6th January 2020
The wheels have started turning again on a 500-year-old corn mill in west Cumbria after a £1 million revamp.
Eskdale Mill in Boot is the Lake District’s last operating water-powered mill with some parts of it dating back to the Tudor period.
The Grade-II listed building was bought by the Eskdale Mill and Heritage Trust charity in 2006 from Cumbria County Council. The Trust has been working for over five years to develop the restoration project and raised more than £1 million.
The capital work was completed in summer 2019. Since the mill re-opened, volunteers have been an essential part of its daily operation as a heritage visitor facility and £5,000 from The Dulverton Trust Fund contributed towards their training. This included sorting, cataloguing and conserving artefacts for the exhibition; researching local history to inform the interpretation and welcoming and guiding visitors to the refurbished mill.
More than 40 volunteers have gained new skills and have enjoyed playing a part in the unique restoration project. They have been part of a team playing a vital role in preparing the mill and artefacts for re-opening and will continue to contribute to the visitor experience of the mill. Volunteers have also been involved in a range of improvements to the grounds of the mill under the Miller’s Garden project.
Fundraiser, Shirley Muir, said: “The group has evolved into an established and reliable band of volunteers, which is essential to the successful operation of the mill. The Mill Manager has held one-to-one meetings with volunteers and reports that they each feel valued, part of the team and an integral part of running Eskdale Mill.
The Mill is going from strength to strength and is supporting people to access heritage and is improving the skills of local people. Positive feedback from visitors has been well received.
Eskdale is a small, remote community that relies on tourism to support local businesses. The Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway terminates at Dalegarth Station, a 5 minute walk from the village of Boot. The attraction of the mill means that more people are encouraged to visit the area.
For anyone interested in getting involved in the project there are a range of volunteering opportunities available from visitor experience to mechanical to nature and gardening: https://www.eskdalemill.co.uk/volunteering/