Mill shop on Audlem Wharf a favourite destination

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(The website link that was here no longer works) To the delight of many, Audlem Mill shop re-opened at Easter as this has long been a popular venue for visitors and locals alike. When the previous proprietor, John Stothert, decided to retire last autumn after many years running the business, there was concern that a much-loved Audlem attraction would disappear for ever. Fortunately, there was considerable interest in taking over the business and restoring the building.

The Mill shop on Audlem Wharf is now in the hands of new proprietors Peter and Christine Silvester. The Silvesters previously ran a needlecraft business which specialises in embroidered canal scenes, Abacus Designs in Matlock, Derbyshire, and were suppliers to John Stothert. The ground floor of the Mill is now a canal shop along similar lines to before, with no change to the fabric of the building but with new fittings. The first floor has an emphasis on needlework, rag rugging and various other forms of embroidery, reflecting their previous business which they established in 1993. Peter and Christine live in the second floor flat.

Peter says: "We are selling canal souvenirs and gifts for the family much the same as when the shop was last open, but we hope to build up our name as a specialist needle-crafts business. The canal tourism is relatively seasonal but we think the needlecrafts part of the shop will help bring more people into the village. This will be a specialist part of our business and people can make special orders which others don't provide."

The shop will normally be open from 9.00am until 5.00pm, seven days a week. There will be later opening hours in the summer and, unlike previously, the Mill will be open all year long, although Peter adds: "We may close for one or two days a week during the winter.

A feature will be the art displays, featuring canal art, local artists and other attractive works. There's already a display by popular artists Sheila Webster and Maureen Hinchliffe covering both canal scenes and some very attractive still-life work — paintings of Iris Heads and a Magnolia Stellata were particularly outstanding. There's also work by Harley Crossley, who specialises in knife paintings in oil, including a number of Audlem Wharf scenes, with the paint built up on the canvass with consummate skill. Local artists can arrange to display their work on a commission basis. A strong book section is also being developed, largely canal and needlework related.

The building itself has received a major refurbishment, with much work on the flooring, while retaining all the character that has made it a favourite destination. Outside, the brickwork has been re-pointed. Peter says: "We are very pleased with the results of the renovation work, and we have had many complimentary comments from both local residents and visitors by boat."

Future plans include courses on needlework and, hopefully, there will be a link-up with other local courses on, for example, canal art.

The re-opening of this very popular business will be seen as very good news for Audlem, its tourist appeal and the local economy. Peter and Christine Silvester have already put an enormous amount of work in to re-opening the business. They have told Audlem Online how excited they are to have taken over the Mill, and they are keen to get involved in Audlem life.