Business is booming at retail mill

Atherton's Victoria Mill on Bolton Road.'The indoor shooting range with owner Ben Tickle
Atherton's Victoria Mill on Bolton Road.'The indoor shooting range with owner Ben Tickle

A 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.

Fit ‘n’ Funky owner Michelle Spetch, who is also Kayla’s mother, said: “We had really got too big for our old premises, so when Ian offered us the use of the mill it was just perfect.

“We’re already 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. It’s just an opportunity to take the whole business to the next level.”

In addition, shooting enthusiast Ben Tickle has opened Atherton Indoor Shooting on the mill’s first floor, complete with a 55-yard long range and two 10m 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 to Atherton to have a go.

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, and they are already excited about coming back.

“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.”

The mill has already created 34 jobs in two year, and Gordon has plans for further expansion at the four-floor mill.

They include a children’s play centre and 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.”