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Innovation Meets Historical Heritage at Vale Mills

Our innovative high performance geogrids are manufactured in an unexpected and fascinating industrial facility

Our UK subsidiary company Linear Composites Ltd is at the forefront in the design, development and manufacture of high performance, reinforced plastic composites. Curiously, our most innovative geosynthetic products are manufactured in a late 1700’s mill in Oakworth, West Yorkshire; a fascinating industrial heritage site, surrounded by the outstanding and unspoilt natural beauty of the Brontë Country.

Step back in time and board a steam train running through the beautiful Brontë Country. The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway heritage line, made famous by the 1970 film version of Edith Nesbit’s story “The Railway Children”, will take you for a five mile journey through the breathtaking countryside immortalised by the Brontë sisters. The steam train will wind its way up and down the valley until it reaches the Edwardian Oakworth station, which is still lit by lamps and heated by coal fires in winter.

This picturesque journey is also a powerful reminder of our industrial heritage. The railway line used to connect the local mills to their distribution network and contributed to the development of the main local industry, which was predominantly based on the production of textiles. When the line was inaugurated in 1867, with the opening of Oakworth railway station in close proximity to Vale Mills, the mill had already been operative for over 80 years. It had been built along the Worth River in 1785 and was originally a cotton spinning mill powered by a water wheel.

In the mid-1800’s, Vale Mills was transformed from a small operation to a more substantial enterprise, which remained broadly unchanged until the 1960s. It was then, following the decline of the textile industry in the UK, that all traditional textile production ceased at Vale Mills. In 1969, Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), the major synthetic fibre producer at the time in the UK, established a manufacturing unit in the mill to develop innovative textile reinforced plastic composite materials through its subsidiary Linear Composites Ltd, which has become a world leader and was acquired by Maccaferri in 2006.

Our complete range of BBA certified geogrids, including ParaLink®, ParaGrid®, ParaDrain® and ParaWeb®, are manufactured at Vale Mills. These “Para” products are strips or strip bonded geogrids with a high tenacity polyester core encased in a polyethylene sheath. The polymeric sheath provides a physical and chemical barrier to external environments which pose a threat to product performance and durability. Our “Para” geogrids are amongst the most tried and tested geogrids in the world offering 120 year design life and high performance.

Soil reinforcement is their main area of application: geogrids enable the soil to perform better than it would in its unreinforced state, accommodating greater loads or standing at steeper angles. We use our geogrids to build Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) walls in conjunction with our renowned Terramesh® and Green Terramesh® Systems. These reinforced soil structures are increasing in popularity as an alternative to traditional mass gravity retaining structures such as reinforced concrete and stone masonry walls.

The main factors driving the choice of those innovative structures are their reliability and cost-effectiveness: our range of geogrid reinforcements maximises the opportunity to reuse site-won materials as backfill to the reinforced slope, saving on the export and import of materials from site, embracing sustainability and reducing polluting truck movements. One of the tallest such structures in the world is our 74m high Terramesh® and ParaLink® reinforced soil wall, supporting an airport runway in North Eastern India.

The geogrids produced by Linear Composites are used in over 50 countries across every continent.

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