New partnership to explore the future of historic mills in Lancashire

Monday, November 26, 2018

A partnership led by Lancashire County Council and the National Trust is to examine the future of two of the most important industrial heritage sites in the country - Queen Street Mill in Burnley and Helmshore Mills in Rossendale.

The project will explore and develop ways in which the mills can generate income and minimise costs while also conserving the buildings and collections, and providing public benefit.
The work has been supported with a £99,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project has also received funding from Arts Council England.
The Mills capture a crucial part of the story of Britain's industrial revolution.
Grade I listed Queen Street Mill, which was featured in The King's Speech and earlier this year in Mike Leigh's Peterloo, is the last surviving steam powered weaving mill in the world.
Helmshore Mills, made up of Higher Mill and Whitaker's Mill, are the only mills to still have their original working machinery in situ, with visitors able to see how raw wool and cotton were transformed into yarn ready for cloth to be woven more than a century ago.
Today the county council and the National Trust have announced they have entered into a memorandum of understanding to work together to find solutions for the future of the mills, which were reopened to the public by the council last year after a short period of closure due to budget cuts.
This will enable potential operators or partners, including local community groups and businesses, to understand how they can be part of the future of the mills.
At this stage, the project, which will involve a number of other organisations including the Higher Mill Museum Trust, the National Lottery Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic England and Arts Council England, will not implement any proposals.
Councillor Peter Buckley, Lancashire County Council's cabinet member for community and cultural services, said: "I very much welcome this partnership with the National Trust.
"Both Queen Street Mill and Helmshore Mills are of immense cultural and historical significance and it is important we seize this opportunity to work together to secure their long term futures."
Eleanor Underhill, Assistant Director of the National Trust in the North West, said: “The National Trust has recently secured funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England to undertake a study of the future viability of these mills.
"The mills are a crucial part of Lancashire’s heritage and Britain’s industrial revolution. As a charity that cares for special places, we want to play our part in helping more special places deliver public benefit for all.”
Bernard Rostron, Chairman of the Higher Mill Museum Trust, said: “All my colleagues on the Higher Mill Trust are delighted to learn that the National Trust with its vast experience and knowledge of heritage conservation have agreed to work with us and the county council in finding a way to save this historic site.
"There are very many complicated factors to take into account, but with an organisation of this stature and influence giving its support, we are confident that a way forward can be found.
"The Higher Mill Trust exist primarily to ensure that this ancient mill survives, but during the recent period of anxious anticipation, it has not been an easy role to play. We are a small group and fully aware that we are not geared up to 'go it alone', so the announcement of this support is a tremendous boost.”

Notes for Editors:

About National Trust
The National Trust is a conservation charity founded in 1895 by three people who saw the importance of our nation’s heritage and open spaces, and wanted to preserve them for everyone to enjoy. More than 120 years later, these values are still at the heart of everything the charity does.

Entirely independent of Government, the National Trust looks after more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 780 miles of coastline and hundreds of special places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

More than 26 million people visit every year, and together with 5.2 million members and over 61,000 volunteers, they help to support the charity in its work to care for special places for ever, for everyone.

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About the Higher Mill Trust
Although the story of cotton is synonymous with Lancashire, Higher Mill which is the older part of the historic Helmshore complex is unique in having been a woollen mill throughout its whole working life. It was built by the Turner family in 1789, the year of the ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’ and Washington becoming America’s first President.
When Higher Mill came to the end of its working life a small Trust was formed to acquire and save it from re-development. They were successful in taking over ownership and, with support from Lancashire CC, opened it to pre-booked parties. The adjoining cotton factory closed in 1968 and the two mills jointly became The Museum of the Lancashire Textile Industry later to be re-named Helmshore Mills Textile Museums.
Higher Mill is best known for its great waterwheel and ancient fulling stock which still work in the location for which they were designed and built.
The Higher Mill Trust still exists today to conserve, protect and open the old mill to the public, and to tell the story of the Lancashire Woollen industry’s place alongside cotton. The Trust works closely with the Lancashire County Council Museum Service.

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. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLottery and #HLFsupported.

About Arts Council England
Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.
About Historic England
We are Historic England the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. We protect, champion and save the places that define who we are where we’ve come from as a nation. We care passionately about the stories they tell, the ideas they represent and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists we share our passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all.

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