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Laverstoke Mill site progressing
GIN is expected to start pouring out of the new factory being created between Overton and Whithcurch from next May.
Bosses say the multi-million pound project to convert Laverstoke Mill is going ahead without hitch.
When fully completed later next year, the distillery and visitor centre will boast a cafe, shop, visitor centre and bar on the banks of the River Test, which visitors will be able to access without going into the gin factory itself.
A ‘heritage facility’ will celebrate the history of the mill site, complete with a glass floor through which the original horizontal water wheel can be viewed. It is hoped that 100,000 visitors from around the world will visit the Bombay Sapphire site, boosting local businesses and local pride. Everything should be completed by September 2013.
Will Brix, Bombay Sapphire visitor centre general manager, said: “People ask why we chose the mill. We wanted somewhere really beautiful, with an interesting history and somewhere suitable for redevelopment and conservation.
“When it came down to it, we couldn’t not choose Laverstoke Mill. We would never have found anywhere else like this.” The restoration has involved tearing down some of the more undesirable structures at the site which was used for two centuries by Portal’s to produce banknote paper for the Bank of England, before production ended there about 50 years ago. The new facility will include three Grade II-listed buildings.
Mr Brix said: “It is unusual to have a working factory alongside a tourist attraction and it has taken a long time to work out exactly how it will all work in terms of health and safety.”
Bombay Spirits Company, which is part of Bacardi Ltd, intends to use the site as its sole production facility – making the gin which will be bottled in the north of England. Describing the project as a “restoration rather than a build”, Mr Brix said they are taking great care to restore many of the original buildings and to keep the site’s history in mind.
At the heart of the building will be two innovative glass houses housing 10 botanicals which go into making the beverage.
London-based Heather-wick Studio, which created the cauldron for the London Olympic Games, is leading the design.
Katerina Dionysopoulou, project architect at the studio, said there would be a Mediterranean glass house and a tropical glass house which visitors will be able to walk through.
The project will create 35 new jobs in the area, 10 of which will be in the factory and 25 in the visitor centre and behind the scenes.
Mr Brix said he had already received countless job applications from a wide variety of people.