Oscars joy for Burnley’s Queen Street Mill

HARLE Syke shone under the Hollywood limelight after hit film The King’s Speech scooped four Oscars at this year’s Academy Awards.

The historical film, which saw leading man Colin Firth win Best Actor and Tom Hooper Best Director, has a special “extra” in the form of Queen Street Mill.

The former cotton mill, which now exists as a museum complete with its working weaving looms and steam engine, was used as a location for the scene in which Colin Firth’s character is addressing a group of northern mill workers.

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And, as revealed in the Express, its faithful old steam engine “Peace” had a very important role in getting the best out of Colin Firth in his role as the stuttering future King George VI.

Museum manager Georgina Gates said: “Our steam engine ‘Peace’ actually played quite an influential role in Colin Firth’s superb performance that saw him deservedly pick up the Best Actor Oscar.

“The director, Tom Hooper, asked for the engine to be fired up for five minutes at a time, which was quite a difficult skill for our engineers.

“The sound of the engine isn’t heard in the film and we only realised afterwards that the director was trying to crank up the pressure on Colin whose character was struggling with a stutter.

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“The mill re-opened on Monday, which was perfect timing, and we’re now looking forward to seeing what new visitors the film will bring to us. Perhaps we will have film buffs and Colin Firth fans coming to see one of its locations.”

Meanwhile former MP Peter Pike has revealed how this fantastic legacy of Burnley’s proud industrial past was nearly lost to the town in the early 1980s.

He said: “Seeing The King’s Speech recently – which is really excellent – reminded me of when Queen Street Mill was saved.

“When I was leader of the council, the council officers drew to my attention that the mill was being disposed of and that all the looms were to be broken up. T

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“he mill was quite unique, powered in the traditional Lancashire way with that beautiful engine ‘Peace’.

“I arranged for a small group of key committee chairmen and officers and the mill was eventually saved as a museum. How many people locally have visited this gem, or the Helmshore Spinning Mills on our doorstep in Rossendale? Britain’s prosperity was built on the cotton trade and these mills are really well worth a visit.”

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