Meet Ziggy's Bears

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Audlem Mill Shop
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Ziggy's Bears will be appearing at Audlem Mill this month by kind permission of their originator Christine Silvester, owner and proprietor with husband Peter of the business. Christine explains that the bears are named after one of her 5 grandchildren, come as a self assembly kit and are the latest addition to her extensive catalogue of needlework designs available for purchase in the Mill or by visiting her website www.abacusdesigns.com.

Peter and Christine took over the shop at Audlem Mill in 2007. The building has an interesting history, built in 1915 as an animal feedstuffs mill powered by a diesel engine. The grain arrived by canal, mainly from America via Liverpool docks and evidence of the loading jib can still be seen on the front of the building. Audlem wharf was a very busy scene then and employed around 35 people in its heyday.

The mill eventually closed in 1970 and was re-opened on the ground floor as a shop selling gifts, maps and canal ware in 1974. It closed again in 2005 until Peter and Christine took it on in 2007 in very bad repair with the plan to regenerate the business as a canal shop using Peter's long time interest and expertise in "all things to do with canals" and Christine's ambition to develop her needlework business even further.

Christine saw the for sale notice about Audlem Mill by chance one day in the Waterways World magazine and persuaded Peter to change his plans for the day to come and view it. They originally saw it as a 10 year project but caught the "Audlem bug" and just love it here. Last year was a real challenge when a breach in the canal near Middlewich made trading conditions very challenging but a glance at the visitor's book shows customers visiting the shop from far and wide, including a lady who comes every 3 years or so from Siberia and another from Iceland.

Christine is especially proud of her needlework business, having been thrown out of the sewing class at school and told she had no talent for it! The Visit Cheshire website says the following : "Audlem Mill, which sits on Audlem Wharf, as well as being a fine canal shop, has just had major success in the British Craft Awards for Stitch Retailer of the Year in the North West, making it one of the best needlework shops in Britain."

Audlem Mill has long championed local artists and for many years featured the work of our local artist Sheila Webster amongst others. Sadly Sheila's painting days are largely behind her and the Mill now works with the Guild of Waterways Artists who select 2 artists each month to have their work displayed at the shop.

Peter graduated with a Law degree in 1967 and spent the next 40 years working in Personnel (as it was then called!) mostly in the Pharmaceutical Industry, then employment law. He has been fascinated by canals for at least 55 years and has now developed a book publishing business run from the Mill for books about canals (23 published to date he says).

He points out that the local economy was for a long time dependent on farming and boating and has worked hard to promote the importance of historic boats to our heritage. The "Gathering of Historic Boats", now an important annual event in the village calender and held over the same weekend as the Transport Festival each year, is the outcome of his hard work. It started in 2009, is funded by the Mill and now attracts up to 35 boats each year some coming from as far as 75 miles away to take part.

The village is indeed fortunate to have Audlem Mill with Peter and Christine in our midst.