Exploring the museum

4. Wellington Mill

Wellington Mill has been a hat factory, bicycle factory, snooker hall and bike shop. It was built to spin cotton in 1828, however, it's better known as the home of W Make Hats, part of the Ward family’s business empire.

Sarah Ward was a key figure in building the retail side of the enterprise. She took sole control of their shop in Stockport Market Place at the age of 29 whilst raising 3 small children. She expanded the business to Lower Hillgate and opened a warehouse on High Street. When Sarah retired, she passed a thriving business to her sons, William and Edwin whose company became Ward Bros. They purchased Wellington Mill in 1895 and continued the hatting and outfitting business.

The mill fell into disrepair but was brought back to life in the mid-1990s thanks to a development grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. A scheme of mixed use, including apartments and the museum was created. Now the mill also is also home to Arc Centre and Gallery. Arc is one of the UK’s leading arts and mental health organisations. They run a programme of public creative workshops, exhibitions and events.