The completely derelict mill building has been sympathetically restored to become one of the most exciting entertainment venues in the Leeds region.
The venue now hosts an ambitious and eclectic mix of music, comedy, theatre and the spoken word.
Upcoming acts include the Beat, the legendary 2-Tone Punk Ska Reggae Group celebrating their 40th Anniversary; Wolfgang Flur, electronic percussionist with influential Kraut rockers Kraftwerk; Dave Ball, and founder member of Soft Cell, in conversation with Guardian journalist Dave Simpson.
There will also be appearances by pop star-turned-vicar the Rev Richard Coles, mountaineer Simon Yates and Baga Chipz, one of the stars of Ru Paul’s mega-popular Drag Race.
The Old Woollen, which has a capacity of 450 (225 seated), is run by William and John Gaunt, owners of the award-winning Sunny Bank Mills, in conjunction with Yorkshire events company Trouble At Mill.
William Gaunt explained: “Bringing the Old Woollen back to life was a true labour of love. The building had been completely derelict for 50 years and had fallen into an advanced state of dilapidation. So far we have spent £150,000 on bringing back a section of the ground floor into use.
“We have ambitious plans to redevelop the whole building, once funds have been secured. We have intentionally left the Old Woollen in a state of ‘arrested decay’ which gives the audience a direct connection with the past.
“We have been absolutely delighted with the acts we have been able to book so far and the reaction to them. This year’s line-up is equally exciting. It has been a great success story and maintains the mill’s proud connection with the arts, as both Yorkshire Television’s Emmerdale and Heartbeat were filmed here, and we have a thriving art gallery on site, too, ” said Mr Gaunt."
The Old Woollen was one of the first mill buildings at Sunny Bank, dating back to 1830. It was built by a group of men who included John and William Gaunt’s ancestor John Gaunt.
It was originally used for a process called “scribbling” and “fulling”. Scribbling was the process of combing the wool fibres in order to straighten them. Fulling was the process of washing and shrinking the cloth after it had been woven. This made the cloth thicker and stronger.
“Working together we know the Old Woollen has an incredible vibe, with some brilliant acts." said, Dick Bonham, a director of Trouble At Mill.
"People always say to us they can’t believe things like this are happening in a place called Farsley - well, this is only the beginning and we are delighted to share some of the great events we have in store – with many more to come.”
Interestingly, the building – until recently – had no toilets. That’s because, before the advent of modern chemicals, urine was collected and used to clean the wool in the “fulling” process.