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Newsletter 127 Winter 2019    © Hampshire Mills Group


News from various societies



From their newsletters


Whitchurch Silk Mill

Whitchurch Silk Mill has been celebrated at this year’s SPACES (Society for Public Architecture, Construction, Engineering and Surveying) awards, following our nomination by Hampshire County Council who were the architects on the projects.

The Mill won the Heritage and Conservation award.  Renovations and improvements to visitor facilities at the site, the oldest working silk mill in the UK, will help to ensure it can be enjoyed for generations to come.  The conservation project at the Silk Mill has previously been recognised by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

The Mill has been included in the SPACES Yearbook, having been chosen from over 100 entries. This annual publication formally recognises excellence in design and construction and promotes the development of high-quality public buildings.  SPACES is a collaborative multi-disciplinary organisation for building professionals working in and for the public sector.

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Mills Archive Trust

The Rex Wailes Collection has been transferred to the Mills Archive.



Rex Wailes (1901-1986) was the pioneer of windmill repair.  An engineer by profession, his love of windmills began at an early age and led to a lifelong effort to record and preserve this dying form of technology, working closely with organisations like the SPAB and the Newcomen Society.  His wider interest in industrial history led to roles as consultant to the Industrial Monuments Survey, National Trust and Royal Commission on Historic Monuments.  You can find out more about him at:


The Mills Archive hopes to process the collection and make it available to the wider public, but to do this we need to raise about £25,000.  We will launch a public funding appeal next month and we are aiming for early 2021, 35 years after Rex’s death, to complete the work. 

Access to the collection is not yet possible while the archivist completes the initial processing (which will take some months).  However, for those with a specific interest or who have memories of Rex, we invite you to get in touch if you’d like a glimpse of the work that goes into caring for our collections and making them available.  You can reach archivist Nathanael Hodge directly by emailing archivist@millsarchive.org.

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Bradwell Community Hydro - from Park Life, the Peak District National Park Magazine

When Mike Joseph moved to Bradwell [Derbyshire] after working for many years in the USA, he noticed something missing at Christmas: festive lighting.  A mechanical engineer with a strong interest in IT, Mike had previously been involved in lighting up New York at Christmas and other high-profile illumination projects.  In 2017, he came up with the idea for a hydro-powered Christmas display at Town Bottom, his pictures of past displays in NYC firing the imagination of children at Bradwell Primary School.


“New York at Christmas always looks very striking,” explains Mike.  “It has a real wow factor and that got the children excited about powering our own tree lights – using Bradwell Brook, which runs through the village.” 

Joined by neighbours Richard Patton and Andy Nash, Mike’s community hydro project resulted in six trees being lit, powered by a hydro electric generator built mainly from spare parts.


Richard Patton, Mike Joseph, and Andy Nash    Photo: Tom Marshall


Mike says:  “We ran a series of classes at the school about energy sources, looking at renewables versus fossil fuels and the basics of electrical generation.  We talked about climate change and greenhouse gases, discussed lighting types and LEDs, used magnets and wires to make electricity and looked at different designs for a water wheel.  The kids also had a competition for a lighting design for the trees.  Posters were made for the Grand Ignition – and most of the village was there when the lights were turned on.”  The project cost £1600, with funding from the Peak District National Park Authority, Derbyshire County Council, and Derbyshire Dales District Council, plus support from local volunteer group, the Bradda Dads.

Last year, two trees were lit with more light and colour, thanks to upgraded equipment and funding from Breedon Cement.  The benefits, however, run deeper than merely producing festive lights, says Mike.  “By taking the children through the processes of making electricity, we’ve demystified a significant area of the larger world, opening a lot of doors for curious young minds.  It’s a great way to give them a whole new way of looking at the problems that are facing us all right now.”

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Eskdale Mill, Lake District   from Museums + Heritage Advisor website

The newly renovated Eskdale Mill [at Boot], the last working water-powered corn mill in the Lake District National Park UNESCO World Heritage Site, has re-opened to the public ahead of schedule [in July 2019].

Restoration of the Grade 2 listed building was made possible through a £1 million restoration project, largely financed by National Lottery funding.

Through the project, both the mill’s traditional waterwheels were restored to full working order and a new hydroelectricity generation plant was installed.  The latter was designed to work alongside Eskdale Mill’s waterwheels in powering the Mill Cottage and generating income by supplying electricity to the national grid through the Feed-in Tariff scheme.

Following the renovation, the newly-installed exhibition charts the mill’s history and explores the milling processes through interactive displays, artefacts throughout the building, and an interactive tour.




from Eskdalemill.co.uk

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