The future of one of the most significant and substantial woven textile archives of national importance in the country has been secured, thanks to the creation of a new not-for-profit company.

Sunny Bank Mills Ltd has been created to safeguard the historic textile archive at Sunny Bank Mills at Farsley.

The new company will be launched on Saturday, September 9, when the venue will open as part of National Heritage Open Days, England’s most popular heritage festival.

The Mills, which were originally built in 1829, have been in the Gaunt family for six generations and are currently owned and managed by cousins John and William.

John Gaunt explained: “We have a substantial textile archive at Sunny Bank Mills which is essentially the company records from Edwin Woodhouse & Co and the contents of all the departments from 1829 until production ceased at the Mills in 2008.

“In 2010, we established the archive in a 3,000 sq feet old warping shed and have subsequently employed curator Rachel Moaby to lead the cataloguing, preservation and development of the archive.”

The nationally important archive consists of: Fabric records including over 300 guard books containing thousands of textile cuttings; over 60,000 lengths of fabric; over 8,000 fabric designs; 5,000 wool dyeing recipe cards; 100 leather bound ledgers and cash books; weaving Looms; photographs and memorabilia and a library of mill-related books.

He added: “It is important to William and I that the archive has a secure future beyond our lifetimes for future generations, so we have taken the decision to create a new company to oversee the management, restoration, conservation, preservation, use and promotion of the archive at Sunny Bank Mills.

“This will facilitate and encourage public use and enjoyment of the archive; to provide educational activities in relation to the archive and to facilitate and encourage creative/ arts activities inspired by the archive. To help make the archive sustainable, the new company will also be able to apply for funding for all these activities.

William Gaunt continued: “We have been incredibly fortunate to persuade Patsy Cullen and Graham Lockwood to join the company as trustees bringing with them a heavyweight combined experience in textiles, the arts and the charitable sector. Their combined skillset make them perfect trustees. “

During the past seven years the multi award-winning Sunny Bank Mills, one of the most famous family-owned mills in Yorkshire, has been transformed into a modern office complex for the 21st century. It is now home to 70 companies, who employ a total of 340 staff.

It is also a best-practice case study in a report “Engines of Prosperity”, on the conversion and regeneration of West Yorkshire’s textile mills prepared by Cushman and Wakefield on behalf of Historic England.

The Sunny Bank Mills Archive is open on the first Wednesday of every month from 10am to 12pm and other times by appointment for groups.

Heritage Open Days run from September 8 to 10, from 10am to 4pm, with mill tours on the hour.