Historic Scotland Opens Stanley Mills Heritage Centre, Perthshire

By Caroline Lewis | 20 March 2008
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photo of an 18th century mill complex

Historic Scotland has spent £4.6 million converting Stanley Mills © Historic Scotland

A former cotton mill at the forefront on the Industrial Revolution in Scotland opens to the public on March 21 2008 after a major project to turn it into a heritage attraction.

In the 18th century, farm workers travelled down through the Perthshire glens to take part in the Industrial Revolution, of which Stanley Mills was then at the forefront with its imposing buildings and heavy machinery. Founded in 1786, commercial operations at Stanley ceased in 1989.

Now people will be travelling to the complex just north of Perth for a different reason, after Historic Scotland has spent £4.6 million converting it. The historic Arkwright Bell Mill and Mid Mill, positioned on the banks of the River Tay, now house an attraction and education centre that examine the history of the people, products and power of the mills.

The interactive displays and exhibits introduce visitors to the founders of the mills and how the works brought prosperity to the area, and tell the story of its later decline. Human stories jostle with explanations of the physical processes that harnessed the power of the river to spin cotton inside the imposing buildings.

photo of a large mill building with a bell tower and some large cogs against a blue sky

© Historic Scotland

“Historic Scotland has been working on the Stanley Mills project since the mills came into our care in 1995,” said Peter Bromley, Director of Properties in Care at Historic Scotland.

“These are so many people that have contributed to the development and it’s great to see the visitor attraction now opening to the public. We believe that the visitor centre, and its facilities, will put the mills back at the heart of the community.”

Edinburgh-based poet Aonghas MacNeacail has written specially commissioned works to tell the story of 18th century farm workers who came to work at the mills, while English and Gaelic voiceovers bring the past to life in some galleries.

“Stanley Mills promises to be a great day out for all the family with something for everyone to enjoy,” said Kaye Finlay, Manager at Stanley Mills. “We expect the visitor centre to be popular with locals and help pull in visitors to see everything Perthshire has to offer. We are all looking forward to welcoming everyone and ensuring a fantastic time is had by all.”

Visitors will have the chance to purchase a special Stanley Mills membership for just £9 annually, offering unlimited access to the site.

The larger regeneration project at Stanley has been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Gannochy Trust and Scottish Enterprise Tayside.

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