AN 18th century mill used by thousands of visitors as a youth hostel has been bought by a higher education college.
Newcastle-under-Lyme College has confirmed it is buying Gradbach Mill Youth Hostel to use as an outdoor education centre.
The mill, which is sited near The Roaches and Flash village, was put on the market by the Youth Hostel Association because its income was declining and profits from the sale were needed to invest in other properties.
So Newcastle-under-Lyme College has stepped in to ensure the stunning 18th century mill continues to be used for outdoor pursuits.
Craig Hodgson, the college's Vice Principal said: “Gradbach Mill will provide a beautiful setting for our students and youngsters from partner schools to enjoy experiential and outdoor learning.
“We also believe Gradbach will be a great asset to the wider community, who can benefit from using the mill as a residential training centre.” The college plans to renovate and refurbish the property in the first half of 2014.
The sale involves the 92-bedroom youth hostel mill and two ancillary detached buildings in the form of an expansive stone built farmhouse, together with staff accommodation and 16.86 acres of land.
The sale was conducted by informal tender with a guide price set at £350,000.
The estate agent’s guide said: “The cluster of properties occupy a glorious Peak District setting at the foot of the valley along which the River Dane runs.
“The main building comprises a magnificent two-story wide front structure and this is complemented by a redundant farmhouse which is ancillary to the main building as indeed, is the detached two-storey built building to the rear that is currently utilised as staff accommodation.
“The whole is generally well maintained and has successfully operated for a number of years as a 92-bed youth hostel and is equipped as such, impressively so, for that matter, and provides extensive sleeping accommodation with ancillary showers, toilets and set within 16.86 acres.” The agent stated that it is understood the property originates from the 18th century and records suggests that it was badly damaged in a fire in 1785, and was subsequently all but rebuilt.
It was one of two in the area that was used for the manufacture of flax in the mid-19th century.
Subsequently, it was used as a Silk Mill, and more recently as a saw mill.
Newcastle-under-Lyme College has grown significantly over the past 10 years and currently has around 3,600 full-time students and more than 400 students on higher education programmes.
In addition there are more than 800 part-time adult learners, 1,400 employees of local companies on work-based training programmes and 1,250 apprentices.
In January 2010 the college opened its doors to a new £60m campus. And work has started on a new £5m theatre to house the college’s performing arts centre which is planned to open in autumn 2014.