For once though it is not financial cut backs that are putting our heritage at risk, it is our British weather. And in particular the rain. It has been a lovely April so far and the winter wasn’t too bad either however the wet winters of 2013 and 2014 are still having an impact here in Winchester. You may recall parts of Winchester suffered significant flooding both years, particularly the properties on the banks of the River Itchen. Winchester City Mill suffered more than most, as you may have read a while ago in Michael Carr’s report.
Our city mill, whose origins are early Anglo Saxon, is rather special. Not only is it a rare surviving example of an urban corn mill but it is in full working order following a major restoration programme by the National Trust in 2004. In fact it is the oldest working mill in the country, and you can still purchase flour milled here. When I visited at the end of March it was all looking rather lovely surrounded by daffodils, and inside the mill looked just as wonderful.
However down below, out of sight from the public areas things are rather different. The mill almost washed away thanks to the amount of water that entered the building. This short video I took demonstrates the speed of the water after a reasonably dry winter, just imagine its strength when it is in full flood.
The river is no longer in flood however the damage from the high water remains. Temporary repair works were carried out at the time of the damage, but now permanent repairs need to be urgently made if the City Mill is to continue as a working mill open to the general public. The National Trust who owns the Mill have lots of fundraising activities planned to help fund the repairs, but are also looking to us all to help. You can do this in a variety of ways from buying flour from the mill to making a donation to the repair fund. For more information on how you can help keep the wheel turning at Winchester City Mill visit their website or even better the mill itself this Easter.