Queens Mill Burnley

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Sue
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Queens Mill Burnley

Post by Sue » 06 Nov 2016, 09:40

I just signed the petition, "Lancashire County council: Saving the last steam powered mill in the world."

I think this is important. Will you sign it too?

Here's the link:

https://www.change.org/p/lancashire-cou ... -the-world
If you keep searching you will find it

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Wendyf
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Re: Queens Mill Burnley

Post by Wendyf » 06 Nov 2016, 10:16

Done.

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Re: Queens Mill Burnley

Post by Sue » 06 Nov 2016, 11:39

Thanks Wendy, please spread the word
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chinatyke
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Re: Queens Mill Burnley

Post by chinatyke » 06 Nov 2016, 11:45

From your link it seems there is a £2,500,000 saving to be made. Seems an awful lot of money to run one shed. I thought if it was listed that meant it was also protected?

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Re: Queens Mill Burnley

Post by Sue » 06 Nov 2016, 11:52

Whatever the savings it is still due to be closed, it may not be dismantled but it will not be maintained or available to see as far as I am aware. There was an article about this on the local TV news this week.
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Re: Queens Mill Burnley

Post by Sue » 06 Nov 2016, 11:54

The other mill affected is Helmsore Textile Mill which closed a few weeks ago.
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Re: Queens Mill Burnley

Post by Tripps » 06 Nov 2016, 12:00

China, I think he corrects that figure lower down in the posting, to 0.16% or £250,000 p.a.
Still a chunk of money.
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Re: Queens Mill Burnley

Post by plaques » 06 Nov 2016, 12:40

chinatyke wrote: I thought if it was listed that meant it was also protected?
Easy to get round these restrictions. Just neglect all repairs and maintenance. Wait until it gets to a point of being dangerous and then pull it down. Finally sell it of for house building QED.

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Re: Queens Mill Burnley

Post by Gloria » 06 Nov 2016, 13:22

Done.
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Re: Queens Mill Burnley

Post by Moh » 06 Nov 2016, 13:27

Done. It is just up the road from us and has been worked by local people since it was built. They have lost the cotton mills and it is needed to show young generations how their ancestors lived and worked.
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Re: Queens Mill Burnley

Post by chinatyke » 06 Nov 2016, 15:18

It's part of a bye-gone era. Very interesting and fascinating machinery but does it need to be retained as a working mill? Isn't there a steam engine in the Science Museum in London, a fitting place for it? I'm sure it wouldn't cost £250,000 to set up a Lancashire loom in the museum if they haven't already got one.

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Re: Queens Mill Burnley

Post by Sue » 06 Nov 2016, 22:50

It is used for educational purposes including school visits. This is Northern heritage, it should be preserved. As a matter of interest their website is showing there has been interest from a new operator with more info to follow.

Here is an extract from their website

The last surviving 19th century steam powered weaving mill – re-live the days when cotton was king and see the magnificent steam engine ‘Peace’, driving over 300 looms in the weaving shed.

• Feel the heat of our Lancashire boilers
• Watch our weavers turn cotton into cloth
• Experience the awesome sounds, sights, and smells of a working mill

Enjoy family events and activities throughout the season, free parking, delicious homemade food at the Tackler’s cafe, and our well-stocked shop where
you can purchase gifts woven in the mill.

Queen Street Mill is a Grade 1 Listed, Schedule Ancient Monument and is Designated as having an Outstanding Collection of National Importance.




Helmshore ill did the same. Both provided an interesting insight into an era that can so easily be forgotten.
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Re: Queens Mill Burnley

Post by Stanley » 07 Nov 2016, 05:07

Done. This has been on the cards for years ever since English Heritage slipped up and saved the wrong mill when they let Jubilee at Padiham be demolished. Helmshore also is a tragedy. Some things are more important than money, it is cultural vandalism and stems directly from the effects of austerity on local councils. Don't forget the libraries which are going as well.....
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Re: Queens Mill Burnley

Post by Stanley » 08 Nov 2016, 07:16

I thought you might like a bit of the inside story about Queen Street Mill. Here's an extract from me memoirs.....

1984 was a year for looking in new directions. Knowing that I was finishing at PHC in September concentrated the mind wonderfully. I tried several avenues before I finally settled down, they were all interesting but for one reason or another didn’t come to anything.

The first was when a mate rang me up and asked me whether I knew that Burnley Council, in partnership with Pennine Heritage, were looking for somebody to manage the conversion of Queen Street Mill at Brierfield into a heritage attraction. I didn’t know it was on offer but got the papers and applied for the job. I was interested in this because it was right up my street. It was relatively near home and Queen Street was exactly the same set-up as Bancroft Mill. It was a technology I understood perfectly from my previous experience and my time at Pendle Heritage had taught me a lot about managing heritage attractions and interpretation. On the face of it I was a good candidate for the job. Queen Street was the last complete steam driven weaving shed in the North of England, or so everyone believed at the time. There was no doubt in my mind that we had to save one and this was the candidate so there shouldn’t be any problem getting funding. My only worry was the position of the mill and the prospective partners in the enterprise. I had seen Pennine Heritage in action before and wasn’t very impressed by them for a variety of reasons. I have to admit that my crap detector was on its highest sensitivity setting when I went for the interviews!

I forget exactly when the interviews took place but it was a three day process at Queen Street Mill. I only knew one other person who had applied and that was Anna Benson who had helped Ian Gibson during the conversion of Higher Mill at Helmshore into the Museum of the Lancashire Textile Industry.
The interviews started well enough but when I went in front of the panel which included the Planning Officer from Burnley, David Fletcher of Pennine Heritage and his manager I was struck by the fact that they seemed to be spending more time selling the project than actually enquiring what my qualifications were. It was almost as if they were putting on an act for the council to convince them that they knew exactly what they were doing. At one point they told me what a wonderful boiler and engine there was driving the mill. I said that it might not be as good as they thought and showed them pictures which I had with me of the inside of the high pressure cylinder on the engine. I had these because a couple of years earlier I had helped Newton repair the engine when it broke a piston ring because of lack of lubrication. The broken ring had ploughed a groove in the cylinder bottom and the management hadn’t done anything about it beyond replace the ring because they knew they were going to shut down. I also pointed out other major faults on the engine, the fact that the low pressure was so badly worn that the piston rod was running in the bottom of the metallic packing and the flywheel had loose keys. I also detailed the faults in the economisers and the boilers including the fact that they would certainly have asbestos in the settings. In case you are thinking this wasn’t the best technique to adopt, I wasn’t interested in working with someone who couldn’t accept the truth. They didn’t make any comment beyond the fact that they were impressed by my knowledge of the plant The day’s interviews finished and we all went home to prepare for the next day. At this point I was told I was still in the running.

Late that night I got a phone call from a mole of mine in Hebden Bridge where Pennine Heritage were based. He told me that he had been informed of a conversation earlier that evening which had been overheard in a pub, he didn’t say where. My name had been mentioned in respect of Queen Street and I wasn’t going to get the job, he also told me who would get it and why. I digested this, went to bed and the following day presented myself at Queen Street. When I got there I had a word with Anna Benson and told her she was going to get the job. She said this was daft because I was the obvious candidate and asked me how I knew but I kept quiet. However, I told her that the reason she was getting the job was because Pennine Heritage thought they could control her. I advised her that if she took the job she should try to do it on secondment from the Lancashire Museum Service because in my opinion it had the makings of a disaster. I then formally withdrew from the interviews giving no explanation beyond the fact that I had changed my mind. I called in to see David Moore on the way home and I can still remember what he said to me after I explained what had happened. He said I had acted correctly, he was glad I hadn’t caused a stink and wasn’t it funny how something that looked so good one week could turn into a can of worms so quickly!

The bottom line is that I was quite right about Pennine Heritage, they ran the project badly and failed to achieve their aims for Queen Street. The Council had to take over in the end, hand it over to the Lancashire Museum Service and they finished the works on the mill with the backing of English Heritage. During the hiatus between the demise of Pennine Heritage at Queen Street and the Museums Service taking over, I advised Robert and we went down to Burnley and offered to buy the mill for £1! This was a serious offer and it sat on the table until the Council decided to throw in their lot with English Heritage and the Lancashire Museums Service but at one point they took the bid very seriously. Robert nearly ended up owning Queen Street!

There was a sequel to these events a couple of years later. The architect at Burnley was a bloke called John Lowe and one day he offered to take me to lunch. We had a good lunch but I knew he wanted something in return. Eventually he got round to it and asked me what, in my opinion, was the best way to go about making Queen Street viable. I told him that my opinion hadn’t changed. They needed to get the place weaving again, preferably as a co-operative shed because in that way they could involve the Co-op movement in the enterprise. The cloth they wove should be made up into high class goods and clothing using the units that had been created at the back of the mill and be sold commercially. He took it all in and I have no doubt reported back to the council but the plan was never adopted.

Ten years later, Queen Street is just about getting off the ground as a ‘Heritage Attraction’ and I hate to think how much subsidy each customer going through the door is costing. If I was to take a guess it would be something like £10 a head. Even though it has only just been finished, the operation is under review and in danger of closure. It really is a disgrace that a viable enterprise like Queen Street cannot be allowed to operate commercially and yet Treasury Rules preclude any subsidy against revenue. My argument has always been that there isn’t much point funding the restoration of a site and then letting it die because of lack of revenue. If the heritage is important enough to restore it’s important enough to subsidise.
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Re: Queens Mill Burnley

Post by Stanley » 08 Nov 2016, 07:28

There is a back story about why Queen Street was chosen for preserving in the first place. Here's another extract from 1978.....

Meanwhile, back at the mill [Bancroft], the visitor count to the engine house rose steadily, partly because of the news of the closure which had made the local and national papers but also due to the fact that as I moved further into recording the mill more people became aware of its existence and came to see it. I was also agitating at government level for something to be done about Bancroft, my point was that sooner or later they would have to pick a weaving mill to preserve and the time to do it was while the mill was running and was a viable business. Peter White from the DOE came up to have a look and I asked him why the government didn’t step in and buy the place, if they did it would cost them £60,000 for the whole thing, lock stock and barrel. My suggestion was that they should then divide the shed, half for weaving and the other half for Brown and Pickles who were looking rocky as well. If they gave the weaving side an order for government tea towels they would get their towels better made and cheaper, save the mill and the skills that kept it going. Brown and Pickles could carry on with their normal trade but could also become repairers and trainers for the whole of the steam heritage sector in the country. This would require some investment but I was sure the engineering unions would be partners in this and in the end it would turn a profit and preserve several important aspects of the heritage. Peter told me it couldn’t even be considered because the government couldn’t be seen to be engaging commercially in industry. When I asked how this squared with nationalisation and the Royal Ordnance factories I was told this was entirely different! [ He also told me that he had a cunning plan. They would allow Bancroft to go to the wall and then run screaming rape down the corridors of power and advocating Jubilee.]

Twenty years later I have to tell you that I was right and they were wrong. The mill they had chosen as the favourite for preservation, Jubilee at Padiham, was sold and demolished under their noses and the only one left, Queen Street at Burnley, had to be chosen and supported and many things went wrong there. It still struggles on but in my opinion will always eat money. Bancroft was in the right place, it had plenty of space round it for development, it could have been a multi-interest site and a great opportunity for the heritage and the town.
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