Secured future for Combe Mill

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Secured future for Combe Mill

An ancient steam and water mill, is to receive grant funding from West Oxfordshire District Council towards a major refurbishment project to secure the building’s future and provide an improved leisure and learning destination for visitors.

Combe Mill, a Grade 2* listed building, which is part of the Blenheim Estate, has operated for centuries as a working watermill until the 1950s and a saw mill until 2000.

Since the late 1960s it has been looked after by the Combe Mill Society, a charity run wholly by volunteers. Through fundraising they have restored a rare beam engine, line shafting and brought a waterwheel back into working condition.

However, over the years the historic fabric of the mill building has deteriorated to such an extent that the safety of the building and its visitors is now at risk. Urgent work is needed.

Tony Simmons, Chair of the Combe Mill Society explains that the refurbishment project will include waterproofing the mill by refurbishing the windows, repairing and weatherproofing the roof and re-pointing settlement cracks. It will modernise the electrical system so it is compliant and structurally reinforce the education room.

It will also improve access for all visitors especially those with mobility problems by putting in a lift and suitable toilets.

Commenting on the Combe Mill Society’s successful grant application, Tony Simmons said, “We are delighted to have West Oxfordshire District Council’s support as it is vital for the project to go ahead. Conservation and improved access will help to attract tourists and visitors. It is a place where all ages can experience and learn about Victorian engineering and social history.”

Cllr Richard Langridge, Cabinet Member for Local Economy and Communities said, “Combe Mill is an important heritage site which will attract even more tourists and visitors once it is fully restored. It’s a site our district is very proud of, so I am very pleased the Council is contributing towards its restoration. Well done to the Combe Mill Society volunteers who have worked tirelessly on this project for many years.”

The £30,000 funding provided by the district council goes towards the total project cost of £824,000. The largest contribution is £768,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Support is also being given by the Blenheim Estate (£22,657), volunteer effort (£31,550) and the Combe Mill Society (£2,000).

English Heritage has been fully involved with the Combe Mill restoration project and supports the plans.

Combe Mill Society also maintains the Mill’s riverside setting, keeping it in good order and safely managed for the benefit of the community and the environment. Anyone interested in finding out more, or joining the society to help maintain the mill or fund raise, can download a membership form on www.combemill.org

The grant decision was made by the Council’s Cabinet on Wednesday 24 August and is subject to the usual call in period.

Posted : 26/08/2011 11:50:11

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