Whitchurch Silk Mill
Sue Tapliss - General Manager
Plans to conserve Whitchurch Silk Mill and its
historic machinery have received initial support
from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help get the
project off the ground.
Whitchurch Silk Mill Trust has been awarded £123,300
from the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop more
detailed plans and prepare a full grant application
for its Preserving the Fabric project.
The Grade II* listed Silk Mill will be conserved
under the plans, with accessibility improved for
visitors. Its historic textile machinery will be
restored, enabling the Mill to demonstrate silk
making on a daily basis.
Claire Isbester, Chairman of Whitchurch Silk Mill
Trust, 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"
Included in the project will be a refurbished
entrance building, welcoming special exhibition and
meeting areas, and new displays telling the
fascinating story of the Mill, of silk and silk
weaving, and of water power. The café and shop will
be combined on the banks of the River Test and the
grounds will be improved to encourage chalk stream
wildlife. The funding will allow also the Mill to
employ apprentices, who will be given formal
training in heritage skills, and volunteers will be
given training so they can help care for the
machinery and engage with visitors.
At the moment we have only one weaver who knows how
to use all the historic machinery, apprentices will
ensure these skills are passed onto the next
generation and we can continue weaving into the next
The Mill will apply for a second round of HLF
funding in 2016 and, if successful, building work is
scheduled for 2017 and the new-look Mill will be
launched in 2018.
Explaining the importance of the HLF support, Stuart
McLeod, Head of HLF South East, said:, "The
Preserving the Fabric project plans will enable the
team at the Mill to achieve their vision to
transform Whitchurch Silk Mill into a
self-sustaining, living, industrial heritage site.
We're really pleased to be giving them the green
light and look forward to seeing the project
progress over the coming months.
Lottery Fund Update
Things have moved fast since the Heritage Lottery
Fund granted us initial funding and a conditional
promise of full funding of our plans for preserving
and developing the Mill. We’re currently
interviewing consultants interested in project
managing the development plans and for managing our
audience development plans.
New Book about the Social History of the Mill
Staff member, Jackie Browne has written a book about
the social history of the Mill. It’s being
published this week and is available from the Mill
“Winders, Piecers, Warpers and Weavers”; The Story
of Whitchurch Silk Mill”
traces the 200 year history of the Mill, telling the
story of the owners, the customers and the changing
circumstances of the many hands who, over the years,
have woven their names into the Mill’s story and
contains previously unknown material.
Jackie began her research for the book in 2009,
shortly after she began working at the Mill. Having
discovered that much of the formal history had been
lost in a fire, she set out to uncover what she
could of the missing story.
Jackie is generously donating profits from the book
to the Mill.