The two main mill blocks (now known as Conway Mill) were leased to a group of community activists for the purpose of stimulating, promoting and supporting community economic development. The founder members of Conway Mill Committee included: Frank Cahill, Fr. Des Wilson, Liam Burke, Alfie Hannaway, Jimmy Drumm, Jean McStravick, Sean O’ Neill, Tom Cahill & Colm Bradley.
Their main objectives were the promotion, support and facilitation of small indigenous economic enterprises, and the development of adult education facilities.
Having lain derelict for almost a decade the buildings had been badly vandalised, lead stripped from the roofs allowed dilapidation of the upper floors and windows throughout the complex were broken, rotten or completely missing. The process of clearing the buildings ready for use was slow and arduous.
One floor was given over for the provision of adult education under the auspices of Springhill Community House. Volunteers emptied, cleaned and built the classrooms, theatre and crèche. The crèche was staffed under the Action for Community Employment (A.C.E.). Voluntary organisations such as the Workers Educational Association (W.E.A.) and the Ulster Peoples College provided tutors for a wide range of courses.
Halla na Saoirse (Freedom Hall) was used for debates, discussions, conferences, community theatre, concerts and many other community activities.
Other floors were prepared for use by local businesses. The facilities were poor, but even in its dilapidated state it provided a much needed resource for people who wished to set up new businesses in an area where space was scarce. The mill became an ‘incubator’ for a whole range of new and innovative enterprises and projects. It provided the space, time and support for economic, cultural and community initiatives to be thought through and established.