Between 2017 and 2019 significant works were carried out to Queen's Mill supported by generous funding from Power to Change. The project was a resounding success and has opened up so many spaces within the Mill.
Here are some of the improvements we made:
The lift was installed and has provided access to the three floors in the Island Wing of the Mill. This has enabled us to deliver community activities on all three floors.  : As an unexpected bonus, we were also able to break through to the Heart of the Mill section of the building and have the lift stop on two additional floors.  : This has enabled us to offer access to our milling floor, where we provide public demonstrations, and our museum floor which is under development.
A bespoke wooden staircase was commissioned to give access to the community room and three new office spaces.  :The staircase is strong and sturdy and has been much admired! A further additional bonus was that due to the involvement of our volunteers, we were able to save money on some of the project labour costs and this enabled us to commission an additional staircase in the Heart of the Mill.
Three new office spaces have been created and one of the rooms is now used as the Heritage Trust office, as an increase in staff meant our original office space was impractical.
As with the office spaces, the Community Room has received new electrics, heating, windows and floor covering. This is now hired by groups and used for our own community activities.
The initial part of this project was the demolition of the existing workshop space, and the obtaining of planning permission for the new building.  : The Boathouse was then constructed using an insulated concrete formwork method of building which meant much of the construction could be carried out by our volunteers, again saving labour costs. The Boathouse has three separate rooms and all are now rented out to individual businesses.
This was the final element of the project and was completed over a four week period and filmed by a TV Production company specialising in demolitions. We are now considering alternative ways of generating income from this site.
On taking advice from the Fire Service around fire exits and capacity of the new rooms we had created we realised that further measures were required in order to have a safe building and to maximise the capacity of each room. This included a new fire alarm system and a bridge which would link the Island gallery to the main building via an alternative exit route. Thanks to additional funding from Power to Change, both these facilities were delivered. The bridge is now used as a ‘viewing platform’ for the river, and an additional ‘break-out’ space for functions.
Publicity and tourism With new, accessible, flexible spaces, we have been able to increase the number of activities and events held at the Mill. This includes those delivered by the Trust, but also events run by external organisations or individuals who hire spaces. These have included music concerts, theatre performances, private parties, conferences, etc. In turn this has opened up the Mill to new audiences and users, and through feedback at our own events we have seen people coming from further afield.
The Mill is recognised as a Community Anchor for the Wakefield District and is becoming an increasingly vibrant community hub.  : Our community activities and events are increasing, bringing new participants, from families and young children at events such as our Science Saturday and Roman Day, right through to over 65s as part of our Connecting Communities project. Our new craft afternoons are seeing children who are home educated working alongside older people, and our Wednesday Activity Afternoons welcome people with dementia and people who have had strokes. The music concerts, theatre performances and a new Craft Beer shop which has recently opened on site have all brought new audiences to the Mill. The music school and the Desmond Family Coast to Coast Canoe Trail project predominantly work with young people, the Canoe Trail specifically working with 16 to 25 year olds.
Thanks to the Power to Change grant, we have created spaces to enable us to deliver our community activity, welcome new tenants and help our existing tenants to increase the size of their premises. Queen’s Mill can genuinely offer ‘something for everyone’ and is becoming embedded in the life of the town.
Quotes from evaluation
‘the children enjoyed the activities, it is great that you do these days’ - event visitor
‘I had a stroke 2 ½ years ago and have not been out of the house since, coming to the Wednesday group has allowed me to regain my life’ - activity participant
‘This activity has been a godsend, it helped her communicate and she was smiling whilst remembering’ - carer of a lady with dementia, attending a reminiscence session
‘super, sensational, magical’ - event visitor
‘best thing I’ve done in my life, made me feel like people care’ - volunteer
‘I enjoy it very much, very friendly and helpful, it has opened my horizons’ - anonymous, activity participant