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New Boss Takes Charge At Stanley Mills

13 December 2007

Kaye Finlay has set aside her dancing shoes to take on a new challenge as manager of a major Scottish visitor attraction. The 34-year-old from Stirlingshire is now in charge of Stanley Mills visitor centre which is due to open to the public at Easter 2008.

For the past six years, she has been working for Historic Scotland at Stirling Castle but also ran her own dance company. The new post will take up all her time while making excellent use of her enthusiasm and experience of working with the community.

Ms Finlay said: “It’s amazing to be involved right from the beginning and at such a brilliant site.

“I was absolutely delighted to be offered this opportunity and have been reading everything I can about Scotland’s industrial heritage ever since – it’s really got me gripped.

“There will be a lot to do in the first little while to get the visitor centre up and running but my aim is to be very community-focused.

“I want to work with local people to develop projects that they want to do as well as making sure that visitors from the rest of Scotland, and the world, have a great time when they come to Stanley Mills.”

Even though Ms Finlay has now put her company, Crash, Bang, Wallop, into new hands there is every chance that dance might feature in future activities.

“I have been teaching dance since I was 16 and have worked with schools and community groups all round the Falkirk area.

“It’s a great way to allow people to express themselves and may well come in useful for community projects,” she says.

Ms Finlay, a former student of Denny High School, will work closely with the site’s education officer Fiona Davidson. While at Stirling she was involved in a scheme which saw local schoolchildren translate written foreign language tours of the castle for young visitors from Germany and France. She is particularly interested in the working lives of the many generations of employees at the water mill complex on the banks of the river Tay.

The first cotton mill opened at the site in the late 18th century and production was the first place in Scotland to use the new ‘factory system’ which went on to revolutionise the economies of the western world. Many of the first workers were Gaelic-speakers coming from small farms in the Perthshire glens who may never have seen such powerful and advanced machinery before.

Notes for editors
·Stanley Mills is seven miles north of Perth. The former water mill complex harnessed the power of the River Tay for cotton spinning. The first mill was built in 1786 and the last commercial operations ended as recently as 1989.

·Ms Finlay’s post is a one-year secondment from Stirling Castle.

·Parts have been transformed into high quality housing. The new visitor centre will make it an important tourist attraction and a centre for community activity.

·The visitor centre includes a state-of-the-art education area over two floors which has been designed to allow schools and educational groups to carry out a wide variety of study projects.

·In 1995 Stanley Mills was placed in the care of Historic Scotland which regards the buildings as of such national and international importance that they have a grade A listing to protect them from unwanted change.

·The Stanley Mills project has involved:

- Conservation of Arkwright’s Bell Mill. This started in 1996, helped by a £1.4 million Heritage Lottery Grant to meet part of the £2.2 million cost. In 1998 the bell was restored to the tower to mark the completion of this stage of work.
- Repairing the fire damaged North Range.
- Redevelopment of the East Mill and the Mid Mill into flats and townhouses by the Phoenix Trust.
- Repairing the mill lades. This was made possible through a generous grant from the Gannochy Trust, and a contribution from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
- In May 1998, a further grant of £5 million was awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop public access to the site and provide visitor facilities.

·The visitor centre will be in the Bell Mill and part of the Mid Mill. It will feature exhibits and displays, many interactive and using the latest technology, to tell the story of the mills. These will include demonstrations of how water mills work as well as sound – and smell – effects to give a sense of what conditions were like. Objects and equipment from the mills will be on display.

·Historic Scotland has 345 outstanding historic properties and sites in its care. These include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country, including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae.

·Historic Scotland’s Mission is to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.

For further information

Matthew Shelley
Historic Scotland
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8734