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Grant for restoration and new visitor centre at world’s oldest tidal mill

PUBLISHED: 15:12 22 November 2010

Mill House

Mill House

Archant

The largest remaining tidal mill in the world which was once under threat of being knocked down to make way for a car park has been given funding for restoration and to develop a visitor centre.

House Mill at Bromley by Bow is a Grade I-listed flour mill of international importance on the edge of the Olympic Park and The River Lea Tidal Mill Trust just won a £248,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop plans for the building.

It dates back to 1776 and is the largest remaining tidal mill in the world and is one of the most historic buildings in East London and features on English Heritage’s At Risk register.

The Trust’s plans include restoring the mill, the neighbouring Miller’s House, and creating a self-sustaining and vibrant visitor centre around the history of this industrial gem in the heart of the Thames Gateway.

Once it has developed its plans the trust should be awarded a total grant of £2.65 million to complete the work.

The Trust aims to harness hydro-electric energy from the restored waterwheels and additional turbines to boost income at the site and teach people about the milling process for visitors of all ages.

The historic building was last used as a working watermill in 1941. It is the oldest mill on Three Mills Island. In medieval times the island was known as ‘Three Mills’ and provided flour to the local bakers of Stratford-atte-Bow who supplied bread to the City of London.

John Haggerty, who is the Chairman of the River Lea Tidal Mill Trust said the campaign to protect the mill has taken 35 years and volunteers had to fight to stop it being flattened to make way for a car park.

He said: “It has taken a long time to get here, we have had many disappointments over the years but now, thanks to HLF, we can progress this project with focused and positive energy to enable us to give the people of East London a heritage building they can be proud of, to give London another attraction and show the world its largest surviving tidal mill and demonstrate sustainability through hydro-power. It is a unique project in a unique building and we are very proud of it.”

Once the work is completed the mill will host workshops teaching traditional skills such as metal work, carpentry and hand milling.

Children will have the chance to get involved in on-site drama and adults will be offered training from one-day courses through to placements through a partnership with The Building Crafts College.

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