SION MILLS - Historic Irish Linen Mill and Village. The "Rolls Royce" of the Linen industry, Sion Mills produced the finest Linen in the world for 170 years. The village, with its 40 listed buildings, houses a close-knit community of all denominations created by the Herdmans who founded it all in 1835. This is the story of a very special and beautiful place that sets an example for a peaceful future for Northern Ireland.
About Sion Mills and its Buildings Preservation Trust
The historic linen village of Sion Mills, Co Tyrone was founded by the Herdman family in 1835 and the government created it a Conservation Area in 1977 - one of the earliest in Ireland. A concerned community in every Conservation Area which includes important heritage buildings in need of care and protection, should consider forming a Buildings Preservation Trust as a vehicle to access the necessary funding needed to ensure they survive well into the future. Sion Mills has several important listed buildings and Sion Mills BPT's remit covers the whole Conservation Area.
Herdmans Mill comes as a package of buildings, listed B+, which are interdependent in telling the story of the flax-spinning process. They are also on the Buildings at Risk register since the Trust's application to the Heritage Lottery Fund was turned down in 2005 (see below). The archives show that the Old Mill on the river is probably the earliest fireproof mill in Ireland (built by 1840). This was in doubt after a report, written in 1994 for the Environment & Heritage Service NI, stated that it had been rebuilt in 1867, but the Trust has recently unearthed and is safeguarding all the Ledgers from 1835 on and there was major construction on the Old Mill site and purchase of machinery up till 1840. After that, apart from a 3rd storey being added to the Old Mill in 1879, the only construction of any note was when the Main Mill (5 storeys) was built in 1853-55, and the yellow brick extensions added in 1884-88 - all designed by the well-known architect William Lynn of Belfast. There was no building work undertaken in 1867.