A major renovation scheme is being planned for an iconic Burnley landmark to ensure its long term future.
Structural engineering experts have said the 115 feet high chimney at Queen Street Mill is in need of strengthening work following a detailed inspection.
The Grade I listed building, built in 1894, is understood to have suffered damage after being exposed to the elements for more than a century.
Cosima Towneley, chair of the Cabinet Working Group for Museums and County Councillor for Burnley Rural in whose division Queen Street Mill is located, said: “Earlier this year it was announced that the mill was to reopen to the public alongside two other museums operated by Lancashire County Council.
“However to allow the work to take place part of the building has to be cordoned off for health and safety reason. This impacts the council’s ability to open the site fully.
“Access to the weaving shed at the museum will be maintained for visitors when the museum does reopen to the public on July 7, to coincide with the revived Briercliffe Festival.
“The council has though decided to limit the number of days the museum will be open this season to ensure work can be undertaken as quickly as possible.
“There will be free access to the museum on these days.”
County Councillor Peter Buckley, cabinet member for community and cultural services, said: “Queen Street Mill is an important part of the heritage of Burnley and Lancashire as a whole.
“As custodians of the building for future generations the county council will be carrying out these important works to ensure the chimney is strengthened.
“Because of the height of the building the work will need to be carried out by steeplejacks, who do an incredibly specialist and technical job.
“We are sorry that we will not be able to open throughout the summer period as we had hoped, but I really hope people will take advantage of the free opening days to see how amazing this museum is.”
Queen Street Mill is the only surviving operational steam-powered weaving mill in the world.
It has been used as a backdrop for numerous television documentaries and dramas, as well as featuring in the Oscar winning film The Kings Speech and Mike Leigh’s forthcoming film Peterloo due for release on November 2 (to mark the bicentenary of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester 1819)
The mill ceased operation in 1982 and was subsequently turned into a museum showing the importance of cotton and the industrial revolution in Lancashire. It is the last surviving example of a steam powered Lancashire mill.
Sue Ashworth, senior museum manager, said: “It is disappointing we will not be able to open as often as we had planned this summer, but it is very important that this work takes place.
“Queen Street Mill is a truly unique building which needs to be preserved for the future.
“As a Grade I listed building the work needed is very specialist, so will take some time to complete. It is vital however that this is not rushed, and is done properly.
“In the meantime we hope as many people as possible will come and see us on our open days this year, especially as the visits will be free to all.”
The museum is set to reopen on July 7, and will then be open to the public on August 11, September 8, September 15 and October 13. It would welcome pre booked guided tours Monday to Friday. Please contact the site on 01282 412555 or email queenstreetmill@lancashire.