The work will restore the Dye House of Thomas Whitty’s original carpet factory, together with its surrounding boundary walls and the Dye Garden will be cleared. The Dye House is the only part of the original factory that survived the 1828 fire which started on 23rd January in an adjoining Malthouse, destroying most of the premises. Thomas Whitty set up his cloth-making business in 1737 in what is now Silver Street. He started to weave carpets in 1755 on the same site. After his death in 1792, his son and grandson continued the business which later became known as Axminster Carpets.
Chairman of the Trustees, John Church said ‘The Dye House has been derelict for many years. Now 300 years from the date of Thomas Whitty’s birth (1716) it seems very appropriate that, thanks to this Making it Local grant, we can start its restoration’
This first part of the final phase of the Axminster Heritage Centre project will now start this winter – ahead of schedule. The work will also see the old toilet block demolished and new toilets/kitchenette constructed, the rear windows of the Drill Hall will be restored and the large double doors to the garden replaced and repositioned.
The Heritage Centre Exhibition Hall will reopen in the spring incorporating the new extended space for the collection, as well as the Dye House and garden. Meanwhile the Bradshaw Meeting Room continues to be used for events and is also available for hire.