Happily our Planning and Listed building consent came through yesterday
2nd May 2013
Happily our Planning and Listed building consent came through yesterday for the great big Asbestos barns on the front of the Mill. Those barns really spoil the main view of the mill from the road and we have been itching to get started on stripping them back to the bare bones and rebuilding them with some style. We were ok to make a start on the interior work prior to planning coming through, but now we can get on with the bulk of the work.
We really like having our furniture being made on site so that visiting customers can see how organised and meticulous our workshops are. Although our old showroom was above the workshop it was really authentic, customers knew they were buying direct from the manufacturer, even if the makeshift showroom was a bit of a let down for those who were comparing us to kitchen retailers with high street showrooms.
I always thought it was such a shame that customers were so often misled as to the quality and origin of the furniture they were buying. There are very few kitchen furniture makers in this country, but you’d have to be sharp to notice. All I can say is if you want to know if it’s the genuine article, do some research before you buy.
As you can imagine that demonstrating we actually do make everything here is super important to me. Since we opened our showrooms at the mill, that’s been missing. Everything’s made at our two workshops in Loughborough, but soon we will be opening a third workshop in one of the barns on the front of the mill. Then, I think Cotes Mill will be the perfect package. You will be able to see carpenters at their benches as you pull up into the car park. The low barn will accommodate two floors of workshops and the tall barn will be a huge galleried showroom with full height glazing overlooking the mill pond. The wall enclosing one of the dilapidated water wheels will be opened up so that the history and immense engineering will be on full view. The water wheels are as big as busses and you can’t help come over all Fred Dibner when you see them in all their disintegrating glory.
Cotes Mill, or Lower Mill as it used to be known, dates back to the Doomsday book and the history is fascinating. We were recently visited by a Lady who grew up here when it was the last working water mill in the county and she kindly lent us loads of photos and documents to copy and study. Sales particulars from 1905 listed the entire inventory which included a huge steam engine to provide even more power. Power sources were few and far between at the time and the Mill’s owner was a very proud industrialist, judging by the photo we have of him posing in front of this mechanical leviathan.
We were also lucky enough to meet the last surviving employee of the mill, well into his 90’s now. He spent a few hours reminiscing and educating us in the workings of the mill. This place takes over your life and anyone who has spent time here has such an emotional attachment that seeing it renovated with such consideration brings tears to their eyes.
Cotes Mill is everything I hoped it would be and thankfully, touch wood, our successful trading has allowed us to continue the renovations at a pace. Last Month, April was our best month ever with 26 kitchens sold countrywide. Talk about good timing, or is it the Cotes Mill Effect starting to work? In about 2 months the barns should be finished and we will have well and truly put the deVOL stamp on this famous landmark.