Burnley's historic Queen Street Mill to benefit from National Trust recommendations to secure future

Important steps have been taken to ensure a vibrant and sustainable future for Burnley’s unique and iconic Queen Street Mill in Burnley as well as Helmshore Mills in Rossendale.

In 2021, cabinet agreed to a proposal from the National Trust to conduct a review of what could be changed in each museum to improve the visitor offer and their overall financial sustainability.

Famous as the world's only surviving operational steam-driven weaving shed, Burnley’s iconic Queen Street Mill Museum looked set for the axe in November 2015 after Lancashire County Council unveiled massive proposed budget cuts. It closed in 2016 but thankfully reopened in 2019 after extensive renovations.

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The National Trust presented its final report to the county council in the summer, with the report identifying a range of actions that could be implemented over the next five years.

Queen Street Mill in Burnley

On Thursday, cabinet approved proposals to enhance the in house offer at Queen Street Mills and Helmshore Mills, including the development of a comprehensive business plan and robust key performance indicators to assess progress.

These proposals enable the council to consider the full range of improvements in the report and allows it to build on the good relations with the National Trust for the future of the museums.

Coun. Peter Buckley, cabinet member for community and cultural services, said: “We are very grateful to the National Trust for carrying out this thorough review of Queen Street Mill and Helmshore Mills.

“We intend to carry a number the improvements identified by the National Trust forward to improve the overall offer and financial sustainability of both museums.

“Some improvements will require external funding and we will be making the case to invest in these historically significant heritage assets once we have identified suitable sources of funding.

“It is also very important to us that we continue to maintain good relations with the National Trust, whose contribution to our museums is greatly appreciated by the county council.”

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Burnley's iconic Queen Street Mill to receive vital funding

A number of improvements, such as marketing, signage and shop development could be implemented in 2023/24, which would increase visitor numbers and income generated by both museums. A wider range of improvements could be considered in future years primarily supported by attracting external funding from the major heritage funders.

Queen Street Mill is the last surviving 19th Century steam powered weaving mill. Visitors can also see its famous steam engine “Peace” drive more than 300 looms in the weaving shed.

Eleanor Underhill, assistant director of operations at the National Trust said: “We're very pleased to hear that Lancashire County Council will be moving forward with a number of our recommendations for both Queen Street Mill and Helmshore Mills Textile Museum.

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“In recent years we've been working in close partnership with the museums team at Lancashire County Council to offer specialist advice and heritage consultancy support, sharing our knowledge of looking after and promoting special places like Queen Street Mill and Helmshore Mills.

“We're hopeful that there is a bright future ahead for both of these important local heritage assets.”