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First Man snaps up space at ex-Emmerdale mill

The iconic Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley, near Leeds, where YTV’s Emmerdale and Heartbeat were filmed, has a new tenant.

First Man Photography, a thriving photographic and video company run by Adam Karnacz, has moved into a prime business studio at 10 Old Combing, in the heart of the historic mill.

Sunny Bank, one of the most famous family-owned mills in Yorkshire, has been transformed into a 21st century business centre.

Situated in Town Street in the centre of Farsley, the mill has been extensively renovated to provide quality space within an environment steeped in heritage for small and medium-sized businesses in West Yorkshire. Altogether 70 companies are now on site, creating 350 new and sustainable jobs.

John Gaunt, joint managing director of Edwin Woodhouse Ltd, the owners of Sunny Bank Mills, said: “We are delighted to welcome such an exciting company like First Man photography to the community at Sunny Bank Mills. We believe the pedigree of business we are attracting is a testament to the quality of our £7m refurbishment.

“We are especially pleased to have been able to conclude a deal in these most challenging and testing of times. The Covid-19 pandemic has turned the whole world upside down, with the commercial property market almost grinding to a halt.

“So we are proud to welcome a new tenant to Sunny Bank Mills in this difficult climate. We trust that Adam will find Sunny Bank Mills to be the perfect base for his expanding business. We have been striving to make Sunny Bank an inspirational place to be for over ten years now and this is paying dividends, as people are now slowly thinking about returning to their workplace.

“We still have space to let, from 600 sq ft to 1,500 sq ft, not just in our iconic 1912 Mill, where Emmerdale and Heartbeat were filmed, but also in Red Lane Mill and the Mending Rooms,” he added.

Adam said: “After working in London for ten years, my family and I moved up to North West Leeds. We initially lived in Rodley and also got to know Farsley for the local shops, cafes and restaurants which included the Mill Kitchen at Sunny Bank.

“I then became aware of the wider Sunny Bank Mills site and the vibrant artistic scene it fostered. We eventually moved to Farsley in 2018 and SBM felt like a natural fit for my business – and happened to be walking distance from home.

“I became a full-time professional photographer in March 2018. Having done landscape photography since I was 16 years old, I had started making videos for my YouTube channel, where I went out into the mountains on an adventure to capture some amazing images. People started tuning in and the channel now has over 125,000 subscribers and nearly ten million views.

“Lockdown has been extremely challenging. My usual commercial work, workshops, tours, talks and shoots have all be postponed or cancelled. Now, taking the space at Sunny Bank will allow me to create content in a dedicated space and to a higher quality.

“As landlords, the Gaunts were very helpful. It is, however, very strange meeting people, who you may do business with for years to come, and not being able to shake their hand.”

Sarah-Jayne Lishman of marketing agents Dove Haigh Phillips, said: “The owners of Sunny Bank Mills took the brave decision to invest heavily in their mill and this decision has paid dividends.

“This is one of the most significant mill regeneration projects in Yorkshire. Steeped in history and with massive potential, Sunny Bank Mills is now one of the prime business locations in the West Leeds area.”

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