A £1 million project to restore Howsham Mill back to its former glory continues to make good progress.
Howsham Mill is a Grade II Listed building situated on a small island in the River Derwent, and is located approximately five miles outside of Malton, North Yorkshire. Work began on the site in 2004 with the restoration divided into two phases.
Phase One of the project – the restoration of the Granary – was completed in 2007. Meanwhile work is currently taking place on the second phase of the project, which comprises the construction of a new oak first floor level, the restoration of the original pyramid shaped roof, replacement of missing and damaged stonework and the installation of electrical services.
Once work is finished on the site, Howsham Mill will be transformed into an environmental education centre, complete with a part time education officer.
The Renewable Heritage Trust, which owns the island and mill, is implementing the restoration work, in consultation with the Environment Agency, Natural England and Ryedale District Council.
Stephen Pickering Traditional Building Services Ltd is the main contractor on the Howsham Mill project, whilst Ecoarc is the design architect and Gez Pegram is the structural engineer and project manager.
Funding for the restoration of Howsham Mill is being provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Country Houses Foundation and the Renewable Heritage Trust.
Secretary of Renewable Heritage Trust, Martin Phillips, said:
“The purpose of the Renewable Heritage Trust is to restore buildings of architectural interest that have the potential for renewable energy generation. We work on one project at a time and with Howsham Mill our aim is to give the building a new purpose by generating hydro electricity from an Archimedes screw turbine and the restored waterwheel.”
“The Mill is really two buildings. One part is a very ornate mock gothic style structure –measuring approximately 8 m² – and contains the stones and gear work. The second part – the Granary – is situated towards the rear of the site and is a single storey building which originally stored grain.
“Over the last 60 years Howsham Mill has suffered a considerable amount of deterioration – including a fire and partial roof collapse during the 1960s – however the main structure of the building has remained fairly intact. Therefore a key objective of the project is to retain the existing architectural features where possible so that externally, Howsham Mill will look very much like it did when it was abandoned in the 1950s.
“Our aim for this site is to do very little when it comes to changing the original style and ornate appearance of the Mill.”
A significant milestone for the Howsham Mill project came in 2006 when the mill featured on the BBC’s Restoration TV programme. Although the project didn’t win the grand prize it did benefit from being a part of the show, as Martin explained:
“We got to the series final and although we were not successful on winning, we did receive some funding that remained after the winning project had used all the funding it needed. Being involved with the Restoration process was certainly well worth it for helping us achieve our goal.”
Whilst the restoration work is taking place at Howsham Mill all efforts are being made to ensure that the project is delivered sensitively. To further facilitate the work, a heavy horse has been employed to transport equipment to the site. The horse’s involvement on the project has been vital for transporting scaffolding to the site where there is no access road.
“The restoration of Howsham Mill has become a very important part of my life. I live in a nearby village and have always known the mill as a derelict ruin.
“My role is to encourage everyone involved in the restoration to do as good a job as they can, so that future generations will know the mill as a more productive site. We are putting in a lot of effort to ensure that the work is to the best possible standard.
“Once the project is complete the Renewable Heritage Trust will be offering visits for school students – beginning in Easter 2013 – so that we can teach them all about the benefits of hydroelectricity. I’m interested in the environmental importance of the river, the need to expand renewable electricity and the agricultural heritage of the locality so I’m pleased that we will be able to showcase this to groups. We will be able to cover the heritage of the area in the broadest sense.”
Phase Two of Howsham Mill is scheduled for completion in February 2013.