THE imposing Ena Mill is earmarked to become a top attraction for shoppers and a heritage centre.

The five story building that is a Grade Two listed building was built 102 years ago and for almost 90 years played a prominent role in Britain's textile industry.

The building whose chimney is an Atherton landmark is being turned into a shoppers paradise and a magnet for those who appreciate the area's industrial past.

Now Atherton businessman Simon Yates, who runs the QS (Big Label) store based there, aims to take the towering mill to greater heights by converting it into an outlet for major retail brands - and also as mill machinery museum.

And Mr Yates, whose father Les, a former market stallholder had the vision to rescue the Flapper Fold Lane mill and rejuvenate it and its 3.5 acre site, reckons his plans will help bring prosperity to the town.

"We're currently selling off our stock at half price and the store will close in late summer then re-open on September 17 with a brand new image," Mr Yates told the Journal this week.

Currently workmen are busy behind the scenes doubling the size of the vast floorspace by opening up non structural partition walls creating a new look home for fashion and household goods.

But there is a twist in the tale.

"We will also be creating an educational facility with mill machinery from Trencherfield at Wigan being relocated here to create a museum and some of that machinery was originally part of the Ena Mill," explained Mr Yates.

"Wigan Council were delighted.

"It will soon be a case of 'look for the chimney' and Atherton is in a central position to attract people from throughout the north west.

"All the brands we are bringing in are not going to hurt Atherton but attract more people with a spin-off for existing businesses in town.

"The Ena Mill will be like Oswaldtwistle Mills, Boundary Mill, Batley Mill and the Lowry Centre."

And although staff will be made redundant during the closure while structural work is carried out they will be given the opportunity to reapply for their positions and Mr Yates said extra jobs would be created.