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A record number of people attended the Friends of the Silk Mill AGM. Nearly 70 filled the first floor.

It was a packed room at the AGM of the Friends of Whitchurch Silk Mill as nearly 70 members and residents showed their support for the Mill, turning out on a damp evening to hear the latest news on the future of the Mill in the town.
(Click on pictures to enlarge)

Successes of the year

Marion Brinton ran through the successes of the year, where the main activity of volunteering has provided much support for the historic building, ranging from tidying up  and guiding to helping with coach parties. There was also news of all the gardening, including composting, that was carried out by the volunteers. Dates for next year’s volunteer gardening days had already been set, and are at the base of this article. Particular note was made of the help that Geoff and Sheila Kelland give the Mill which received a much deserved round of applause.
Another highlight was the presentation of a series of historic slides taken by Ted Moss to the Friends which were gratefully received by the Committee.

The Library generates income.

Events and fundraising
Events over the past year have included participation in National Mills Day, and event with the Ghurkas and the highlight being a sell-out lecture from explorer John Pilkington. In addition the Friends had introduced a very popular library to the tearoom through the hard work of volunteers Muriel, Angela and Jackie. This is now generating considerable income.

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The Friends donated the money required to install new fire doors.

Meanwhile their largest contribution during the last year was over £3000 for the installation of much needed fire doors required by changing legislation.

Heartened by the public suport
Marion, who was re-elected as chairperson, said the aim was to concentrate on more fundraising events and a small Committee is being set up to oversee that activity. Whilst the year had been a difficult one with the changes at the Trustee and Board level, Marion was “heartened by the public support for the Mill” adding that the Friends are very pleased about the new relationship of cooperation that now exists with the new Board.

With nearly 140 members the Friends are now looking ahead to an exciting year and are already planning a number of events including much more involvement with the local community.


Following the elections the meeting was handed over to Cllr Keith Watts, who has been instrumental in restructuring the Board and Trustees after it was discovered that weaving had halted and that there was a real threat of closure. As the new chairman, he explained how the new Board was formed and that it now had “a good mix of skills” from business acumen to financial management as well as knowledge of the historic elements.

A feasibility study into weaving has commenced.

Cheers rang out…
To cheers from those present it was announced that a very dedicated team had started running a feasibility trial, looking at the viability of restarting weaving.

It is hoped the weaving trial will be successful.

Warping was already underway and that the first trial silk will be woven in the next few weeks.
Full details of this are outlined HERE

Challenge ahead
Keith noted the tremendous support of the local community through social media, the town website the public meeting and the work of many individuals had all led to the encouraging situation the Mill finds itself in today. But there are still hurdles to overcome. However with top legal advice and the backing of Hampshire County Council, Basingstoke and Deane and the Mill’s ‘landlords’ the Hampshire Buildings Preservation Trust, the future is wholly one of optimism.

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People toured around the Mill after the Friends AGM.

Following the AGM and the presentation by Keith Watts, those present were able to take part in very informative tours of the Mill and to see the potentail for the future under the new Board. There may be challenging times but it is all very exciting for the town too.

The Mill will not be in darkness this Christmas!

Christmas plans underway
The main event on the horizon is the Christmas celebrations with the town’s Christmas Lights Switch On, the Shopping evening, and the Christmas Fair at the Gill Nethercott Centre – all planned for December 6th.
At last year’s festivities it was noted with sadness that the main Silk Mill Building was in darkness – this year the lights will be on and it will be welcoming the Town.

Volunteering dates:
The Friends also announced their volunteer gardening dates for 2013:

Tuesday 12th March
Tuesday 9th April
Tuesday 14th May
Tuesday 11th June
Tuesday 9th July
Tuesday 13th August
Tuesday 10th September
Tuesday 8th October
Tuesday 12th November

Now that is planning ahead – the Mill is in good hands!


Membership Forms can be downloaded:


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