Our Home

Islington Mill, Our home and cultural hub.  We were really fortunate to be given a space and have loved every minute of being around such a wonderful, vibrant community.  We are currently in our third studio which used to be the music venue.


We got our first studio across the courtyard from the main building 8 years ago.  It was big, filled with the mills detritus and in the winter, really cold but it was amazing!  We learnt our craft in this unit, Jermyn lived there for a bit and there were a few outrageous parties.


The second studio was in New Islington Mill which is directly across the courtyard from the original Islington Mill.  This was a top floor studio with views into the courtyard and out to Old Trafford. This studio had carpet and some heating which was an absolute luxury!  We honed our craft in this studio and really pushed our level of screen printing.


Finally, 18 months ago we got the chance to take over the old venue as it was not being used.  This allowed us to expand the education and workshop side of the business as we now had a ground floor space which could accommodate groups and visitors.  Sally began Salford Makers which offers public workshop while keeping one69A for institutional workshop and education offerings.


History of the Building

Islington Mill, Our home and cultural hub was built in 1823 by David Bellhouse and was used for cotton spinning.  One year after construction part of the mill collapsed killing a number of workers, including children.  That part of the mill was rebuilt and a new toilet block was added. By 1900 a new staircase was added and the mill was used for textile doubling rather than cotton spinning.  It has had various incarnations over the years, from a clothing warehouse open to the public, to producing high end mixing desks for the music industry.


Bill Buys the Mill

Bill owns the mill.  In 1996 Bill took the lease on a single floor of the mill to create his own art.  A year later the building was put up for sale and Bill managed to get the funds together to buy it.  This allowed him to slowly start renovating, building and creating Manchester’s most well known studio complex.  Initially the focus was on the arts with the first studios being built and exhibitions taking place. In 2000 the first incarnation of the music venue and nightclub was created.

Over the next 16 years this venue became known throughout the world for its avant-garde music and nights. This venue spawned the music festival Sounds From The Other City which is in its 15th year.  Sounds is a major festival for smaller, new bands in the Manchester area, regularly featured on 6 music and the underground music press. Some of the larger, well known acts to have graced the Islington Mill stage include Peaches, Death Grips, Bjork, Le Tigre and Grimes.


Artists of the Mill

Over the years the mill has supported over 5000 artists from over 35 countries.  Some people pop in for a few hours, some stay for a decade. You know when you have been through the mill!  The freedom, experimentation and creativity allows everyone to express themselves in whichever medium they create work in.  The support and openness of the residents helps take work to another level.


Some notable artists that have been through the mill include The Ting Tings.  They lived at the mill when their number one single ‘That’s not my name’ hit the charts.


Video Jam started at the mill creating, curating and commissioning film and performances accompanied with live music.  They have won various awards and recently worked with the Barbican Centre for a performance series.


GNOD are a multi-instrumental noise crew that changes lineup, sound and technique but never changes their attitude to creating new, forward thinking music.  Known through the global music underground they are constantly creating with two of their members starting a farm, residency space and music hub in Ireland.


The Drag Lab are based on the first floor of the Mill and include Cheddar Gorgeous, Liquorice Black and Anna Phalactic amongst others.  They create unbelievable costumes, makeup and personalities, performing on some massive stages. They are currently starring in Drag SOS on Channel 4.


Rachel Goodyear is an illustrator who uses dark humour to draw humans, animals, blood and carcasses.  She has exhibited around the World and is found in numerous art publications.


The Future of the Mill

In 2014 the Mill was awarded one million pounds from the Arts Council.  This was the first public money towards the £2.2m that is needed to put a new roof on the building and do extensive renovations to take the mill into the future cultural hub.  With help from Salford City Council the mill has taken on Regents Trading Estate which is just behind the main building to start building a multidisciplinary arts hub which will connect the cities of Manchester and Salford.

The next stage was to win funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund which came through in the last 2 months. The future is looking bright for the mill and we are really happy to be at the heart of the most fantastic community. Thanks to Bill, Morry, Mark and all the others along the way that have created this brilliant place.