The long-term future of Whitchurch’s most famous building has been secured, thanks to the National Lottery.
Staff marked Whitchurch Silk Mill’s 200-year anniversary in October 2015 by launching an appeal to regenerate the grade-II listed building in 2017.
A total of just under £2million was targeted by the Preserving the Fabric project to help restore the building’s historic textile equipment to its former state.
And a massive leap has now been taken towards this mark, after Britain’s only working silk mill open to members of the public received a confirmed grant of £1.7m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The funding will ensure urgent repairs are made to the mill’s bell tower, roof, and wheelhouse, as well as conservation work to the 19th century winding, warping, and weaving machinery, so that silk can continue to be weaved on site.
A lift to the middle and top floors will also be installed to make it accessible to all, the shop will be extended, and new weavers and tacklers will be trained to operate the working mill in the future.
Mill director Sue Tapliss said: “We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support.
“The 200-year-old building will be conserved under the plans, with access improved for visitors.
“It’s great to know that we are a step closer to preserving the mill for another 200 years”
Whitchurch Silk Mill, in Winchester Street, was saved from inappropriate development and refurbished in 1985, before then being opened to the public five years later.
The latest lottery funding for the Preserving the Fabric Project follows the donation of £100,000 from Greenham Common Trust in July.
Head of HLF south east, Stuart McLeod, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, this fascinating story of silk weaving and water power on the banks of the River Test will be brought to life and preserved for all.
“Now, the team at the Mill will be able to achieve their vision to transform Whitchurch Silk Mill into a self-sustaining, living, industrial heritage site that weaves silk and enthralls everyone who walks through its doors.
“We are delighted to support this worthwhile project.”