"BLOOD, sweat, and tears" have gone into turning a historic cotton mill into a new home for a cinema, music studio, sports facilities, and much more.

Working on a "shoestring budget", the team at Leigh Spinners Mill have redeveloped the 100-year-old building into a vibrant hub that houses 65 local businesses and community organisations - with a further 40 on the waiting list.

It's a "real cooperative", general manager Jo Platt tells me, where local people are working together to regenerate the mill and offer a range of products, services and support all under one roof.

Leigh Journal: Leigh Spinners' first mill was constructed in 1913 and the second in 1925 (Pic: Wigan Council)Leigh Spinners' first mill was constructed in 1913 and the second in 1925 (Pic: Wigan Council)

Following decades of disuse, the regeneration project began in 2014 once the sole occupants of the Mill, carpet and turf manufacturers Leigh Spinners Ltd, began renting out space to local organisations.

Acquiring investment from various funding streams, the project quickly gathered pace following the appointment of former Leigh MP Jo Platt as general manager in 2019.

Since then, it has been a process of incentivising businesses to take up units and repurposing the industrial space, while retaining the historic features of the Grade 2 listed building.

Leigh Journal: Jo Platt with members of AIM Northwest, a domestic violence charity in the MillJo Platt with members of AIM Northwest, a domestic violence charity in the Mill

Speaking about the size of the regeneration task, Ms Platt said: "It's been a real labour of love to get this project up and running.

"We haven't been eligible for the Levelling Up fund or other large pots of funding, so with the help of our fantastic volunteers, we have just had to work hard and collect pots of money where we can.

"But this is what I see as real 'Levelling Up'; working hard and quietly getting on with improving our community."

Leigh Journal: Large industrial artefacts still reside inside the MillLarge industrial artefacts still reside inside the Mill

While there are plans to redevelop each mill at Spinners - built on either side of the First World War - the five-floor 3,100 square-metre Mill 2 is the structure currently under development 

A tour of Mill 2 begins with a museum and heritage area, which contains information on the history of the building along with industrial-scale artefacts from its cotton mill heydays. 

Trying to keep similar organisations on each floor, the Mill's Second Floor houses a number of sports facilities such as a gym, jujitsu, boxing, archery, and table tennis facilities - used by communities, sports clubs and schools.

Leigh Journal: The Mill has numerous sports facilities insideThe Mill has numerous sports facilities inside

Encompassing a wide range of organisations, Floor 3 is home to a host of local businesses, start-ups, and charities.

This includes media and marketing companies, electricians and engineers, domestic violence and human rights charities, and a music studio-come-bar.

Designed as a cultural space, the recently opened (and still under construction) Floor 4 will be home to a community of artists, galleries, studios, and theatre groups.

Although not yet developed, Floor 5 will be constructed in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University to create an event space, local business support, and a social innovation hub.

Leigh Journal: The Music Centre studio and bar is on Floor 3 of the MillThe Music Centre studio and bar is on Floor 3 of the Mill (Image: The Music Centre)

It is also the home of the new Leigh Film Factory, which has been funded entirely through public donations and built almost exclusively with recycled materials, and is due to start screening later this month.

Speaking about the new cinema, which began as a small film club in Tyldesley back in 2013, Paul Costello, said: "Film crosses all the generations. It's a way to bring the community together and put on a great film for families, friends, children, and the socially isolated.

"We are an independent cinema so we can show whatever film people want to see, with the option to stay at the bar afterward and speak about what you just saw.

"The people of Leigh have funded this and made it happen [...] and we have had some fabulous feedback.

"My favourite comment was someone saying 'this is what going to the cinema used to be like'.

"It's all very exciting and we hope people keep finding us and keep enjoying what we're doing." 

Leigh Journal: Paul Costello, one of the founders of Leigh Film FactoryPaul Costello, one of the founders of Leigh Film Factory (Image: Leigh Journal)

Ms Platt added: "Blood, sweat, and tears have gone into making the project what it is and I think everyone volunteering or working here knows the value of it in our community.

"It's these people and the local community that is going to drive this project further, and I think it's a real success story of everyone working together on a shoestring budget.

"There is so much talent here in Leigh, and now we have a space to utilise this and showcase it."