Eskdale Mill Volunteer Open Day – A new chapter in the mills story opens.

We recently held the first informal volunteer get together and recruitment day at Dalegarth Station on the 16th January 2016.

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Paul Pharaoh the Chairman of the Mill Trust gave us an interesting introduction to the work of the Trust and its future directions. I then explained about about the immediate needs for 2016, and the crucial role that volunteers are going to play over the year.
Fundamentally the role of a front of house welcoming guide was identified as being our most pressing need and thankfully a few people expressed an interest in taking on that role.

What is the role of a front of house guide?

Front of House Volunteers are vital to the success of this transformation and our visitors’ experience of the Mill; they act as meeters and greeters, and represent the public face of the EMHT and can act as escorts for our visitors. We are looking for people to join our volunteer team, providing a friendly and helpful welcome to all the Mills visitors, taking the entrance fee, giving information,directions and answering queries about the Mill, milling, the valley exhibitions, displays,the collections and many other subjects.

Thankfully the weather abated for a short period – between storms Frank and Gertrude – and we even enjoyed some sunshine, as about 20 of us, some new and some familiar faces then walked up to the Mill where Dave King the outgoing custodian gave us perhaps his last tour of the Mill, though I’m hopeful that he will be able to come back as a volunteer to help train us in the operation of the mill before we open for the summer season.

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Dave’s tour was enjoyed by us all and inspired a lot of interest in the mill, milling, local history and getting involved in the the future.

Our ambition is that we will open through the Summer on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. So if you are also interested in helping with that or indeed any other roles at the mill, please do get in touch, you will be very welcome!

Thanks to everyone who came and I hope to meet you all again soon.

Our next meeting will be the big spring clean at the Mill on the 13th February 2016. Please join us between 10.30 and 2.30.

A packed lunch, gloves and clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty are recommended!

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Recruitment day 16th Jan

Come and Volunteer at Eskdale Mill!

Eskdale Mill at Boot is the last working watermill in the Lake District. This Grade II listed building, is set for significant development over the next few years – and we need you to be part of it.

Paul Pharaoh, the Trust’s Chairman says:

“Eskdale Mill is one of West Cumbria’s most interesting and unique tourist destinations. We welcome around 4,000 visitors a year and, with the retirement of the Miller are relying on volunteers to make each trip here a memorable one. Can you help?

From leading tours and bringing the Mill’s rich history to life, to explaining how the machinery works and even milling meal – our volunteers literally keep the wheels turning.”

Volunteers can become guides and eventually millers. Guides lead tours around the working mill, bringing its history to life and explaining how the machinery works. Millers, following six months’ training, will operate the mill to produce stone-ground oatmeal, keeping hundreds of years of tradition alive in the valley.

The recruitment day begins at Dalegarth station on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway on Saturday 16th January at 10:00am. Prospective volunteers will be given a short introduction to the trust and background to the Mill, We will then walk up to the Mill and be taken on a tour by the existing Miller.

This will give you the chance to meet existing volunteers and find out more about the roles available.

Volunteers are needed to cover Eskdale Mill’s opening times:

  • Easter to September – Friday, Saturdays, Sundays and Monday from 11.am until 4.30pm.

  • Bank Holidays and special events

  • Occasional other weekdays for special group tours, including schoolchildren.

For further information on the day or about getting involved please contact Karl Bartlett, the Volunteer Development Officer :- themillatboot@gmail.com

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Volunteers working on the Mills leat

Volunteer roles available

The miller helps operate the mill, harnessing the power of the Whillan Beck producing stone-ground oatmeal, keeping hundreds of years of tradition alive within the valley. Volunteers for this role should be reasonably fit as it involves some manual work, climbing steep ladder stairs and accessing the ‘lade’ at the rear of building.

The guide will lead tours around the working mill, bringing its history to life and explaining how the machinery works and selling snacks and souvenirs. Volunteers for this role should be reasonably fit as it involves frequent climbing of the steep ladder stairs. They’ll also need to be good at absorbing and retaining knowledge of the Mill’s history and machinery.

Other roles include, historian / researcher, practical grounds person /gardeners and eventually volunteer archaeologists of the site.

Eskdale Mill in art-1

This print, is based on an engraving of Eskdale Mill, Wilton Beck, Cumberland, by the artist Thomas Allom, engraved by A le Petit, 1833.

This beautiful evocative print derives from a 2 volume set written in 1832, amongst the earliest “tourism books”. Its capturing of the place, and its energy is still as relevant and interesting now as when it was published over 180 years ago.

Eskdale Mill Rose 1832 -35

Originally published in “Westmorland, Cumberland, Durham, and Northumberland”, Illustrated, by H Fisher, R Fisher and P Jackson, Newgate Street, London, 1832-35.

Interestingly Whillan Beck is written as Wilton Beck. A mistaken Cumbrian dialect?

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You can still get them!

The accompanying text expounded the delights of the location

“In Cumberland are two rivers of the name of Esk: one of which, after flowing through the beautiful valley of Eskdale, continues its course, till it at length falls into the sea at Ravenglass.

At the head of Eskdale, some remains of a Roman fortress are still visible. The scenery of the vale comprises some of the most picturesque objects in the lake district, including Birker Force and Stanley Gill. A few dispersed dwellings are scattered in the valley, surrounded by rocky knolls, beautifully enriched with trees, and bordered by uplands, on which large flocks of sheep graze in undisturbed quiet.

The ready and powerful aid constantly afforded by the mountain streams, has naturally led to the erection of many water-mills in this romantic district; one of these forms a prominent object in the present Illustration.

Amongst the choice morceaux provided in this seat of the picturesque for the gratification of the pictorial gourmand, few can be met with more suitable for artistic effect than Eskdale Mill. Free from all stiffness of outline and architectural precision, its rude appearance harmonizes well with the rich accompaniments that nature has cast around it. The wheel and stream, the rocky knolls and clustering foliage, and the glimpse obtained of the upland pasturages, combine together with amazing effect, and produce a picture richer in composition than any that might be wrought from the artist’s imagination.”

morceaux  – a short artistic composition.

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