Our Tribute to Mike Bower
Our tribute to Mike Bower
In September 2017, our Board Room was renamed the Mike Bower Board Room to honour Mike’s vision for the development and future use of Aizlewood’s Mill.
As our history shows, in the early 1980s Aizlewood’s Mill was a derelict, rat infested eyesore with the threat of demolition looming over it. Mike saw the potential of this historic building and formulated the plan of converting it into offices for the benefit of co-operatively owned organisations as well as saving an important part of Sheffield’s Heritage for future generations.
(Photo left: Mike Bower at Aizlewood’s Mill during the renovation)
It was not an easy job. Mike was Chair of Education for Sheffield City Council at the time, later to become Leader, and jugging the demands of these positions alongside trying to persuade others understand his passion for this project was particularly difficult. On top of the problems of purchasing the building, there were huge obstacles to overcome before funding could be secured. Aizlewood’s Mill needed to be formally recognised for its historical importance before any funding bids would be accepted so Listed Building status needed to be applied for and achieved. Even then, it’s hard to generate the support required to renovate a building that needed more money to renovate than its estimated worth.
In partnership with Mike King and Mike Powell and the support of Sheffield City Council, Mike Bower was able to secure that funding from English Heritage, a European Development Fund and a commercial loan. Looking at Aizlewood’s Mill today and remembering that demolition was a real possibility back in the 1980s we honour Mike for his determination and tenacity in bringing this landmark building back to life.
(Photo Left: Gordon Brown, Cath Beatty, Alan Dootson, Michael Sharpe and Mike Bower at Aizlewood’s Mill 25th Anniversary Celebration)
At the dedication ceremony, led by Lord Mayor and SCDG Board Member Anne Murphy, friends and colleagues of Mike Bower also honoured his successes throughout wider Sheffield. Mike always worked hard to bring to fruition his ideas for long term stability for Sheffield, often without the support of the Council at the time. The ‘Heart of the City’ project was one of Mike’s projects, bringing together the Winter Gardens, Millennium Gallery and Peace Gardens. He was also involved in the inception of Supertram which was generally disliked at the time but has stood the test of time and Sheffielders find themselves bemoaning delays to its expansion to Rotherham and beyond.
Lord Mayor Anne Murphy, Frances Homewood and Peter Price at the dedication event.