Appeal to bring mill back to use

By Richard SmithAN appeal for help from the public has been launched by volunteers aiming to raise up to £400,000 to bring a historic mill back into use.

By Richard Smith

AN appeal for help from the public has been launched by volunteers aiming to raise up to £400,000 to bring a historic mill back into use.

The money is needed for refurbishment work at the Tide Mill in Woodbridge, which has been a part of the town's heritage for centuries and features in many postcards and paintings.

Built in 1170, the Tide Mill worked by water power until 1957 when the main wheel shaft broke and then it fell into disrepair before an appeal was made more than 30 years ago to repair the building.

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Now a list of improvements has been drawn up including machinery repairs, renovation of the building, recommissioning of unused equipment, heating and lighting improvements, safer stairs and walkways and the dredging of the adjacent pond to provide enough water to power the grinding of corn.

The aim is to grind corn occasionally and sell the flour in the town, while also encouraging more tourists to visit both the Tide Mill and the quay.

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About 12,000 people annually come to the idyllic location overlooking the River Deben and that could double when the Tide Mill has been improved.

Mike Weaver, chairman of the Tide Mill trustees, said: “It is a very special Woodbridge day. We, at the Tide Mill, have been delighted to have played such a central role in the restoration of the quay.

“The trouble is now that the quay looks so smart that the inside of the mill seems rather drab and lifeless. The displays are very amateurish - I can say that because I did them.

“So we are now looking to raising funds ourselves to refurbish the interior and really complete the job. We are really proud of our mill, which is the symbol of Woodbridge.”

An application for funding will be made to the Heritage Lottery Fund, which provided £83,000 of the £100,000 spent on improvements that saved the quay from dereliction

The work included repairing the quay wall and replacing it with timber cladding, removing mud from the river, installing benches and an interpretation board, and putting up bollards for moorings by small boats.

Stan Hewitt, a Tide Mill trustee, said: “It has been a four-year programme to conserve and enhance the approach to the Tide Mill.

“We have greatly improved the public access to the quay, both through the mooring facilities and the opportunity to enjoy the wonderful views of the River Deben. We hope to encourage more and more people to visit the Tide Mill.”

A parade of Suffolk Punch heavy horses and wagons was led from the Tide Mill on a tour of the town yesterday as the improvements that had saved the quay from dereliction were officially opened.

There was also an exhibition organised by Woodbridge Museum about local skills and a slide show of old photographs.

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