Save Queen Street Mill, Burnley-The last surviving 19th century steam powered weaving mill
This petition had 797 supporters
The government budget cuts for local councils has forced Lancashire County Council to take drastic measures including closing down local facilities and putting people out of work across the whole service. A proposal to end funding for Queen Street Mill Textile Museum along with several other Lancashire museums, has now been scheduled and the site could be shut down in Spring 2016.
As the last surviving 19th century steam powered weaving mill, Queen Street Mill Textile Museum is one of the last places to re-live the days when cotton was king and see the magnificent 500hp steam engine ‘Peace’ drive original Lancashire looms in the weaving shed! With 308 looms in situ it provides an impressive sight for anyone both from within and outside the county into Lancashire's industrial heritage. The museum also provides a venue for family activities, early years programmes, running craft sessions over summer holidays and is an important centre of learning for Lancashire's young residents. It also attracts a huge range of visitors both national and international who are tracing back their family history.
Founded in 1894 as a worker cooperative, Queen Street Mill was funded by selling 4000 share certificates each with a value of £5 to the local community. It became the largest company in the area specialising in producing Calico or 'Grey Cloth' and at its peak housed 1000 looms, with a further 500 in other mills owned by the company adjoining it. It ceased production on 12th March 1982 narrowly escaping having all the machinery smashed up for scrap and after much work and renovation reopened in 1986 as a museum, preserving one of Lancashire's, if not one of the country's best kept secrets.
Queen Street has also been a part of many wonderful films, TV dramas and documentaries. These include the Oscar-winning film The King's Speech, the BBC adaptation of Mrs Gaskell's North and South, the retro police series Life on Mars and more recently the BBC adaption of An Inspector Calls. Colin Firth, star of the King's Speech later signed the visitor's book, describing the mill as 'a thing of beauty'. It was also featured in the late Fred Dibnah's, 'World of Stream, Iron and Stone' series in 2006 and remains a popular destination for steam enthusiasts from across the country.
Queen Street Mill is a Grade 1 Listed building and is designated as having an Outstanding Collection of National Importance, alongside Helmshore Mill Textile Museum which is also facing closure. In 2013 Culture minister Ed Vaizey said, "The Queen Street Mill in Burnley is the epitome of a time when cotton production in Lancashire was Britain's principal source of industrial wealth. It's wonderful that it has survived all this time in such splendid condition. Listing it at Grade I will help ensure that it continues to tell the story of that era for many generations to come." With Grade I as the highest category, only bestowed on 2.5% of roughly 350,000 listed buildings in England, marking the mill as of exceptional importance.
Nick Bridgland, leader of the Historic England listing team in the north, described it as a unique building of international significance. He said, "Queen Street Mill is a remarkable survival of a working, steam-powered textile mill from the heyday of Lancashire's cotton production. The textile industry was one of the great drivers of Britain's industrialisation and so has international importance. The survival of such a complete mill is unparalleled and merits listing at the highest grade."
Queen Street is the epitome of the past of both Lancashire and its people and now the industry is dying out it is even more important to preserve such an important part of Lancashire's History. The potential loss of such a museum not only effects those who will be out of a job, but also the current and future residents of the Lancashire who will no longer be able to experience the past of their ancestors. Once lost, it is not something that can be found again.
We must appeal against these proposals and ensure that there will be someone to carry on running Queen Street for years to come. We need to encourage the council to put our objection to the government and request in the strongest possible way that funding be secured to allow us to keep this culturally and educationally significant venue open. We ask that the council look again at the figures and see if there may be another solution to finding the money and resources necessary to save Queen Street Mill.
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