For 11 years, the dedicated team of staff and volunteers at Fife Employment Access Trust (FEAT) have worked tirelessly to bring bold plans for the regeneration of the Silverburn Flax Mill to fruition. Now, thanks to a grant from the Community Ownership Fund, capital works to transform the B-listed building will begin this month.
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 park has had many past lives, from processing Flax to housing soldiers during the Second World War to being used as a petting zoo.
After over twenty years of delivering on their mission to support individuals with mental health problems to find and sustain work, FEAT took over Silverburn Park and its Flax Mill. Now in derelict condition and on the Buildings at Risk Register, the Mill is a rare survivor of Scotland's historic flax industry and is of great symbolic importance to the community in Leven, Fife, its home.
Images: The exterior of Silverburn Flax Mill. Photos courtesy of Fife Employment Access Trust.
With specialist project management by Fife Historic Buildings Trust - a building preservation trust working to secure long-term futures for historic buildings at risk in Fife - FEAT is transforming the Mill into a café and restaurant, an arts and crafts studio, a backpacker's hostel, and a permanent home for its important mental health support services. The park will be a space for well-being, a provider of employment and volunteering opportunities, an economic boost to the community, and a source of income for the charity, increasing its resilience through reducing dependence on grants and donations.
The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) first started supporting FEAT to develop plans for the Silverburn Flax Mill in 2015, awarding the charity a Historic Environment Scotland-supported Project Development Grant, followed by two additional grants in 2017 and 2021. In 2020, FEAT also received a crucial loan from the Heritage Impact Fund and capacity-building assistance via RePlan, the AHF's in-house programme, to solidify the charity's vision for the Flax Mill.
In response to increases in capital costs following unforeseen inflationary and material cost rises, the Silverburn Flax Mill project has recently been awarded a significant grant increase of £1,200,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Following this, the Community Ownership Fund grant of £250,000 is the necessary final piece of the jigsaw for the project, enabling the initial structural works to commence.
Throughout the restoration, FEAT will continue to run their core charitable offering, extensive activity and volunteering programme, and award-winning eco-pod and coffee hutch loved by visitors from near and far.
Transformative works to the Silverburn Flax Mill are scheduled to be completed by March 2026, when this building will become a sustainable and iconic centre piece for Silverburn Park, benefiting the people of Levenmouth and beyond.
For more information, please visit: Silverburn Park | Camping - Cafe - Woodland Walks