With help from the Architectural Heritage Fund, the development phase of the project to restore Silverburn Flax Mill has been successfully completed. Located near Leven on the Fife Coastal Path, the 19th-century, B-listed building will now progress into the next stage of regeneration, and is soon to be returned to its former glory.
Once an estate owned by the Russell family of the Tullis Russell paper-making business, the grounds of Silverburn Park were gifted to Leven Town Council in the 1970s. The Flax Mill, established by the Russells, has had many past lives: from processing Flax to housing soldiers during the Second World War. Most recently, it was a petting zoo that closed in 2002. After Fife Employment Access Trust (FEAT) took over the derelict Silverburn Park in 2013, however, plans to develop the former industrial Flax Mill into a health and community hub fell into place.
Established in 1994, FEAT are a charitable organisation directly supporting individuals with mental health problems by providing them with the resources to find and sustain work. The AHF started helping FEAT develop plans for the Silverburn Flax Mill in 2015, awarding them with an Historic Environment Scotland supported Project Development Grant. Two more grants have been awarded since, received in 2017 and 2021, respectively.
But the involvement of the AHF continues in other ways too, including loan support from our Heritage Impact Fund. In 2020, FEAT also received help from RePlan, our service providing expert advice and guidance to help scale up projects, which has helped the group to complete their vision for the Flax Mill.
With ongoing support from the AHF, the Silverburn Flax Mill continues fundraising to enable its plans to be fully operational by 2025, when it will give a permanent home for FEAT’s important mental health support services. Its renovation, including plans for a café and restaurant, arts and crafts studio, and a backpacker’s hostel, will provide jobs for the unemployed and generate income to sustain the building's future.