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Farfield Mill

What they do

Farfield Mill honours its history by providing open studios where the public can see our community of artist makers at work; view exhibitions of high quality textiles, art and crafts; and learn about the heritage of wool production and weaving in the region.

The Mill

Farfield Mill is a visitor experience housed in an 1836 stone-built woollen mill. It hosts and runs art and craft exhibitions, heritage displays, a heritage weaving operation, educational workshops and events, a shop for local artists to sell their art and crafts and a tea room. There are also over 20 studios rented by local artists and craftspeople.

Farfield Mill enables creative enterprises to expand beyond the limits imposed by home working by meeting the demand from local artist makers for workshop and studio space at affordable rents. Farfield Mill estimates that resident artist makers at Farfield contribute around £150,000 per annum in turnover to the creative economy of the area.

Farfield Mill is a key part of the rural and visitor economy in the Sedbergh area, providing a significant visitor attraction. Being situated close to the newly expanded Cumbrian part of Yorkshire Dales National Park, Farfield Mill makes a substantial and increasingly effective contribution to the visitor offer in that area.

Farfield Mill has been an employer in the area for nearly 200 years. It now continues to provide employment for Sedbergh and its surrounds, employing 14 people directly. It also provides economic benefit for the local area by providing work-space for small businesses, a channel to display their works and products and a place to sell these. It provides a cultural benefit to Sedbergh through its exhibitions, workshops and educational events.

The crafts of all types now being made and sold at Farfield Mill are a major source of revenue, but the Farfield Mill project aims to support these craftspeople with inexpensive workspace rents, exhibitions and opportunities for them to pass on their skills. The combination of workspace with serviced shop sales is immensely valuable to these sole traders and start-ups.

Farfield Mill uses local suppliers and produce so that, in this way, it further supports the local rural economy.

History

Farfield Mill was built in 1837 by Joseph Dover. It was one of five textile mills in the Sedbergh area, which were then a modern manifestation of the continuous history of producing woollen goods that goes back in Sedbergh for at least 3,000 years.

After a proud history of operating for 155 years (Farfield Mill counted HM Queen Victoria as a customer), the last weaver at Farfield Mill gave up his business, and started to break up the looms for scrap. It was a historic moment which would have seen the history of the spinning and weaving of wool in Sedbergh come to an end.

A public meeting at the People’s Hall in Sedbergh on 17 November 1992 set in train fundraising for the preservation and restoration of Farfield Mill and began the engagement of the local community in the process. The Sedbergh and District Buildings Preservation Trust was set up and it raised a million pounds over the next seven years to restore the 19th century mill building.

The trust became the Sedbergh and District Arts and Heritage Trust and Farfield Mill opened to the public in 2001 as an arts and heritage centre. At its height, Farfield Mill attracted over 20,000 visitors a year.

A decision on how to use a four storey building of some 2,000 sq. m, while retaining some of its Victorian textile machinery, led to the creation of a woollen textile heritage exhibition which included demonstrating the use of salvaged Dobcross looms to produce saleable products, together with the provision of studios and support for quality designer makers. Education and engagement was seen to be an essential part of the provision.

Farfield Mill has developed a reputation regionally as a centre for weaving, textiles, art, and traditional and contemporary craft and design, providing two gallery spaces showcasing exhibitions of regional, national and international standing.

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