Sunny Banks Mills, the flourishing mill complex at Farsley between Leeds and Bradford, is celebrating this year’s Heritage Open Days festival in style.
The award-winning mill, which has been transformed into a major 21st century mixed-use office, retail, leisure and cultural destination, will be opening its doors to the public from Friday September 9 to Sunday September 11.
During the Heritage Open Days weekend, the unique collection at Sunny Bank Mills Archive will be open, containing a complete record of cloth samples woven at the mill since the 1880s. The atmospheric mills still contain artefacts to take visitors back in time to the days when it employed over 900 people spinning and weaving some of the finest cloth in the world, here in Yorkshire.
In an exploration into the Heritage Open Day 2022 theme of Astounding Inventions, the Archive will be sharing Fancies, Feelers and Fents, featuring the development of synthetic dyes to the design and development of machinery big and small.
Dating from 1829, Sunny Bank Mills was an important woollen and worsted mill, with a fascinating history. It is still owned by the Gaunt family who helped found the mill in late Georgian times. In 2008 it stopped cloth production and the business was sold.
Since then, cousins William and John Gaunt have regenerated the mill as an inspirational and creative space for more than 80 independent businesses, together with a contemporary art gallery, studio artist community and a heritage site of national importance with its own textile Archive.
Fiona Gell, marketing and engagement officer for Sunny Bank Mills, explained: “You can book a tour in which our expert guides will take you around the Mill, show you secret spaces and reveal some amazing hidden stories. This lasts an hour.
“You can also go virtual by exploring our unique collection through an exciting virtual tour of the site and a 360-degree experience of the Archive and collection via our website.
“The weekend is very much a family affair and visitors can follow the children’s trail, take a quiz and do some brass rubbings around the Mill site, while there’s a separate trail for families around the Archive. You can also visit our Mini Mill! Our iconic 1912 Mill building will be in miniature on Weavers’ Lawn but big enough for you to go inside, explore and play.
“Our Open Studios give visitors the opportunity to see where the Mill’s resident artists and makers live, and you can buy work direct from them on the day. You can also visit our Art Gallery with its latest exhibition, Vessel, and resident artist Mel Davies is taking over our Spinning Mill Loft with his solo exhibition Green and Pleasant.
“And finally, there’s the opportunity to buy vintage, as Rose & Brown return to the Old Woollen for a weekend of Vintage Home and Interiors.”
- There’s something for the whole family in this packed Heritage Open Days weekend. Free Parking. Free entry to the Mill, Archive (booking essential via the website) and Open Studios. £2 entry to the vintage fair.
- Guided tours of the Mill: Friday 9th - 10.00/12.00/2.00; Saturday 10th – 10.00/11.00/12.00/1.00/2.00/3.00; and Sunday 11th - 11.00/12.00/2.00/3.00.
Booking essential via the website. There are some access restrictions on the mill site tour due to the old nature of mill buildings. Some buildings have step access only. Please contact the mill (firstname.lastname@example.org and 0113 256 3239) if you have accessibility needs.