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TV date for Leicester's Friars Mill

Published on Wednesday, July 27, 2016

THE RESTORATION of the oldest surviving factory in Leicester will feature in a programme on prime-time TV on Friday (29 July).

Presenter Dave Myers joined conservation specialists William Anelay Ltd on site last year to watch the final stages of the 18-month restoration of Friars Mill – the derelict 18th century mill complex that was nearly lost to fire in 2012.

Following the city council’s intervention, and a £7.1million restoration project, the mill buildings have now been carefully restored  – and viewers will be able to see the results on BBC2 on Friday.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “The redevelopment of Friars Mill has been a huge undertaking but I am proud that we have been able to bring these buildings back into use.

“The contractors have done a wonderful job, completing a painstaking restoration project and helping to preserve a fascinating chapter in the city’s industrial heritage.

“People watching the programme on Friday will be able to learn about the history of the Donisthorpe factory and see how the burnt-out building has been transformed into modern workspaces.”

In its heyday, the Donisthorpe factory would have relied on the river and canal network to transport its goods around the country. Now, following the installation of four new mooring points outside the former factory, boats are once again calling at Friars Mill.

National waterways charity the Canal & River Trust has installed the new moorings on the banks of the Soar, providing space for up to four boats as well as water and electricity points. 

On the opposite bank, a new information panel has been installed, summarising the industrial heritage of the area and celebrating the completion of the restoration project.

The panel explains that Friars Mill got its name from the Black Friars’ priory that once stood on the site – and reveals that Donisthorpe & Co was founded in 1739 by the man who invented the wool-combing machine.

It also shows images of Donisthorpe’s trademark ibex, which featured on its cotton reels and packaging and which now stands on top of the refurbished factory once again.

Episode 15 of The Hairy Builder, featuring Friars Mill, will be broadcast at 7pm on Friday 29 July on BBC2.