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SOMERSET: Tone Works funding

SOMERSET: Tone Works funding

CREDIT: Somerset West And Taunton Council.

Nearly £700,000 will be spent on conserving an historic Somerset building until the outcome of a wider regeneration bid is known.

Somerset West and Taunton Council submitted a bid to the government’s Levelling Up Fund in June, with the aim of securing up to £20M to regenerate the Tonedale Mill, Tone Works and Fox’s Field sites in northern Wellington.

The Tone Works site received two tranches of funding earlier in the coronavirus pandemic to ensure the cultural legacy of the site could be adequately preserved.

The council has now sought a contractor to renovate the Toneworks site, carrying out extensive roof repairs and other maintenance up to June 2022 – by which time the outcome of the levelling up fund bid should be known.

The Tone Works site lies at the northern edge of Wellington along the River Tone, off the B3187 Milverton Road, and serves as the cloth finishing site of the Fox Brothers textile company.

The site, which closed in 2000, is believed to be the only surviving example of its kind in England, and has been in the council’s ownership since 2020.

The council published details of the work which it would be undertaking on the BidStats procurement site, indicating the work would take place between November 2021 and June 2022 at a cost of up to £680,000.

A spokesman said: “The two phases of work are primarily focused on complex repairs to the roof structures.

“Our contractor will constructively and collaboratively contribute to the design, construction methodology and fixed sum of the work, adding value and ensuring the maximum amount of work is deliverable within the currently available budget.”

The council received two separate allocations from the government’s culture recovery fund towards preserving the Tone Works site.

An initial grant of £348,420 was provided in January to decontaminate the site, with a further £400,000 being added in November – with both grants being distributed by Historic England.

Councillor Marcus Kravis, portfolio older for asset management and economic development, said: “We’re delighted to receive a second round of funding from the culture recovery fund, enabling us to take another major step towards the preservation of this historic site.

“Looking after and investing in our heritage helps to define our collective identity and protects livelihoods for some of the most vulnerable heritage
specialists and contractors working in the sector.”

The council submitted a £20M bid to the government’s levelling up fund in June, which if successful would enable both Tone Works and Tonedale Mill to be re-utilised for  “commercial, cultural or creative uses” for the community.

The bid would also include the delivery of allotments, sports pitches, a community farm and the creation of a community forest garden on Fox’s Field, following the council signing a 99-year lease for the field to the Wellington Mills community interest company (WMCIC) in July.

The council is also awaiting the outcome of a separate bid to the government’s cultural development fund, which could secure up to £5M for the ‘Creative Tonedale’ programme of cultural events and activities up to 2025.

Words: Daniel Mumby, Local Democracy Reporter

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