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Great days out for all the family at Stanley Mills

27 August 2009


A packed programme of fun, family events is currently underway at one of the country’s most outstanding and stimulating new visitor experiences: the historic Stanley Mills complex on the banks of the River Tay.

Created just a year ago following a £4 million regeneration of Britain’s finest surviving early cotton mills, this ‘must-see’ heritage attraction offers a engaging insight into Scotland’s industrial and social heritage and the history of the local area.

Specially designed to bring the past of the 18th century complex to life and provide both children and adults with a ‘hands on’ opportunity to have fun learning about the mills’ history, the interactive visitor experience incorporates a captivating blend of working machinery, artefacts, exhibits, audio visual displays, and sound recordings to take visitors back to the days when Stanley Mills was the thriving heart of the community and a vital part of the local and national economy.

Stanley Mills therefore offers a great day out for all the family at any time of the year, and special events at this exciting and original attraction provide even greater value for an enjoyable and fascinating outing.  

Recent events have included a ‘Through The Eyes of A Child’ tour which took place last Saturday (22nd August).  This highlighted the key role that girls and boys from the local community played in the workings of the mills.  Visitors of all ages were shown just how important the nimble fingers of children were to keep the huge machinery working, and what life was like for very young mill workers.  And on Sunday 23rd August, an artefact store open day provided visitors with an opportunity to see some historic items and memorabilia not normally on display to the public.

This week, on Tuesday and Thursday, another tour, ‘A Way With Water’ looked at how the mighty power of the River Tay - Scotland’s fastest flowing river - was harnessed and channelled through a 244 meter tunnel and then a lade, as well as the different ways in which power can be extracted from rushing water.

And this weekend, on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th August from 11am to 3pm,  a special re-enactment event, ‘An Inspector Calls’, will give visitors a chance to find out all about the factory inspection of 1833 which investigated the working conditions for children.

Other forthcoming special events at Stanley Mills include ‘The Big Sing’ in September, and during the October school holidays Mums and Dads looking for ways of keeping their kids amused can bring them along to a series of Family workshops.  Details of dates and times of these events will be publicised shortly.

Stanley Mills Visitor Services Manager Kaye Finlay said: “We’ve so much to see and do here for visitors of all ages, and our special events are proving really popular with both adults and children.  They not only provide extra entertainment but also offer added value for a really interesting and fun family day out.

“Visitors who sign up for membership of either Stanley’s Club or Historic Scotland can take advantage of free entry. Stanley’s Club is great for local people, enabling them unlimited year-round admission for just £9. And Historic Scotland membership can cost as little as under £6.16 a month for free access to all Historic Scotland attractions throughout the country, so it’s excellent value.”

Notes for editors

  • Stanley Mills, an internationally important complex of former water-powered cotton mills is located on the Tay, seven miles north of Perth.  The buildings date back to 1786 and operated for 200 years before closing in the 1980s. The Bell Mill at Stanley Mills was designed by Sir Richard Arkwright and is the best of his mills to survive anywhere.

  • The buildings are Category A-listed and have been in the care of Historic Scotland since 1995. A £4 million regeneration scheme to conserve the historic buildings on the site and provide a mixed-use development that is sensitive to its historic importance culminated in the opening last year of the complex as an exciting new visitor experience with education and community facilities.   

  • The regeneration scheme not only secured the future of Stanley Mills but enabled it to once again play a vital role in the local and wider community. Key phases of the project involved the restoration of the lades and conservation of the historic buildings fit out, furnish and decorate the buildings. The East Mill and most of Mid Mill have been converted into flats and townhouses by the Phoenix Trust, completed in 2000.

  • The Bell and Mid Mill are open to visitors and are available for educational and pre-booked groups.

  • A large education centre, located on two floors, offers facilities for school groups as well as the opportunity for use by the local community. A package of education activities has been developed to tie in with the National Curriculum for 9-14 year olds.  

  • The interactive visitor experience comprises a series of exhibits, displays, images and historical artefacts which tell the story of the Stanley Mills and explore the broader themes of power, people, place and products. Old carding machines, restored to working standard, are on show and visitors  have the chance to try out scale model water wheels to harness the power of rushing water. The centre also lets visitors get a sense of the noise, heat and smell of life on the factory floor as the machines churned out products, like webbing, for export throughout the British Empire and beyond.  

  • 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. For further details visit:

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

For further information

Rebecca Hamilton
Marketing and Media Manager
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8685 / 07788 923871