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Former cotton mill recognised for excellence at National Heritage Awards

15 February 2010

Stanley Mills receives Sandford Award for Excellence from The Earl of Wessex

A former cotton mill, which played a key role in Scotland’s Industrial Revolution, has been recognised for educational excellence in its first year of opening as a visitor attraction.

Stanley Mills in Perthshire has been awarded a Sandford Award for Heritage Education- the only independent benchmarking of educational excellence in the heritage sector in the UK. More than 250 sites – including museums, galleries, country houses and gardens have been recipients of the award since the scheme began in 1978.

The visitor attraction, which is run by Historic Scotland, includes a hi-tech visitor experience which tells the story of the mill and those who worked there. The site is home to The Bell Mill – one of the oldest surviving factories in the world, and Stanley Village, built in the 1780’s to provide accommodation for mill workers.  

Minister for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop said;

“I’d like to commend the Stanley Mills team on receiving this award, as well as the other sites around Scotland who have been recognised.

“Encouraging young people to get involved in the past and its role in the development of contemporary Scotland is key to preserving and passing on our heritage and awards like these pay tribute to the fantastic work that is being carried out to help achieve this.”

The team from Stanley joined other recipients from across the UK to receive their award from His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex at a ceremony at Windsor Castle today (Monday 15th February).

Sue Mitchell, Head of Education for Historic Scotland said;

“It has been a real joy to be able to breathe new life into Stanley, a site which played such a key role in Scotland’s industrial past.

“One of our main objectives is to engage schools and provide a range of active learning opportunities that allow them to experience first hand what life was like for mill workers from generation to generation and to explore the science behind water power technology.

“But we’ve also worked hard to develop interactive exhibits for all visitors that uniquely tell the story of Stanley, and we are delighted to accept this award from The Earl of Wessex on behalf of the awards committee.”

The Sandford Awards, which are run by the Heritage Education Trust in partnership with Bishop Grosseteste University College Lincoln, look at areas such as promoting local and national heritage, partnership working and links to the curriculum, and include site visits to experience first hand the educational programmes on offer at sites.

Gareth Fitzpatrick, Lead Judge said;

“This new inclusion in Historic Scotland’s Learning Service is to be applauded for the depth and care which have gone into the development of meaningful, innovative and fun programmes which bring a splendid, if empty former cotton mill alive for children.

“Through drama, creative thinking and adherence to the Curriculum for Excellence, the small dedicated team at Stanley Mills has achieved a degree of quality, helpfulness and desirability that teachers seek, which many longer established sites still fail to reach.”

Stanley Mills is open to visitors throughout the year. For opening times please visit

Notes for editors

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.

For further information

Iona Matheson
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8703 or 07827 956 858