A CULTURAL attraction is booming with a near 50 per cent rise in visitors since a £1.7 million makeover.

Whitchurch Silk Mill is up 44 per cent on guests than it would usually expect since it re-opened in September, and last month Hampshire County Council announced a further £15,000 boost for the heritage site.

Mill bosses see the attraction becoming a ‘cultural hub’ for the town, and the extra funding will go towards educational and conservation work at the centre, providing events, exhibitions and more.

Whitchurch Silk Mill director Sue Tapliss said: “We are really, really pleased. Grants are going down all the time and they have given us more for educational work and conservation work.”

The refurbishment Ms Tapliss said brought a “new lease of life” to the venue, with facilities for an all-round visitor experience, and fresh events and activities to keep people coming back for more.

She added: “There are wow factors from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) facilities.

“We have been able to invest in a volunteer team, it’s much more attractive for volunteers to work [here] and they make the difference.”

Hampshire County Council’s recreation and heritage chief, Councillor Seán Woodward, said the funding builds on previous monies from the council, which also contributed to the restoration works alongside the HLF grant.

Cllr Woodward added: “Whitchurch Silk Mill is a treasured part of Hampshire’s industrial and architectural heritage.

“Very importantly, the funding will support staff with specialist skills and expertise in this field, including weavers, a heritage skills trainee and four higher education textile students to continue keeping this history alive for current and future generations.

“Our aim over time is to support the enterprise to become a flourishing local business.”