Following the news that the Mill was apparently no longer undertaking silk weaving, a request was placed before the Town Councillors that they raise the matter with Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and Hampshire County Council, who it is understood fund some of the Mill’s operation.
Local resident Lynn Parnell who presented the proposal on behalf of a group of local residents, explained that many people were concerned to learn of the changes at the Mill, through the Parish Magazine and the Town website. There was alarm that the state of the finances had led the Trustees to think about closure.
The call was for assistance to be given to the Mill in…
“achieving its charitable objects in the long term and to be a vibrant heritage attraction of benefit to Whitchurch and the wider area”
The charitable aims refer to “the preservation, restoration, improvement, enhancement and maintenance of… the art of silk making”
The Mill is special
The Mill holds a special place in the town and the value of a non-working Mill may affect visitor numbers which can effect footfall to other businesses, shops and pubs. It is believed that it receives funds from the public purse to remain solvent.
A jewel in the crown
Requests for a statement from the Mill, which is run by a Trust and a Board of Directors, and an on-site General Manager have gone unanswered creating speculation over what should really be a jewel in Whitchurch’s crown.
Creative process could be lost?
Whitchurch Arts, which discussed the issue at its recent meeting, also asked the Councillors that the weaving of silk be maintained at the Mill, as the creative process could be lost forever. They called for:
“…our elected representatives and official bodies to support the long-term continuance of the historical process of silk weaving and associated activities at the Mill, and to develop it as a working heritage site to include active production of creative-focused work”.
Concern was expressed that visitors may be leaving the town with a poor impression as they expect to see weaving taking place on the historic machinery. Visiting the town should be a joyful experience, not one which may leave one disappointed.
The meeting agreed that as much support as possible was needed and that the issue will be referred to the whole Council.
Today the Silk Mill’s website was still saying:
“Whitchurch Silk Mill is a 19th century water mill that continues to weave English silk fabrics using 19th century machinery.”
“We weave silk and silk-mix taffetas, twills, ottomans, organzas, herringbones, satins and satin striped materials.”
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Note they are the views of the author not necessarily those of the Town Website or its volunteer team.