Transformation of 19th century Fife flax mill to create 130 jobs in £10m project

FUNDING from the Levenmouth reconnected programme has provided a ‘huge boost’ to plans to breathe new life into one of Scotland’s last remaining flax industry buildings.

The former Silverburn Flax Mill in Leven’s Silverburn Park is to undergo a £10 million transformation over the coming years as part of plans to turn it into a visitor centre, backpackers’ hostel, café, artist studios, community space, and a shop.

Fife Council said the project will create around 130 jobs, which include construction trainee placements for local young people and roles for people experiencing mental health problems.

The project will receive £500,000 from the Levenmouth reconnected programme fund. The £10 million pot was set up for local community projects ahead of the Leven rail link’s return in 2024.

Further to this, £3.5 million has been awarded from the National Lottery heritage fund, £2 million from Fife Council, £1.5 million from the Scottish Government’s regeneration capital grant fund, £510,000 from Historic Environment Scotland, and ‘around’ £40,000 generated by the Levenmouth community.

The project is being led by Fife Employment Access Trust (FEAT), which first mooted proposals to transform the B-listed building more than a decade ago. The 1850s building sits on 27 acre of park, which FEAT took on the lease for in 2019.

FEAT chief executive, Duncan Mitchell, said, “At times it’s been something of a rollercoaster ride with so many challenges to overcome – our core work has a large focus on developing resilience in people to manage life events and I think we’ve demonstrated resilience of our own over these years to reach this stage.

“Levenmouth reconnected was the final piece of the jigsaw and we’re absolutely delighted that this funding has come through. When the flax mill is open it will coincide with the rail link being open and it should be a destination for visitors. But it will be for local people as well. We’ve got over 250,000 visitors to the park and this will be something new for them, and it will also attract people from further afield who will spend their money in the local area as well.”