Engines of Prosperity: new uses for old mills

Textile mills were the original Northern Powerhouse. From the late 18th century onwards, they drove forward the industrial revolution. They triggered technical innovation, stimulated new trade and transformed the transport network. Silk, cotton and woollen production shaped the landscape, economy and communities of Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Yorkshire. However, with the 20th century decline in national textile manufacturing, many of these monumental and characterful buildings face uncertain futures.

Historic England engaged Cushman & Wakefield and Lathams Architects to review and develop best practice in the regeneration of textile mills. The West Yorkshire study was published on 30 June 2016 and the North West study was published on 20 November 2017.

The studies comprise the following key elements:

  • A review of best practice mills conversions
  • Assessments of re-use potential of under-used/vacant mills
  • Key lessons learned and recommended next steps

The reports highlight the opportunity for vacant and under-used mills in the regions to act as a stimulus for regeneration activity and to contribute to growth in the local economy.

2021 Update - Driving Northern growth through repurposing historic mills

Published 23 September 2021, this document re-assesses the re-use potential of under-used and vacant mills, identifies their possible contribution to rebalancing the country’s economy and improving environmental sustainability, and highlights regeneration success stories since 2017. It is based on a more detailed technical assessment by Cushman & Wakefield.

Read the reports

Additional Information

  • Publication Status: Completed
  • Pages: 80 (North West full report), 2 (North West summary), 84 (West Yorkshire full report), 2 (West Yorkshire summary)


If you require an alternative, accessible version of this document (for instance in audio, Braille or large print) please contact us:

Customer Service Department

Telephone: 0370 333 0607
Email: [email protected]