National Trust joins forces with Lancashire County Council to offer half-price entry for its members to iconic mill museums
The National Trust and Lancashire County Council have announced plans to welcome new visitors to two iconic Lancashire mill museums this summer, starting with an offer for National Trust members.
- Two historic textile museums, Queen Street Mill and Helmshore Mills, will welcome National Trust members for half-price in May and June this year
- Offer includes the Grade I listed Queen Street Mill, which featured in The King’s Speech starring Colin Firth and is the last surviving steam powered weaving mill in the world
- National Trust members can also visit Helmshore Mills Textile Museum for half the normal price. Helmshore Mills is a scheduled ancient monument, which includes both Whittaker Mill and Higher Mill
- Managed by Lancashire County Council, Helmshore Mills is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday 12-4pm. Queen Street Mill is open Wednesday to Saturday 12-4pm, and will open Sundays 12-4pm in May and June as a trial during the offer period
- The offer is part of a broader partnership between the National Trust and Lancashire County Council, made possible with the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, to raise the profile of these iconic textile museums and develop a more sustainable future for the mills
- The partnership also includes specialist consultancy support from the National Trust’s heritage experts
Members of the National Trust, along with any friends or family members who join them, can claim half-price entry to Queen Street Mill and Helmshore Mills for a limited time in May and June. The offer gives over 5.6 million history-loving National Trust members the opportunity to experience the earth-shaking power of the mills’ machinery and discover how Lancashire played its part in the Industrial Revolution.
The Trust, which cares for another example of the North West’s textile heritage at Quarry Bank in Cheshire, has partnered with Lancashire County Council to explore ways to develop and support the local authority’s two mill museum sites, which have recently re-opened after the winter break.
Grade I listed Queen Street Mill, on the outskirts of Burnley, is the last surviving example of a steam powered weaving mill in the world. Featured in the 2010 film The King’s Speech starring Colin Firth, and in Mike Leigh’s 2018 drama Peterloo, the mill’s steam engine ‘Peace’ is kept alive thanks to a dedicated team of staff and volunteers provide regular tours of the site for visitors
Helmshore Mills Textile Museum, in the Rossendale Valley, is a schedule ancient monument which tells the stories of life and work at Higher Mill and the adjacent Whitaker’s Mill.
With the original spinning machinery still in place and in full working order, visitors to Helmshore’s mills can see first-hand how Lancashire’s textile industry changed the world with its links to both wool and cotton.
The offer for National Trust members forms part of a wider partnership between the charity and Lancashire County Council, which is being made possible thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The partnership aims to share knowledge between the two organisations and showcase these two significant museums, encouraging people living in Lancashire and beyond to discover the county’s industrial past.
The Trust is also supporting the local authority’s team through a consultancy programme, with its team of heritage specialists and curators sharing knowledge and offering practical advice.
Eleanor Underhill, National Trust assistant director of operations for the North West, said: “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Lancashire County Council to explore a brighter future for Helmshore Mills and Queen Street Mill. Starting with our half-price offer for National Trust members, we want to give many more people the opportunity to experience what these iconic mill museums have to offer.
“With our knowledge of caring for industrial heritage sites like Quarry Bank in Cheshire, and thanks to support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, our team have been working closely with Lancashire County Council’s museums team to share learning and help to keep these important Lancashire mills open for everyone to enjoy.
“As a charity that cares for and protects places that matter, we want to play our part in helping more places deliver public benefit for all – not just those places in our care. It’s this spirit of collaboration that’s driving other major partnership projects for the National Trust, including our work at Castlefield Viaduct in Manchester City Centre which will open to the public this summer.”
Although budget cuts resulted in the temporary closure of Queen Street Mill and Helmshore Mills in 2016, Lancashire County Council re-opened these culturally-significant sites in 2019, and they now welcome visitors from April to October.
Helmshore Mills is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday 12-4pm. Queen Street Mill is open Wednesday to Saturday 12-4pm, and will also be open Sundays 12-4pm in May and June as a trial during the offer period.
Ian Watson, libraries and museums manager for Lancashire County Council, said: "We're really proud of both Helmshore and Queen Street and believe our partnership with the National Trust will mean many more people will come and see just how fantastic they are.
"There's nothing quite like experiencing the moment when you step into the spinning floor and weaving sheds or see the engine room.
"You're transported back in time, when textiles where at the heart of the industrial age, imagining what it must have been like for the people who worked there, day in, day out.
"We hope National Trust members will bring their family and friends and enjoy a great day out at these two incredible sites.”
National Trust members can claim the half-price offer by simply showing a valid National Trust membership card when they visit Queen Street Mill or Helmshore Mills during May and June this year.
Find out more about the offer for National Trust members and plan a visit at:www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/finding-a-future-for-lancashires-historic-mills