AN HISTORIC mill is set to be converted into industrial units after changing hands for more than £250,000.

Industrial and commercial space for up to 20 businesses are planned for the former James Proctor Ltd premises on Cow Lane, Burnley after the acquisition.

The James Proctor business, which manufactured boilers and heating equipment had traded from the site for decades and the firm itself has been in existence in the town for 110 years.

The remaining staff were laid off and the business was liquidated in June last year.

The company had suffered with the onset of the eco-friendly era and the need for greener technology and could not afford to invest in the new capital equipment necessary to compete in the new market.

The property agent handling the deal for the 20,000 sq ft, two storey mill, is Jonathan Wolstencroft from Rentaunit.

He said: “The closure of James Proctor Ltd was very sad after playing such a longstanding role in Burnley’s industrial past.

“I was told that the equipment it manufactured was so essential to the war effort in the 1940s that the men who worked there were exempted from military service.

“However, the completion that took place on Tuesday shows that commercial property investment is still taking place in East Lancashire.”

The new owner, whose identity has not been disclosed is described by Mr Wolstencroft as “a locally-based investor who has other commercial properties in the area”.

The origins of the former firm date back to James Proctor, who had the idea for stoking boilers automatically whilst working as an engineer.

His experiments resulted in the first patent for his invention in 1875 which he named ‘Proctor’s Mechanical Stoker’.

Almost 50 more patents were taken out for improvements, modifications and alterations during the next few years and in June 1902 the company was registered as James Proctor Ltd.