Work begins to breathe new life into historic mill with help from Reward Finance Group

A former flax mill in Cleator, near Whitehaven which played a significant role in the development of rights for women workers following a strike by the female workforce in 1915, is to be given a new lease of life with help from a £500k Business Finance loan from Reward Finance Group.

Cleator Mills, which used to employ 600 people, is to be developed into a business park, bringing new jobs to the area.

The developers, Mark Walker and Andy Ross of Genr8ed Limited, had managed the site for the previous owners for ten years and were given first option to buy the mill when it came up for sale.

To date the company has spent around £400k on demolition and clearance of part of the site, the replacement of all mains services, and the repair and renewal of river flood defences.

It is now embarking on Phase One following the £500k cash injection from Reward Finance Group. This will entail further demolition and the refurbishment of redundant single storey workshops at the east end of the site.

When complete the units will provide between 6,000 and 8,000 square feet of quality light engineering workshop space, suitable for SMEs in the local area.

Interest has already been high for the units from nearby Sellafield’s local supply chain companies, and the developers are confident they will be let on completion.

Following take up of the units, Phase two will begin which will comprise the refurbishment of one of the former mill buildings to provide a mix of workspace and flexible offices. The larger of the three buildings has the potential to create a café and conference facilities on the ground floor.

Speaking about the development, Andy Ross said, “We are so pleased that, having done all the preparation work, we can now push on with the refurbishment of such an historic mill.

“It is in a great location close to Sellafield’s Park & Ride facility and Gleeson Homes has submitted a planning application to build 100 houses adjacent to the site. This will result in it becoming a central hub and, when combined with the landscaping and river environments, the development will become a destination for new jobs and homes, leading to the wider re-generation of the area.

“We would like to thank Reward Finance Group for buying into our vision, seeing the enormous potential for the mill, and providing the funds to enable us to turn it into reality.”

Business development director at Reward, Clive Briggs, added, “Mark and Andy have formed the perfect partnership as they have complimentary skills. Mark’s a top-quality developer and Andy is a qualified chartered surveyor. Both have more than 20 years’ experience in their fields and have excellent reputations in the region.

“I have known the two of them for ten years and, during that time, witnessed their success across several developments. When they approached Reward about Cleator Mills, they were able to demonstrate the enormous potential for the site and we had no hesitation in providing them with the necessary funds to make it happen.”