Stanley Mills Opens for business
13 March 2008
Scotland’s newest visitor attraction opens its doors to the public on Friday 21 March. An ambitious £4.6 million project to breathe new life into the Stanley Mills complex, on the banks of the River Tay, is now complete. The Bell Mill and Mid Mill have been converted into a new visitor attraction and education centre that examine the history of the people, products and power of the mills. This exciting new development features displays, interactives, exhibits and video footage that unravel an important part of Scotland’s industrial heritage.
With sights and sounds the visitor is taken on a journey where they are first introduced to the founding fathers of Stanley Mills. At the forefront of the Industrial Revolution, the development of the mills and the impact on the local area is revealed with stories of prosperity and later decline. The physical working of the mills, and the processes involved, is balanced with human stories - the lives of the workers and their families - that bring the imposing building to life.
Hands-on science and technology interactives allow visitors to get to the heart of Stanley Mills. They will have the chance to discover if a mill they have created would survive, uncover the role children played and how their nimble fingers were vital to the running of the machines, and even find out how the mill harnessed the power of the rushing water from the River Tay to drive the cotton-spinning machines.
One of the exhibition rooms features specially-commissioned poetry from Edinburgh-based poet Aonghas MacNeacail which tells the story of 18th-century farm workers who travelled down through the Perthshire glens to join the Industrial Revolution. The visitor is led through the gallery comprising striking glass panels that are brought to life by English and Gaelic voiceovers setting scenes of the past.
Peter Bromley, Director of Properties in Care at Historic Scotland, said;
“Historic Scotland has been working on the Stanley Mills project since the mills came into our care in 1995: there are so many people that have contributed to the development and it’s great to see the visitor attraction now opening to the public. We believe that the visitor centre, and its facilities, will put the mills back at the heart of the community.”
Kaye Finlay, Manager at Stanley Mills, said “Stanley Mills promises to be a great day out for all the family with something for everyone to enjoy. We expect the visitor centre to be popular with locals and help pull in visitors to see everything Perthshire has to offer. We are all looking forward to welcoming everyone and ensuring a fantastic time is had by all.
“Visitors will also have the chance to purchase a special Stanley Mills membership – for only £9 per person annually, people can get unlimited access to the site. We hope that Stanley’s Club will appeal to local residents who can make the most of the facilities on their doorstep.”
This £4.6 million phase of work is part of a much larger regeneration project at Stanley which would not have been possible without contributions from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Gannochy Trust and Scottish Enterprise Tayside. The Heritage Lottery Fund donation assisted with the purchase of the site, feasibility studies, site services and landscaping, restoration of the lades and conservation of the Mill buildings. The Gannochy Trust and Scottish Enterprise contributions was used for lade restoration and landscaping works respectively.
Notes for editors
·Stanley Mills is situated seven miles north of Perth, off the A9. Opening times are 21 March to 30 September 09.30 to 17.30 and 1 to 31 October 09.30 to 16.30. Admission is Adult £5, Child £2.50 and Concessions £3.75. The full address is Stanley Mills, Stanley, Perthshire, PH1 4QE. The phone number is 01738 828 268.
·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 in 1989.
·In 1995 Stanley Mills was placed in the care of Historic Scotland. The buildings are category A listed.
·The project to create a visitor centre has involved keeping and emphasising many of the original architectural features. The main contractors in this project were Mansell.
·The Stanley Mills project has involved:
- External 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 generous grants from the Gannochy Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
- In May 1998, a further grant of £5.1 million was awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop public access to the site and provide visitor facilities.
·Historic Scotland has worked with a number of groups, including the West Stormont Local History Society, to gather and conserve information and items associated with the mills. Memories of the workers have also been collected in an oral history project.
·The visitor centre now includes an education area which has been designed to allow schools and educational groups to carry out a wide variety of study projects linked to the Curriculum for Excellence.
·There is a community room, with kitchen facilities, SMART board and lift, that is available for hire.
·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.