transformation at Mill

Atherton's Victoria Mill on Bolton Road. Businessman GordonTickle
Atherton's Victoria Mill on Bolton Road. Businessman GordonTickle
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AN ATHERTON retail mill has taken on new tenants - including a dance school run by a former international star.

Victoria Mill, on Bolton Road, welcomed gym Fit ‘n’ Funky and Atherton Indoor Shooting to its site in an attempt to complement its DIY and furniture shopping with a range of leisure activities.

The gym, which has been open in Atherton for eight years, was previously split between two sites, with classes having to be held in a nearby church hall.

The new gym, measuring 6,500 square feet, is three times the size of Fit ‘n’ Funky’s old premises and has two new dance studios in addition to ranks of new machines and a reception area.

The studios will be used by Kayla Humphreys, a graduate of the Peformance College in London who is setting up her own dance school after a professional career which included touring Europe and America.

Kayla’s mother and Fit ‘n’ Funky owner Michelle Spetch, said: “We had become too big for our old premises and this is just perfect.

“We’re taking on three new members of staff in our new building and there’s space for further expansion too.

“Weight Watchers are going to be hosting meetings here too.

“The new dance school is a brilliant opportunity for young people in Atherton to learn from a professional dancer. Kayla will offer ballet, modern, tap, street dance, a bit of everything really.”

And shooting enthusiast Ben Tickle has opened Atherton Indoor Shooting on the mill’s first floor, complete with a 55-yard long range and two 10-metre pistol ranges.

The range is reportedly the UK’s longest indoor shooting venue, and has seen gun sport enthusiasts flocking from all over the country.

Mill owner Gordon Tickle said: “Ben decided to start this new venture after shooting at small, crowded ranges.

“We’ve had people coming from as far afield as Kent and Humberside.

“The guns are all air-powered and they’re fitted with silencers, so the noise they make is just like the clicking of a finger.

“If people want to learn to shoot then they can come down and get tuition on safety and technique, though if they are under 18 they must be accompanied by a parent.”

Some 34 jobs have been created in the last two years, and Gordon says he has plans for further expansion at the four-floor mill.

Plans are afoot to introduce a children’s play centre, to re-open one of the mill’s derelict lodges for fishing, and to take on another 40 to 50 staff over the next two years.

Gordon said: “Before we moved in this was a very deprived area of town, and now it’s alive and vibrant, and the two new businesses have both settled in very well.

“Given the financial climate, I think what we have achieved is nothing short of miraculous.”