COLUMN: Relaunch set to breathe new life into North Mill

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By Belper North Mill

If you go down to the mill today... the words may not be true to the original, but it is true that if you do go down to the mill today you will definitely be in for a big surprise. 
It’s nothing to do with a teddy bears’ picnic, although we do have our beautiful Berkins bears available in the shop, it’s more to do with the changes at the mill in preparation for our relaunch in March. 
Our service team, Sid Ellicot, Colin Williamson and Ian Longdon, a group of specialist volunteers who have almost a lifetime’s experience in the cotton and knitting industries; maybe not a lifetime as this makes them sound ancient, which they most definitely aren’t, have been working through the winter months to breathe new life into our water frame, spinning jenny and griswald knitting machines. Ian Longdon, one of our most recent recruits said, ‘It’s been hard work but our heritage is worth saving’. 
We think so and we can’t thank them enough. It’s not just the machines, but also the museum itself that has had a makeover with a complete renovation and remodelling of our main exhibition areas. 
The difference is remarkable. 
The space has opened up entirely and you really get a sense of the mill as it was.The changes are very much a work in progress. 
Our aim is for it to be more of Belper’s North Mill as much as it Strutt’s North Mill so if you have any photos or stories you would like to share with us, we’d love to hear from you. 
To help us celebrate the changes, staff in the Visual Arts department at the University of Derby are in the process of creating an amazing sound and light show for us with the North Mill as the backdrop on Saturday, March 29. 
Not only that, we’re looking for talented amateurs aged roughly between 16 and 20, who can sing, dance and act, to take part in an exciting performance. 
Auditions will take place 4pm to 6pm at the mill on Saturday, March 22. 
And George Gunby has exciting plans for International Women’s Day on March 8. 
It’s proving to be an exciting few months so if you do go down to the mill, which we hope you will, we’re sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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