AN HISTORIC Farnworth mill is going up for auction with a multi-million pound price tag.

Century Mill, in George Street, Farnworth will go under the hammer at the Platinum Suite at the Macron Stadium on Tuesday next week, March 20.

Situated on a four acre site and currently producing £172,014.88 per annum, the "substantial" lot has been listed at a guide price of £1.5 to £2 million plus fees.

The mill, which is not listed, has been sub-divided in to 46 lettable units and the first and second floors are currently vacant.

Several business currently operate from the site, including Astra Windows,

Link Design fitted kitchen and bedroom suppliers, a skip hire firm and a scrap yard, as well as several small companies operating from the basement.

The mill's tower is also rented out to telecommunications companies to house masts.

Built in the early 20th century, when Bolton was at the heart of the booming international cotton trade, the former cotton mill was originally used for spinning general-purpose cotton.

As the industry slowed down after the First World War, when the supply of cotton shrank and the Government encouraged British colonies to build their own mills to spin and weave cotton, domestic independent mills such as Century began to struggle.

The mill was one of 104 taken over by the Lancashire Cotton Corporation, established by the Bank of England, in 1929, and was one of only 53 that survived until the 1950s.

Century then passed to the Essex-founded fabric manufacturer Courtaulds in 1964, before the company was broken up in the 1990s and the mill was again resold.

Its current owners, London-based Plan Ahead Limited, have now decided to sell the mill due to the business owner Chandrakant Khajuria's age.

Bernard Perrin, aged 87, who manages the mill for Plan Ahead, said: "Mr Khajuria wants to sell the mill because he's getting on a bit now and he's in to his 80s. He doesn't want it to be left on his hands.

"I have been looking after it since the day he took it over, and he realises that we could both go together and there would be no one to run the place properly.

"The mill is a big responsibility because there are always problems with mills.

"But there has been quite a lot of interest and I'm showing people around this week.

"I have no idea what will happen now because auctions are funny things. Sometimes lots sell and sometimes they don't."

However the auction has left some tenants fearing for their business' future.

Andrew Massey, owner of Just Nissan, a scrap car dealership in the yard alongside the mill, said he was only told about the auction on February 18 and was not given a final date.

Just Nissan has been on the site for 22 years and has grown from just one unit when it first opened, to now operating in five at the mill.

But now Mr Massey, who lives in Darcy Lever, is worried that the sale could mean he has to move or close down his business.

He said: "There's not a lot I can do about it. I don't know what's going to happen.

"We will just have to wait until the March 20 now and even then we won't find out what will happen.

"I can't stay here if it's sold because they're possibly going to build houses.

"It could put me out of business, and it will put me out of business if it's sold for development.

"But what can you do? I can't buy it. We would have to find another yard and get licences, which are too much and I'm not in a position to be able to pay for moving.

"If the business shuts I will be able to find work somewhere else but it's not that easy. They don't grant licences for scrap yards that easy any more.

"I am concerned about the future of my business.

"Everything is just up in the air and hanging in the balance. No one knows what's going on.

"The sale of the mill is a loss because this company will go."

Michael Wilson, aged 62, who owns Link Design which has been operating at Century Mill since 1995, said he was relaxed about the auction as the firm has legal right and a lease on the site.

However he said he is concerned about potential future rises in rent rates if new owner decided to develop the property, adding that the mill is in "a very poor state of repair".

He said: "I think initially it will be sold on and then we will carry on paying the rent. But the fear is the new owners could put up the rent.

"And we would probably struggle to find similar accommodation for the size of the place."

Mr Perrin said: "The businesses in the mill's future depends on who buys it. They may decide to carry on with it how it is.

"The businesses won't necessarily have to leave. Some of them have got long leases, and it depends on what the site is bought for.

"We can't empty the place overnight, and we have to give them good compensation if we want them to go early.

"No one can say anything until it is sold, and if it doesn't sell we will just carry on as before."

Century Mill made headlines last year when 43-year-old Ian Bendall died following a "deliberate and brutal attack" behind the site.

Alex Smith, aged 28, also known as Colgan, was found guilty of Mr Bendall's murder and William Coughlan aged 25 and Ellis Hampson aged 19 were both found guilty of manslaughter in January.

In 2016 the mill's roof was also damaged when a fire, started by a wood burner in one of the warehouses, tore through the building.