The former 19th century piggery – once owned by the employer of Anne Brontë – was purchased by The Engine Room’s managing director Lesley Gulliver and founder Darren Evans, in January 2017. The £225,000 investment was bolstered with £150,000 of funds – including £20,000 of support from the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership – to completely transform the mill into the company’s new HQ.
And what was once a dark, mouldy and disused property is now a vibrant 4,000 sqft space, with the ground floor a bright, open-plan workshop environment open to local businesses.
Keen to salvage as many on-site materials as possible, scaffold boards have been re-used for the centrepiece staircase, for instance, and the old mill door is now the boardroom table. The original wooden flooring covers the entire expanse of The Engine Room’s first floor office, in which the mill’s original industrial hoist is also a key feature.
Outbuildings have been cleared to pave the way for a 12-bay car park, sectioned off with metalwork from the roof. The former car port is now the main reception and an adjoining cottage has already been let.
“It has been a real labour of love,” reflected Lesley. “We are lucky to have worked with some great partners on the conversion, but we’ve also spent many late nights deliberating over the details and managing the build, because we wanted to get it right. We’re definitely thinking of this as our ‘forever home’ – not to mention an extension of our brand – so we put just as much design, thought and effort into it, as we would one of our client projects.”
Transformation of the cellar with brick-vaulted ceiling will continue in 2019. It is hoped that this space will be perfect for a number of small creative business lettings.
Darren added: “It was a big move for us – not just financially, but because we’d been based in Huddersfield since The Engine Room’s journey began 17 years ago. But the timing is perfect. We’re maturing as a business, have shifted towards a pure brand focus, and have our eyes set on the next chapter of growth in 2019. There are two spaces for additional team members too, so York Mills is a very exciting place to be at the moment.”