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Trust launches appeal to save historic mill

Posted: 6th April 2017

The National Trust’s Winchester City Mill has launched a new programme of events to support its urgent fundraising appeal.

The Mill, which stands in the heart of Winchester, is thought to be the oldest working watermill in the country. During the heavy floods of 2014 it suffered huge damage, and later inspections revealed serious structural problems, including severe deterioration of its ancient beams and joists.

The National Trust has already spent £25,000 on emergency propping to make the Mill safe for the time being. But, an additional £125,000 needs to be raised this year, so that essential repairs can be carried out, or the Mill’s immediate future as a visitor attraction and working corn mill could be in jeopardy.

Manager Ric Weeks explains: “This tiny piece of our industrial heritage dates back over 1,000 years and is a hugely important and much-loved part of Winchester’s historic landscape. Aside from our daily visitors – we welcome over 40,000 people a year – we also receive many school visits. The kids love all the hands-on activities where they learn how to make their own flour, and how to bake. We’re also seeing more and more otter activity on our webcams, so we’ve become a bit of a wildlife haven.”

If the funds are raised, the Mill hopes that its basement space can be used as a rental, community or commercial area for the property.

To help raise funds in 2017, the Mill is hosting a programme of events and special moments. Highlights include a bathtub duck race along part of the famous river Test in Winchester (26th August). Visitors can choose their racing ducks from May half-term onwards, by selecting their favourite from the Mill’s ‘pond’. On 17th and 18th June, a unique Millathon will take place, where the Mill’s fabulous volunteer millers will be making flour all day and all night – for 30 hours. The public are invited to drop in to support them; early bird visitors between 6am and 10am on Sunday 18th June will receive coffee and biscuits in return for their support.

Throughout the year, the millers continue milling fresh stoneground flour every week for visitors and local retailers to buy, alongside the Mill’s monthly seasonal baking demonstrations.

The Mill was painted by JMW Turner in 1795 when the artist was a student at the Royal Academy. The artwork belongs to Tate Britain and a copy of the pen and ink work can be found inside the Mill.

More information about the Mill’s fundraising appeal, how to donate, and its events programme can be found at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/winchestercitymill, or by calling 01962 870057.