In a major boost for the heritage of the area, the partnership of New Forest District Council and Totton and Eling Town Council, has received a grant of £1.3m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The grant will develop the ‘Eling Experience’, a tourist attraction which includes the historic Grade II* listed Tide Mill; Heritage Centre and the open spaces encompassing Goatee Beach and Bartley Water.
Eighteen months of development with the assistance of experienced consultants has strengthened the partnerships’ aim to provide a scheme of benefit to the community. The project will include: essential conservation and restoration work to the mill; extension and development of the Heritage Centre, creating a new Learning Centre and Café; improvements to the surrounding open spaces allowing ‘access for all’ to these important natural heritage areas. There will be an exciting programme of activities; exhibitions and events for young and old alike. This will include the involvement of volunteers, including training for volunteer millers. For the first time full school groups will be able to access all there is on offer. The redeveloped Learning Centre and the Café will provide exciting and flexible spaces for the local community; schools and visitors alike.
Eling Tide Mill (c. 1785) is a rare example of a working mill still producing flour using only tidal power. The location between the industry of Southampton Water and the rural New Forest has played an important role in the rise and fall of the mill. As a working Museum producing freshly milled flour from locally grown wheat, the HLF funding will preserve this historical asset whilst providing an interesting visitor attraction.
Councillors Di Brooks of New Forest District Council and Mel Molyneux of Totton and Eling Town Council agree that this is welcome recognition for Eling. “This project means a lot to the area. Local people have told us how important the mill is and this will be a fantastic opportunity for people of all ages to celebrate this unique place, learn more about it and have fun at the same time”.
“This is a genuine partnership between the two authorities, and with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund we have secured this wonderful place for the future. We’re delighted to have received this grant and recognition for the work we are doing.”
Stuart McLeod, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South East, said: “This project will transform the Eling Experience for visitors to this historic 18th-century mill. The new learning centre and variety of community and volunteering opportunities will provide a great chance for people to find out more about and enjoy the heritage of their local area and the important role the mill played in local community life.”