Time is running out to save tide mill

TIME is running out to save a Suffolk tide mill after a bid for a £1million grant was rejected.

Richard Smith

TIME is running out to save a Suffolk tide mill after a bid for a £1million grant was rejected.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has refused to give the grant to the Woodbridge Tide Mill and now the mill's trustees have urged the public to rally round and support a fundraising campaign.

The trustees wanted the money to carry out essential repairs to stop the mill falling into the River Deben and they aimed to increase its appeal to visitors by adding new attractions.

They included grinding corn to make wholemeal flour and a 42-inch video display on an interior wall to allow visitors to watch the grinding process.

The trustees hoped that the number of visitors could rise significantly, leading to an economic spin-off for the town.

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But the fund was concerned about the cost of the project, estimated at £1.36m, and Robyn Llewellyn, the fund's east of England regional manager, said: “The committee had to make some tough decisions; they had more than twice as much in grant request than they had funds available on the day.

“The committee understand that Woodbridge Tide Mill is an iconic building, much-loved by local people. However, the committee felt that the project's learning proposals need to be stronger for an application of this size.

“Whilst the committee agreed that reinstatement of corn grinding may be a welcome attraction to visitors, the cost for this new element was considerable and not directly related to the conservation need of the building.

“Overall, project costs were high compared to the planned visitor offer this scheme would provide.”

The Tide Mill Trust will reapply for a grant and the trustees said yesterday: “The request for almost £1m will be reconsidered but without sacrificing the planned essentials of the project like ensuring that the mill does not fall into the river.

“The Trust will be asking the present partnership funders to renew their conditional offers of support, totalling £142,000.”

They added: “Everyone is anxious to ensure the survival of this iconic Grade I Listed heritage building - like the 2000 people who visited the mill during the Maritime Woodbridge weekend - but much more financial support will be needed to support the new grant application to the HLF.”

Tony Hubbard, chairman of the trust, said: “It is a bit of a shock that we have been turned down. The mill is such an iconic building in Suffolk and that seems to have been a little bit ignored.

“It is a big worry that we will have to go out and ask people for money, it could not have come at a worse time with the credit crunch.”

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