Trust looks to the future of one of the area’s oldest historic buildings

Alan Cleaver talks to Boot Mill chair of trustees. Paul Pharaoh, about plans for this ancient mill

Boot mill: Money is being raised for a restoration programme

Boot mill: Money is being raised for a restoration programme

THE times are a-changing at Boot mill in Eskdale. Following the retirement of Dave King, the Eskdale Mill & Heritage Trust are putting together some exciting plans for this ancient mill.

They have been awarded funding by the Heritage Lottery Fund, to work up a detailed application for a major conservation programme, including the restoration of the lower wheel at the mill. This wheel has not turned for many years, although the other one has been kept going, to demonstrate how one of the oldest corn mills in the country worked.

urning: Now it’s hoped to get the lower wheel going too

Turning: Now it’s hoped to get the lower wheel going too

Chairman of the trust is Paul Pharaoh, who has good reason to be involved with the mill – his great (times four!) grandfather, Crispin Pharaoh, lived at the miller’s cottage in the 1770’s, although he was a stone-waller rather than a miller. The cottage beside the mill has not always been the home of the miller and its restoration forms part of the plans going on at the moment.

Paul explained that the Funding bid is more about people than the building, with plans for an activities programme at the mill.

He told Egremont2Day: “If all goes to plan, we expect to employ a new resident miller when the works are complete at the end of next year. We are trying to strike the right balance between preserving what makes the mill so special and creating a sustainable visitor attraction once public subsidy ends.”

While they hope to employ a miller for the future, it is volunteers who are key to the plans for the site.

He said: “We need volunteers to welcome visitors, carry out guided tours, take money and so forth.

“But we will also need people to help with the maintenance of the building.”

Power

Paul is no engineer himself but is aware of the appeal to engineering enthusiasts of a building and machinery of this type.

Would-be volunteers can call at the mill when it is open Wednesdays to Saturdays or email them on themillatboot@gmail.com.

Meanwhile, another project is already up and running. This is a new free-standing wheel beside the mill, which will generate power for the mill and cottage but also raise money by selling surplus energy to the grid.

Paul added: “Schools will be an important part of our activities programme; we chose a wheel rather than a turbine partly because of its educational value.”

While there’s plenty planned for the future, the mill is open Wednesdays to Saturdays at the moment and is always worth a visit.

It’s best to catch the Ratty from Ravenglass to Dalegarth and then walk along to the mill.

You can also enjoy some beautiful walks in Eskdale while you are there. Food and drink are available from a number of pubs in the area or from the Dalegarth station.

See also the mill’s website for more information about how to get involved: www.eskdalemill.co.uk