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Stanley Mills Celebrates First Birthday with International Award

1 May 2009

The project to save and conserve Stanley Mills, which was led by Historic Scotland, has won a prestigious international award for excellence.

The 2009 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra award will be shared between Historic Scotland and heritage-led regeneration specialists, The Prince’s Regeneration Trust.

Both played critical roles in securing a future for the former water-powered cotton mill complex on the river Tay, near Perth.

News of the accolade came as the visitor centre, which now occupies Sir Richard Arkwright’s Bell Mill, marked its first birthday.

The award will be presented at the annual conference in June of Europa Nostra, an international body representing over 250 organisations in 45 countries supporting national and international campaigns for the rescue and preservation of Europe’s cultural heritage.

The mills went out of production in 1989, fell into a dilapidated state and faced demolition until bought by Historic Scotland in 1995, and rescued with the help of The Prince’s Regeneration Trust.

With considerable financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the partners oversaw the project to revive the mills and put them back at the heart of the community.

The most historically significant areas, some dating to the 18th century, have been turned into a £4.7 million visitor and education centre by Historic Scotland.

Chris Watkins, Historic Scotland head of major projects, said: “The award is fantastic news marking out the regeneration of Stanley Mills as among the finest projects of its kind in the whole of Europe.  It is also a superb example of what can be achieved through close partnership working.

“Even better is that award has coincided with the first birthday of the opening of Historic Scotland’s Stanley Mills visitor and education centre.

“The project has turned a dilapidated site into one of Scotland’s most interesting and attractive early industrial complexes.

”Not only have the buildings been conserved and adapted to new uses, but the lades and beautiful riverside setting have been restored and opened to the public.

“Our hope is that this prestigious award will help raise people’s awareness of the many benefits to be gained from the careful conservation of our heritage and attract them to visit Stanley to learn more about Scotland’s rich industrial past.”

The visitor centre incorporates part of the Mid Mill and the entire Bell Mill, created in 1786 by Sir Richard Arkwright and the best-preserved cotton spinning mill directly associated with the inventor of the factory system.

In 1997, The Prince’s Regeneration Trust agreed to develop rescue proposals for the derelict Mid and East Mills, the two largest buildings on the site.

The Trust worked hard to restore the buildings to their former splendour and to find for them a new viable use.

A combination of public consultation and planning days led to a decision to convert the buildings to residential use.

The Mid Mill was eventually converted into five townhouses and the East Mill into 30 apartments.

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive, said The Prince’s Regeneration Trust, is delighted to be sharing the award with Historic Scotland:

“The award shows that by working together with interested parties we can successfully find new viable uses for historic buildings that currently lie empty and redundant across Scotland and the UK.

“Conserving our heritage is important, but by recycling historic buildings like Stanley Mills we can also achieve environmental benefits and deliver economic and social support to our local communities.”

The award will be presented at the Europa Nostra Annual Congress in Taormina, Sicily in early June

Notes for editors

  • In 1995 Stanley Mills was purchased by Historic Scotland with financial assistance from the HLF and other funding bodies. The buildings are category A listed.

  • The design work for the entire complex was undertaken by LDN Architects.

  • Historic Scotland carried out the conservation of the Bell Mill, lade system, and ancillary buildings and was responsible for the landscaping.

  • The Bell Mill and part of Mid Mill now form a visitor attraction which tells the story of Stanley Mills and provides an education centre and a venue for community use. The HLF provided £2.1 million of the £4.7 million cost of this latest phase.

  • 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 and the interpretation designs undertaken by Campbell and Co.

  • Historic Scotland has worked with a number of local groups and former workers to gather information and conserve items associated with the mills. Memories of the workers have also been collected in an oral history project.

  • The visitor centre 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.  

  • The former water mill complex harnessed the power of the River Tay for cotton spinning. The first mill was built in 1786.

  • Stanley Mills visitor centre has been assessed as a VisitScotland five-star attraction and is seven miles north of Perth, off the A9. Postcode: PH1 4QE. Tel: 01738 828 268. It is open from April to September. Tickets are £5 for adults, £2.50 for children and £3.75 for concessions.

About The Prince’s Regeneration Trust

The Prince’s Regeneration Trust’s projects enable under used or redundant buildings to perform a new function, unlocking a regeneration of the wider community. The Trust works across the United Kingdom sharing learning and experience through its projects.


  • Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting the 2009 Year of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations.

For further information


Rebecca Hamilton
Marketing and Media Manager
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8685 / 07788 923871
rebecca.hamilton@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

Marcus Stanton
The Prince's Regeneration Trust
020 8540 5396