Breathing new life into Paradise Mill and Macclesfield Silk Museum -

Breathing new life into Paradise Mill and Macclesfield Silk Museum following hat trick of more than £100k funding success for urgent investment.

We are delighted to announce that Paradise Mill and The Silk Museum in Macclesfield have been awarded funding to secure the future of the town’s remarkable heritage, to reimagine the visitor experience and engage even more people in the stories behind the historic machines and the production of silk. The funding will help the museums to develop as a centre for knowledge and cultural participation.

Paradise Mill located at Park Green in Macclesfield is home to Europe’s largest collection of Jacquard silk handlooms in their original setting. The whole interior of the third floor of Paradise Mill and the collections within it has been designated by Historic England. The Silk Museum is located next door and hosts a programme of displays and events exploring how silk shaped Macclesfield for over 300 years and its intriguing connection with Ancient Egypt.

Macclesfield Museum has received £58K from the third round of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund distributed by Arts Council England. This award will help the museum to thrive and develop at a critical time, and to welcome new and existing visitors to its stunning collections. In addition, it will enable the museums to continue to work in partnership with schools and groups to ensure that as many people can access cultural experiences as possible.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries says:

“Culture is for everyone and should therefore be accessible to everyone, no matter who they are and where they’re from.

“Through unprecedented government financial support, the Culture Recovery Fund is supporting arts and cultural organisations so they can continue to bring culture to communities the length and breadth of the country, supporting jobs, boosting local economies and inspiring people.”

Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, says:

 “This continued investment from the Government on an unprecedented scale means our theatres, galleries, music venues, museums and arts centres can carry on playing their part in bringing visitors back to our high streets, helping to drive economic growth, boosting community pride and promoting good health. It’s a massive vote of confidence in the role our cultural organisations play in helping us all to lead happier lives”.

Alongside the award from the Culture Recovery Fund, £30k has been granted from Art Fund specifically to reimagine Paradise Mill. This award will allow investment in the training of current and new tour guides to bring the Mill alive with the authentic stories about the mill and the people who worked there. It will also help to enrich interpretation to enable self-guided visits for the first time and introduce ways of broadening the experience for families and children, offering an experience like nowhere else in Europe.

David Rutley, MP for Macclesfield and President of the Silk Heritage Trust, says:

Macclesfield’s unique heritage has a vital role to play as we seek to establish the town as a more distinctive destination. Macclesfield Museum already makes an important contribution to the economic life of the town through tourism and I believe it has even more to offer as we seek to realise the town’s cultural and economic potential.”

John Varney, Chairman of Silk Heritage Trust, says:

“This is such great news for the Museum. Paradise Mill is the jewel in Macclesfield Museums’ visitor offer. With Europe’s largest collection of 18th century Jacquard silk hand looms, visitors comment on the special atmosphere, finding it untouched from the final day it was operated. The scale of the collection provides an immersive experience of the sounds, smell and feel of a now lost industry. We can now build on that visitor offer and create something really wonderful.”

And the good news continues with a special £27k fellowship, which has been awarded to curator Kathryn Warburton by the Headley Fellowship with Art Fund. The Fellowship will enable Kathryn to research and learn more about the twentieth century industrial machinery in The Silk Museum to ensure that they are conserved and cared for the future. Kathryn will uncover hidden stories relating to the machines’ industrial impact and the lives of the people who developed and used them. She will be developing an oral history programme: delivering a Discovery Day for the public about the machines and working with community groups to co-curate displays.

Eleven professionals working in museums around the UK have been awarded the fellowship to focus on research projects aiming to develop specialist knowledge around their public collections.

Jenny Waldman, Art Fund director says: “Supporting the development of curator’s skills and growing expertise in museums is key to deepening knowledge around UK collections and a core part of Art Fund’s charitable programme. The Headley Fellowship provides a unique opportunity for Museum professionals and we are excited to find out what new stories our Fellows will uncover through their projects.”

Janet Jackson, Co-chair of Macclesfield Town Recovery Working Group and Chair of Friends of Macclesfield Museums, added:

“We are extremely grateful to our funders for their support and we are delighted that after a very difficult time during a global pandemic, we can now plan a future for the museum that will inspire our visitors and inform them about the incredible stories connected to Paradise Mill, The Silk Museum and indeed the town.

“The cultural offer in Macclesfield is really important to keep our high street and town centre thriving and the museums play a big part in that. These venues needed urgent investment and this will help them to continue to tell the stories of the silk industry and create the sense of place for Macclesfield.

“We want people to come and support our museums. If you haven’t been to visit, please do. You can also become a Friend to the Museum which helps support the work the museums deliver.”