Whitchurch Silk Mill in Hampshire has received a confirmed grant of £1.7m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the Preserving the Fabric project, it was announced today. The project aims to regenerate the Grade II* listed Georgian gem - the only working silk mill in Britain open to the public – and establish its financial sustainability.
Thanks to National Lottery players, the project will see urgent repairs to the Mill's bell tower, roof and wheelhouse and essential conservation to the late 19th and early 20th century winding, warping and weaving machinery carried out, so that the Mill can continue to weave silk. An educational programme and new exhibition and learning spaces are also planned to make the building more welcoming to the visiting public.
The building will also be made accessible to all by installing a lift to the middle and top floors. The shop building adjacent to the Mill will also be extended to relocate the café at street level to make the most of passing trade, while a new generation of weavers and tacklers will be trained to ensure the skills necessary to operate this working mill survive.
Whitchurch Silk Mill is a Grade II* listed textile mill built in 1815 on the River Test in the small Hampshire town of Whitchurch. It was in continuous use until 1985, when it was saved from inappropriate development and refurbished. It opened to the public in 1990 under the management of Whitchurch Silk Mill Trust. It is only one of four working silk mills in the country and the only one open to visitors, who can see silk being woven on historic machinery.
Sue Tapliss, Mill Director said, "We're delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support. The 200-year-old building will be conserved under the plans, with access improved for visitors. It's great to know that we are a step closer to preserving the Mill for another two hundred years"
Stuart McLeod, Head of HLF South East said: "Thanks to National Lottery players, this fascinating story of silk weaving and water power on the banks of the River Test in Hampshire will be brought to life and preserved for all. Now, the team at the Mill will be able to achieve their vision to transform Whitchurch Silk Mill into a self-sustaining, living, industrial heritage site that weaves silk and enthrals everyone who walks through its doors. We are delighted to support this worthwhile project."
Notes to editors
About the Heritage Lottery Fund
Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk @heritagelottery
About Whitchurch Silk Mill
Whitchurch Silk Mill is a Grade II* listed textile mill built in 1815 on the River Test in the small Hampshire town of Whitchurch. It was in continuous use until 1985, when it was saved from inappropriate development and refurbished. It opened to the public in 1990 under the management of Whitchurch Silk Mill Trust. At first the machinery was in daily use producing special orders of cloth for interior designers and for one customer who took 80% of our output, but these market opportunities are no longer available. Annual visitor numbers in the early years were around 16,000 but declined due to a lack of investment in marketing and customer care. In 2012 the Mill's governance and management were renewed and a long term vision was defined. Preserving the Fabric was initiated to safeguard the Mill's future. www.whitchurchsilkmill.org.uk @whitchurchmill
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