The Broads National Park contains the greatest concentration of standing drainage mills in Europe, 13 scheduled monuments, 25 heritage conservation areas and over 250 listed buildings. The mills of the marshes are a precious and finite cultural resource. In the Halvergate marshes conservation area, the mill structures demonstrate the evolution of drainage mill technology. The highly engineered flood-banks, dyke networks, mill and pump structures create a true cultural landscape charting centuries of human effort to use this area for industry, agriculture and more recently nature conservation and tourism.
Although previous initiatives have partially halted the decline and restored some mill structures, the underlying problem is one of redundancy, leading to poor maintenance and neglect. A lack of traditional building craft and mill-wrighting skills will lead to a tipping point for these iconic heritage structures within the next decade.
This project aims to halt the decline in traditional skills. In next 4 years, we will:
- Train 400 students in heritage skills across the disciplines of carpentry, joinery, brick work, painting and decorating
- Train 15 tutors in heritage construction skills
- Embed heritage skills training in local college training programmes
- Restore 12 iconic Broads drainage mills and pump houses.
Through our methodology – embedding heritage skills training into colleges and getting these students out on real work sites carrying out heritage restoration under supervision and tutelage – we are helping to create young professional crafts people; who are capable of being productive and able members of restoration businesses once they finish college.