23rd February 2007 at 00:00
istoric Scotland is to open its first scientific education centre, with teachers involved in its development from the start.

Stanley Mills, near Perth, closed as a working cotton mill in 1989 after 200 years in production, but is now part of a major restoration project by the Scottish Executive agency.

The more modern parts of the complex have been converted into housing but the oldest buildings, which formed the original mill established on the site, have been earmarked as a pound;5 million educational visitor centre.

Sue Mitchell, education manager, says the 18th century mill complex is interesting from the perspective of the industrial revolution because it dates back to Richard Arkwright's patented water power frame.

"This is an unusual building because it has a lot of social history with the potential for science and technology," she said. "For Historic Scotland and our education programmes, that is something entirely new."

When completed, the centre will show how the River Tay was diverted to power the mill and how that power was transformed throughout the complex.

Although the new visitor centre is not expected to open fully until spring next year, it is hoped it will open for education use this autumn. "The big part of Stanley Mills will be the fact that we are looking at how water power was used," says Mrs Mitchell. "You will be able to look out the window and see where the wheel pits and the water wheels were."

As an additional strand to the industrial history of the centre, poetry will also form a part of the education programme. As many of the mill workers in the 18th century were Gaelic speakers from the Perthshire glens, Historic Scotland has commissioned poet Aonghas MacNeacail to write a series of poems in Gaelic, Scots and English which will be displayed in the visitor centre.

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