Volunteer activities

Three volunteer projects are ongoing whilst the mill is closed for refurbishment. Volunteer training for when the mill reopens is being developed. Another continuing vital role for volunteers outside the scope of HLF is keeping the hydro-electric wheel turning. Mary Ann Lancaster, of Heritage Associates, and Jenny Truran, Lancashire County Museums Service Conservation Officer, assisted with the Trust’s artefact collection. The long task of cataloguing and labelling these was completed with heroic patience by volunteers Karen Mason and Iain McNichol. Most items were removed to commercial storage in Egremont. Some objects with signs of woodworm are to be treated by a specialist conservation team.

Volunteers working under Mary Ann’s guidance will next identify items with little or no relevance to the mill or Eskdale’s heritage. Recommending items for disposal according to best practice will help us plan displays using the fascinating objects in our collection.

A volunteers’ start-up meeting for the miller’s garden project identified things we need to do before re-opening in 2019. Until builders hand back the mill site, we will concentrate on the garden with professional assistance. A range of grounds work items were cut from the HLF project but some may be included in the miller’s garden project. Others will form a separate programme which needs additional funding, and assistance from volunteer teams working for our friends at the National Trust and National Park.

Dan Elsworth of Greenlane Archaeology is supporting a volunteers’ local history research project. This will inform our new exhibition, website and guidebook. Meetings have taken place at archive centres in Whitehaven, Carlisle and Barrow, and volunteers have been introduced to techniques for searching the collections.

Thirteen volunteers registered with the Trust in 2018, all veterans of previous seasons. We are hugely grateful to Len Watson and Rod Chilton for their invaluable work on the hydro scheme, and to Steve Hemm who has joined their team. Sadly Stuart Burgess, our volunteer co-ordinator, has stood down; thanks to Stuart for all his help. One result is that the same small dedicated group is involved in all three volunteer projects.

We do need to recruit additional volunteers. This is essential so that sufficient numbers of trained people are available when the mill is ready for visitors. Tackling this issue is being considered at present. If you know any likely candidates, please do ask them to get in touch via eskdalemillvolunteers@gmail.com.