1st December 2021

Tone Works gets £400k boost from the Culture Recovery Fund

Tone Works in Wellington is among 142 historic sites across England to receive a boost thanks to the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

A grant worth £400,000 has been awarded by Historic England in a second round of the Heritage Stimulus Fund.

Administered by Historic England, the Heritage Stimulus Fund forms part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, designed to safeguard cultural and heritage assets from the economic impact of COVID-19.

The grant will be used to employ specialist conservation contractors, engineers, ecologists and joiners to undertake much needed structural repairs in the next phase to bring Tone Works back to life, giving it a new role in the community.

Until 2000, Tone Works was the cloth-finishing works of Fox Brothers and Co. Ltd., one of the oldest and largest woollen and worsted manufacturers in the South-West of England.

The firm was established in the late 18th century and based at nearby Tonedale Mills.  Tone Works originated as a corn mill that was acquired by Thomas Fox in 1796.  It was developed throughout the 19th and early 20th century into the largest cloth-finishing works in the South West.

Specialised buildings were added in several phases for cloth finishing, dyeing and tentering, together with complex water-, steam- and electric-power systems.  Extensive ponds and watercourses were built to supply the water-power system and to provide large quantities of treated water suitable for use in finishing processes.

By the late 1990s, when the site was listed Grade 2*, Tone Works was exceptionally well-preserved, retaining a complete set of historic machinery and substantial parts of the three power systems.

Tone Works was purchased by the council in 2020.

Cllr Marcus Kravis, Executive Member for Assets at SWT, said: “We’re delighted to receive this 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 latest funding follows a £348,420 grant received from the first round of the Heritage Stimulus Fund in January 2021, which enabled the site to be fully decontaminated for safe commencement of the structural repairs.

SWT also submitted a bid to the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government’s Levelling Up Fund in June, with the aim of realising a broader vision for the Tonedale area.  If successful, the funds will provide an opportunity for SWT working in partnership with stakeholders and the community to sustainably regenerate and transform Tone Works and the natural environment of Wellington for commercial, cultural and creative uses.

Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries, said: “From local churches to ancient buildings and landscapes, the UK’s unique heritage makes our towns, cities and villages stronger, more vibrant and helps bring communities together.  This latest funding – £35 million from our unprecedented Culture Recovery Fund – will help protect sites including Jane Austen’s House and Hampton Court Palace for future generations and help them build back better from the pandemic.”

Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s Chief Executive, said: “Funding from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund is hugely welcome at a time when the people and organisations who look after our vast and varied array of heritage urgently need support to carry out essential repairs.  Heritage is a fragile eco-system, with an amazing cast of characters who keep our historic places alive, with specialist skills that take time to learn and experience to perfect.  These grants will protect their livelihoods, as they use their expertise to help our heritage survive.”