Woodbridge tide mill 'could collapse'

AN HISTORIC tide mill in Suffolk is in danger of collapsing unless £1.2million worth of improvements are urgently carried out.

Richard Smith

AN HISTORIC tide mill in Suffolk is in danger of collapsing unless £1.2million worth of improvements are urgently carried out.

The Woodbridge Tide Mill could ''keel over'' and fall into the River Deben within the next 30 years if the building is not restored.

Its supporters have put together a rescue package which also includes enhancing the building as a tourist attraction - but now they need further support from the community.

A £1million funding bid has been lodged with the Heritage Lottery Fund, which will make a decision in September.

If successful, this would leave £200,000 to be raised, and already £40,000 has been pledged. This includes £25,000 from Woodbridge Community Council.

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Fred Reynolds, project administrator for the Tide Mill, said: ''I have had verbal offers taking the amount raised up to £100,000 and then this leaves us £100,000 to be raised.

''I am fairly confident we can make it but it will take a big effort.”

The number of visitors has fallen dramatically from 14,919 in 1993 to 6,919 in 2007 because, believes Mr Reynolds, there have been no new attractions at the mill to entice people to make a return visit.

He hopes that a restored mill can pull in 15,000 tourists in 2010 and that they will like the planned improvements which include grinding corn.

The mill, built in 1793, requires repairs and a fire safety programme.

Mr Reynolds said: ''Surveys by the structural engineer have shown that the foundations of the mill are already at risk and will be increasingly so due to the impact of higher and more aggressive tides.

''A protective concrete slab (apron) laid up to mud level on the south side of the mill is now breaking up and being under-scoured, exposing the mill to the risk of eventually falling into the river.

''The apron will accordingly be replaced and will itself be protected from erosion by sheet piling clad with timber to match the wall of Tide Mill Quay and capped to mud level.''

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