the Royal Society of British Sculptors and was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Lancashire in 2014. Charles has also created an environment to help nurture new creative talent.

It’s a mark of his ability that he has exhibited alongside some of the country’s leading artists and sculptors including Anthony Gormley, Damien Hirst, Sir Anthony Caro, Philip King, Bill Woodrow, Nigel Hall and Lynn Chadwick and sells to many well-known international institutions, names and celebrities.

He uses only the best materials for his sculptures in iron, aluminium, bronze and a special nickel bronze alloy that he has created himself that can be patinated and polished. He is constantly improving his techniques in collaboration with his suppliers.

There is often a cross fertilisation between the artist and the engineering world creating a celebration of the ordinary process, craft and manufacturing skill. ‘A company called Centurion in Leyland can do powder coating with a lovely pearlescence – it’s very expensive but worth it,’ he said. ‘The cast aluminium I use is hard anodised in Darwen to withstand conditions on North Sea oil rigs so, like bronze, it will last 1,000 years and not rot away. I like to think of that as a legacy.’

His reputation is such that he no longer accept commissions. ‘I only create works that I want to do. There are too many artistic provisos in modern art commissioning but I continue to collaborate with specific clients who are advised properly by an art consultant or a professional curator.’

Charles creates these wonderful organic, abstract works from start to finish with the help of ‘fantastic’ local craftspeople including GM Technical who make many of his moulds and Summit which does his welding. ‘Why would anyone look anywhere else for technical support when there are such amazing skills and innovation right on the doorstep?’ he asks. Charles will only use Lancashire-based companies for all his back-up including 3 Man Factory in Preston, which is run by UCLAN graduates, for his social media and marketing.

His support for small and specialist local businesses led to him purchasing, in 2001, a run-down Preston building to create ‘The Watermark’ on Ribbleton Lane. An innovative mix of office space and artists’ studios, it was designed as a creative hub and community to incubate a mix of up-and-coming and established designers in the city and was soon followed by ‘The Benchmark’ next door as a base for Lancashire’s creative industries.

Just after moving north, Charles and his wife Camilla re-established Roach Bridge Tissues by the River Darwen at Samlesbury (Camilla’s family owned the mill until the 1980s) and they now print luxury tissue wrapping paper for high street shops plus an impressive customer list including Disney, Fortnum and Mason, Fenwicks and many more. Buy anything small and expensive in this country and the chances are it will be wrapped in Roach Bridge tissue paper.

This is now the only remaining working mill on the River Darwen and the couple have set their sights on developing it further, taking advantage of the infrastructure already in place.

The adjacent weir, which is believed to have been created in the 1770s with Sir Richard Arkwright as its consulting engineer, has been restored as a hydro electricity generation plant which supplies power to the whole complex and allows everything produced on site to have truly green credentials.

Charles, who was born in Derby 50 years ago, has a long-term development plan for the historic mill which includes a multi-occupancy office building and further workshops and industrial units. The most exciting recent creation, though, is the new exhibition space I am talking to Charles in which has been carved out of one level of the old mill building. As well as providing a fantastic showcase for his work, he intends it to be a new facility for Creative Lancashire, including round table discussions described as ‘Conversations in Creativity’ and special events which will include a fashion shoot for UCLAN students.

Hadcock is a passionate national and international ambassador for Lancashire, pointing out that many of the creative Industries are unable to afford London rents now and the big dealers there are struggling.

‘We are only two hours and ten minutes from London and I want people to know that you can have an international art career in Lancashire and be proud of it.’

With over 21,000 people in Lancashire directly employed in the creative industries, and probably the same again associated with them, Creative Lancashire, which is funded by Lancashire County Council, wants to draw attention to the importance of this as an economic driver for the county, bringing together often very small companies to share experiences and benefit from networking. The Board and Council are keen to highlight their sustainability and encourage the business acumen of Creative Industries, making sure they are promoted and rewarded properly for what they do so well.

With Charles Hadcock at the helm, there is a every chance they’ll do just that.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Lancashire Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Lancashire Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Lancashire Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Friday, November 16, 2018

With the West Pennine Moors and the summits of Rivington Pike and Winter Hill right on its doorstp, Bolton has plenty of options for walkers.

Read more
Monday, November 12, 2018

Lytham Hall was the spectacular setting for a glittering weekend of steam engines, tractors, cars and family fun.

Read more

Barrowford is one of Lancashire’s most stylish towns but it also has some quirky tales to tell

Read more

The busy West Lancashire village of Parbold scores highly for natural beauty and community spirit

Read more

The two-and-a-half year initiative to preserve the remains of the copper mines.

Read more
Thursday, November 8, 2018

Books by Lancashire writer Paula Daly are being filmed in the Lakes by the Broadchurch team for a six-part TV drama starring Rochdale’s Anna Friel

Read more
Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Fact and fiction merge to create a tale of murder and kidnap in a novel based on Rufford Old Hall by National Trust volunteer Margaret Lambert

Read more

Liverpool has always buzzed, even in its darker days, but today it’s booming, and underpinning the resurgence are institutions with roots deep in the Merseyside soil

Read more
Friday, November 2, 2018

With carpets of damp fallen leaves and rotting deadwood covering woodlands, autumn is the time when fungi of all shapes and sizes thrive. The Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Molly Toal explores the mushroom kingdom.

Read more
Thursday, November 1, 2018

An ancient system for training troops in the use of the longbow has been revived in Lancashire

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

John Lenehan grabs his broomstick and takes us on a journey through some of Lancashire’s loveliest countryside.

Read more
Ribble Valley Walks Pendle Hill
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Canicross is one of the fastest growing sports and it has arrived in the Lake District. Irene Rothery reports

Read more
Dogs Lake District Walks

Having 10,000 students on the doorstep is helping this West Lancashire town centre to thrive

Read more

In 1972, a hoard of ancient silver coins was discovered in Prestwich. These days, they’re hoping to strike gold with an unbeatable mix of community, creativity and independent shops but for one craftsperson, silver is still the way to go.

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Property Search