RIBA Awards 2019 - Winner
RIBA Client of the Year 2019 - Winner
SPACES Award 2019 - Heritage Conservation Category - Winner

Built in 1815, Whitchurch Silk Mill is a Grade II* Listed textile watermill and the oldest working silk mill in the UK still in its original building. In 2016 the Mill received a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to repair and conserve the site and buildings and to improve the visitor experience. The project was entitled `Preserving the Fabric: A Sustainable Future for Whitchurch Silk Mill’.

Significant works were undertaken to restore the mills original open floor plans and to create an environment in which visitors are able to witness the production of the silk fabrics by the highly skilled craftspeople employed at the mill. The layout of the building has been altered to improve visitor flow, with glazed partitions providing views of the looms. Enhanced staff and visitor facilities have also been incorporated, including a new lift, enabling access to all areas of the building.

To respond sensitively to the conservation requirements of its industrial and natural heritage, traditional construction methods and materials were used, and the design sought to retain as much of the historic fabric as possible.

In order to provide an enlarged café and shop, the single storey building adjacent to the Mill was extended and remodelled using a modern palette of zinc cladding, black timber and aluminium framed windows. The grounds have also been improved with a seating area at the new timber entrance to the building, a decked area surrounding the welcome building, new access bridges, and a waterwheel viewing area.

The improved visitor facilities include new interpretation and activities to ensure the Mill remains an inspiring place where visitors can learn about its significant history and secure this building’s future.

Location: Whitchurch, Hampshire
Client: The Whitchurch Silk Mill Trust
Architects: Hampshire County Council (HCC) Property Services
M&E Engineers: Hampshire County Council (HCC) Property Services
Landscape: Hampshire County Council (HCC) Property Services
Structural Engineer: Marbas Ltd
Cost Management: IKS Consulting
Project Manager: Greenwood Projects
Specialist Teams: HCC Property Services Heritage Architects
Size of site: 2400m2
Budget: £1.3m
Completed: September 2018
Proposals developed in consultation with: Heritage Lottery Fund, Hampshire Buildings Preservation Trust (HBPT), Whitchurch Silk Mill Trust, Historic England, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Natural England, County Archaeologist.

Whitchurch Silk Mill
The Preserving the Fabric project has secured the future for silk weaving at the mill by creating an inspiring and beautiful place to visit and learn about its significant past. The new Welcome Building hosts a destination café and gift shop which will help us to become self-sustaining by 2025. The restoration and access improvements in the Mill have improved the visitor experience and we can now look forward to delighting visitors for another 200 years.
- Sue Tapliss, Whitchurch Silk Mill Director
Whitchurch Silk Mill
Whitchurch Silk Mill
Whitchurch Silk Mill

Key Benefits:

  • Repair and heritage conservation
  • A remodelled and redecorated building creating a new welcome building with shop, ticketing and café
  • Access improvement, including a new lift to all three floors.