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Improvements lead to tourism boost at Whitchurch Silk Mill

Whitchurch Silk Mill - picture credited to Jonny Freeman

We've been speaking exclusively to the Director of Whitchurch Silk Mill, months after it reopened following an extensive renovation project.

The people in charge of the historic site in North Hampshire, which is the oldest silk mill in the UK to still be in its original building, say they've seen a big boost in business since it reopened to the public.

Whitchurch Silk Mill was reopened in September 2018 after an extensive renovation project, which was supported by National Lottery funding.

Director, Sue Tapliss, has told us various changes have been made to improve access and fire safety - and she says it's paid off:

"We've had 44% more visitors compared to when we were open before.

"Lots of people are coming to visit and to enjoy the cafe, which has become a focal point in the town."

Sue says the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris reinforced why stringent measures were put in place during the mill's recent renovation project:

"This is a Grade 2 style listed building - and it's a unique survivor, so it's vital that we preserve it.

"Now we have a rigorous fire management process in place.

"No smoking, vaping, phone charging or anything else which could start a fire is allowed."

Meanwhile, the mill's Director has also revealed her team is also in charge of a rather different kind of cleaning.

The River Test flows through the popular tourist attraction but it needs to be kept in good condition - and the staff at the mill are partly responsible for that.

Sue Tapliss has told us they'll be out extensively clearing weeds from the river from next month, as part of a big team effort across the Test Valley:

"The riverkeepers and anyone with responsibility for the river all work together.

"We clean the river through here during June, July and August, to make sure it's clear and flowing well on its way to Romsey.

"When the weeds which have been cleared reach there, they're cleared away by the Environment Agency."

You can find out more about Whitchurch Silk Mill here.

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