Leven – Silverburn Flax Mill
We are delighted to be working with Fife Employment Access Trust (FEAT) and Fife Council on an ambitious £7 million project to restore Silverburn flax mill, near Leven. The flax mill dates from the mid-19th century and is set in the beautiful surroundings of Silverburn Park. The B-listed building is a rare survivor of Scotland’s historic flax industry, but it is now derelict and is on the Buildings At Risk Register.
Our role as the specialist heritage partner, is to support FEAT throughout the life of the project – from early stage feasibility work and appointment of the design team, to working up funding applications to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic Environment Scotland – and to manage the construction process.
FEAT is a Fife-based charity that supports people with mental health conditions to access employment, and promotes positive messages about mental health. FEAT has recently taken over the management of Silverburn Park from Fife Council. The flax mill project is at the heart of their vision to restore the park to a place of quiet enjoyment for all, supporting the health and wellbeing of the community, protecting the cultural heritage, and enhancing the biodiversity within the park. FEAT run a popular Cottage Window café for park visitors, and have now opened a campsite with glamping pods.
The plan for the building includes a hostel for walkers and other tourists, a café, artists’ studios, meeting spaces, and an office for FEAT. And there will be even more opportunities for the local community, volunteers and visitors from further afield to take part in a wide range of activities – would you like to explore the local history, try your hand at traditional building skills, grow food for the café, or get creative with storytelling and art projects?
The project Development Phase is now underway, generously funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Fife Council, the Architectural Heritage Fund and the William Grant Foundation. A specialist team of consultants is on board to develop detailed plans for the flax mill and the activities and interpretation.
We have just completed work to make the flax mill building wind and watertight – thanks to a £145,000 grant from the Scottish Government’s Vacant & Derelict Land Fund. This also gave us chance to clear out the building and take a closer look at its special features. Added to a new survey and history of the building from specialist industrial historian Dr Fred Hamond, we are now getting to know this building so much better – and this will help Sinclair Watt Architects develop the proposals for the conversion, to meet FEAT’s requirements.
The project team and the Friends of Silverburn Park would love to hear from you! Please do get in touch if you have any information about the flax mill or the park, or would like to help by getting involved or donating to the project.
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