Heritage Open Days 2023

8th-10th September 2023

From Dogstooth to Birdseye at Sunny Bank Mills

Join us for Heritage Open Days 2023 – Creativity Unwrapped, a celebration of Sunny Bank Mills’ industrial heritage with a weekend of site tours, mill trails, free Archive visits, Open Studios with our resident artists, and a new exhibition in the Gallery, Definitions of Drawing II.

Dating from 1829, Sunny Bank Mills was an important woollen & worsted mill, with an interesting history. It is still owned by the family who helped found the Mills in late Georgian times. Across the weekend, you’ll have the opportunity to visit the unique collection in our Archive, containing a complete record of cloth samples woven at the mill since the 1880s; an inspiration for all. The atmospheric Mills still contain artefacts to take you back in time to the days it employed over 900 people spinning and weaving some of the finest cloth in the world. The Archive will be open from 10am-4pm over the three days and you can drop in and explore for free!

Many of the Mills’ independent businesses will also be open over the weekend, as well as our food and drink outlets – Amity (Fri from 1pm; Sat/Sun from 12pm), Botanic Request, Farsley Fire & Smoke, Test Bar, Grumpy’s, Mill Kitchen, and Saint Jude.

Archive Drop-In

The Sunny Bank Mills Archive is a unique resource representing over 180 years of cloth production at the mill and the lives of those who worked here.

It contains more than 60,000 lengths of cloth, 8000 fabric designs, 5000 dye cards, 300 guard books and numerous artefacts associated with nearly 200 years of cloth production, which it aims to preserve for the community and future generations.

Open for free Drop-in visits throughout Heritage Open Days weekend. No pre-booking required!

The Archive is based in Red Lane Mill off Water Lane and is accessible with a level entrance, disabled toilets and parking.

Open 10am-4pm Friday 8th to Sunday 10th September.

Heritage Tours

Learn the story of Sunny Bank Mills and its people. During a one hour tour you’ll visit hidden spaces, hear about the history of the Mills and have the opportunity to ask William or John those burning questions you’ve always wanted answering!

These tours are free to join, but please book a ticket as space is limited. Any donations will go towards preserving our Textile Archive.


Inspiration from the Archive - a talk from artist Jane Walkley

Join Jane Walkley in the Bobbin Room during Heritage Open Days ’23 to hear how she uses Sunny Bank Mills Archive as inspiration for her artwork!

If you visited the Mills for Threads 2023 and were intrigued by Jane’s incredible work as part of Tailored by the 62 Group, this is your opportunity to learn more! During this talk, Jane will discuss her creative process and explain how the Mill’s Textile Archive has influenced her work.

This is a hands on talk with limited capacity, so you will be given plenty of chance to handle and examine Jane’s work and ask questions about her practice.


David Fox - End of Placement Exhibition

Visit the Gallery and Archive corridors to see a brand new exhibition celebrating the work of our Archive placement student, David Fox. Some of you may have seen David’s woven installations, Within the Archive and Coded Pegs during Threads Textile Festival in May. Those pieces will be featured in the exhibition, alongside new unseen work inspired by the Mills’ extensive textile Archive.

David will also be working on his loom in the Weaving Shed throughout the weekend, where visitors will be encouraged to join in and try their hand at weaving too.

Read more about David’s placement and keep up to date with the exhibition’s installation via his Instagram account linked below.

David’s instagram

Online Collection

Explore our Archive collection prior to your Heritage Open Days visit through an exciting virtual tour of the Sunny Bank Mills site and a 360-degree experience of some of the artefacts in our Textile Archive.


Open Studios

Visit our Spinning Mill & Twisting Studios during Heritage Open Days for the opportunity to meet and chat to our fantastic resident artists! See where some of your favourite ceramics and jewellery are made, and explore the studios of a range of local fine artists.

Open 10am – 4pm Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th September. FREE ENTRY.

Please note – both sets of studios are accessed by stairs or wheelchair accessible lifts.