Weavers Factory: How to build an art house

Weavers Factory is an inventive and welcoming art gallery that aims to champion the under-represented. It also comes with a compelling backstory

We live in an age where everyone is obsessed with stories. From brands to reality TV stars, podcasts to novels, we all know the value of a good old yarn – the more compelling and relatable, the better. But even in this time of endless narratives, every now and then you hear of a tale that proves remarkable. Sometimes, perhaps too often, this is due to the sheer awfulness of the story, but occasionally it’s down to its unexpected joy.

The tale of the Weavers Factory falls, I’m happy to report, into the latter category. The gallery, which opened in April this year in Uppermill, a small village in Saddleworth near Manchester, hosts an eclectic and interesting series of contemporary art shows, but it also comes with a fascinating backstory.

The space is run by Julian ­Bovis and Nigel Durkan, a couple who inherited the house that now contains the gallery from their neighbour, designer and artist Joan Charnley, in 2016 when she died at the age of 88. The trio had only met four years previously, when Bovis and Durkan first moved to Uppermill, but in that short time had developed a relationship more akin to family than friendship. Despite this closeness, the couple had no idea of Charnley’s plans until after she had died, when a solicitor contacted them to give them the news.


Milton Keynes