The corn mill at Warwick Bridge has been restored to working order!
To celebrate, there will be an open afternoon on Sunday December 15th, with bakes, mulled wine & clog dancing (see the attached flier).
There will also be an opportunity to investigate their offer of shares in this community project – more information here.
These photographs of Warwick Bridge Corn Mill and the beautifully refurbished mill stones are by Graham Brooks of Warwick Bridge Corn Mill Ltd who has also provided the following account of this project’s progress.
THE STORY OF SAVING WARWICK BRIDGE CORN MILL.
Warwick Bridge has had a corn mill, the manorial mill for the manor of Great Corby, from at least the 12th century. The manor during the medieval period was split into two parts and the mill became a double mill with a section for each part of the manor. This continued until the manor was reunited under the Howards in the 17th Century.
The building we see today dates from the 19th century with the main mill building dating from 1803 and the other parts have been added during the century along with changes to the machinery. The Howards sold the mill in 1882 and it then passed through a number of private owners until the last miller closed the door on a working mill in 1989. The mill was sold with the surrounding land to a developer in 1990 and houses were built on the neighbouring land. But plans for the mill never came to fruition and the mill slowly deteriorated. English Heritage placed the mill on the Heritage at risk register in 2000. The roof on the main mill building was replaced but that was the only remedial work done. In 2015 Cultura Trust (previously known as North of England Civic Trust) managed to buy the mill with grants from English Heritage, Heritage Lottery fund and other sources.
Cultura Trust has over seen the renovation of the structure of the mill and the historic equipment that remained in the mill for the last three years. The mill now has three sets of working mill stones (the two other pairs of stones were for processing oats and are to worn to be used). It is all powered by at 15ft wide 10ft diameter waterwheel driven through the original cast iron and wooden gearing.
Unfortunately the access to the mill site is very limited with no parking for visitors and so to open it as a visitor attraction is not feasible. But the machinery is sufficient to produce a commercial amount of stone ground flour and the ole cart shed has been converted into a room suitable for a bakery. Cultura Trust organised a meeting in April 2019 to explain to the local population how they had restored the mill and their plans for the future of the mill. The mill was to produce flour on a commercial basis and part of this was to be sold locally and nationally the other part was to be used by the bakery to make a range of products. The bakery was also to run courses in bakery to supplement the income. Their vision was to return the mill to the community (Cultura Trust would retain ownership of the mill) and make it the centre of the community. This was to be achieved by setting up a community Benefit Society (CBS).
To achieve this, a second meeting was organised and from this seven local people and a member of Cultura came together to form a steering group to set up the CBS under guidance provide by Dave Hollings who works for CMS and Julian Ross chairman of the Old Crown Inn at Hesket New Market, the first community owned pub in the country. They were both funded by the Bright Ideas Fund and the Community Share Booster Fund.
The Community Benefit Society was registered as the Warwick Bridge Corn Mill Ltd and with development of a business plan the Society was launched to the community as a share offer to raise capital to finish fitting out both the mill and the bakery to make it a commercial enterprise.
The restoration of the mill has returned a derelict building to a useful existence and removed an eyesore from the village. It will provide opportunities for employment in the local community for millers and bakers, locals will have the opportunity to be involved in the mill as volunteers in a number of roles, and with organised tours this will bring more people to the village supporting local businesses.