Kersey: Fundraising push for heritage mill
A historic water mill could be turning again by the end of the year if a fundraising push is successful.
Businessman Stephen de Lara-Bell and his wife Alison bought the dilapidated Grade II*-listed Kersey Mill and its outbuildings last year after the company that ran a wedding venue at the site went into liquidation owing more than £600,000.
The couple has pledged to refurbish the original water and engine-driven stone mill - which sits on the banks of the River Brett near Hadleigh - to its former glory, and open it up to the community as an educational facility.
This weekend, they held a family fun day with vintage vehicles, donkey rides, sideshows and attractions to help boost the restoration fund.
They have also come up with a sponsorship programme to pay for the refurbishment of the mill’s pit wheel, which will be the first step towards getting the mill working again.
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Mrs de Lara-Bell said: “We are hoping that we can re-cog the pit wheel with new teeth, which is a specialist job, alongside rebuilding the sluice gate and repairing the water wheel.
“We are inviting individuals or businesses to sponsor a pit wheel tooth for £50. Each tooth will be numbered and we will eventually erect a plaque next to it with the corresponding sponsors’ names.”
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The pit wheel teeth are made from kiln dried oak, and a carpenter has already volunteered to fit the teeth into the wheel free of charge. Mr de Lara-Bell added: “The money raised will pay for the new oak needed for the sluice gates and the water wheel itself. Our aim is to have the wheel turning by water power by the end of the year. The next stage will be the millstone restoration.”
The couple are working closely with Suffolk Mills Group and are in consultation with English Heritage and Natural England. They are also keen to involve the local community in every stage of the restoration.
Anyone who would like to have an input, or would be interested in sponsoring a pit wheel tooth can call 01449 741327.