British Empire Medal awarded to volunteer of 30 years John Jasper in the Queens New Years Honours List

British Empire Medal awarded to volunteer of 30 years John Jasper in the Queens New Years Honours List

 

John Jasper has made a considerable contribution to Devon’s industrial heritage.  His knowledge, expertise and commitment has been invaluable to the development of Coldharbour Mill Working Wool Museum in Uffculme, Devon. His work as a volunteer since 1990 has left a remarkable legacy of heritage conservation and restoration for visitors to learn from and enjoy.

 

Historic England describe Coldharbour Mill as ‘one of the best-preserved textile mill complexes in the country.” The Mill was a commercial enterprise between 1797 and 1981. Upon closure, although the fabric and power machinery were in a poor state, a local independent trust was established to save the grade II* listed site and open it to visitors (Coldharbour Mill Trust Ltd – registered charity no:1123386).

 

In 1990 the whole steam complex including the 1888 and 1910 Lancashire boilers and the 1910 Pollitt and Wigzell engine were not working nor had they been for several years. John assessed their condition and set about gathering a team of volunteers to restore the boiler to get it back into commission.  Without him, it is doubtful that anyone would have had the knowledge or commitment to return the steam plant to operation. John’s substantive contribution has been as the driving force to return the Mill’s rare and original steam plant and associated engines to full working order, to lead a team of volunteers to operate the complex for the public at regular steaming events throughout the year; manage the labour-intensive annual insurance inspection process, continue the improvements to the museum by managing regular work days of volunteers and, continuing that commitment over a prolonged period of time as a volunteer.

 

Undoubtedly, his greatest achievement has been the rescue, installation and restoration of the 1867 Kittoe and Brotherhood Beam Engine in the Beam Engine House, (replacing the original beam engine that had sadly been scrapped in an earlier era). Having discovered the abandoned and unwanted beam engine in Wiltshire where it had lain in a transport yard with a ripped tarpaulin over it, neglected for many years. John realised its potential significance to the steam collection of the Museum. John gave his time to draw the plans for the foundations, working out how it would fit and then overseeing the haulage and delivery. John built the form and reinforcements for the substantial concrete slab and led the volunteers in installing the heavy parts such as the 8 ton cast iron base plate (which would be irreparable if it broke), safely lifting the rest of the massive parts into position. There was no manual, no ‘You-tube’ video, no jig-saw box picture to show how it would all fit together. To not only assemble it but then for it to successfully steam for the public to enjoy into the future and long after John is no longer with us is a terrific legacy and an amazing achievement.  John has recounted the full five-year story in ‘The Beam Engine Story’ published on the Mill website.

 

Not only has he overseen the return of immobile, rusty and static engines such as the stationary fire pump and Marshall engine to running order, and installed a boiler feed pump and re-seated the 1910 boiler for use, he has also created policies, procedures and operating documents, taking responsibility for Health and Safety. He has written the Statement of Significance for the Steam Collection at Coldharbour Mill, testament to his enormously valuable expertise and knowledge. His achievements are all the more remarkable given that most of this volunteer activity has happened while he was working a demanding full-time job as an engineer.

 

In addition, for 30 years John has contributed his remarkable talents to many other aspects of museum operations. He led a team to clear the waterways and rescue the pipes from the Gas Retort House from the millstreams. He provided technical information to the contractors who restored the Mill’s unique waterwheel. As volunteer Steam Curator, he has continued to train and lead volunteers in the ‘Steam Team’, who not only maintain and operate the restored steam engines, but also assist with the maintenance and display of the Mill’s collection of textile machines, both working and non-working exhibits. This exceptional collection includes a full set of Taylor Wordsworth combing machines – unique as they are apparently the last remaining examples in the country – which were restored  for display in the Mill’s Combing Shed as part of a Heritage Lottery funded project in 2015/16. John drafted the interpretation for visitors.

 

He has built up a reference library to assist with solving problems with the old machinery and has learned, and passed on, traditional skills such as being able to splice rope to keep the Rope Drives in operation.   He has given tours to the public and promoted Coldharbour Mill in broadcast documentaries and in print media.

 

Upon retirement, he took a course of independent study to increase his knowledge and keep abreast of modern museum practice, gaining a postgraduate qualification in Heritage Management from Birmingham University in 2013. In the last few years, he has served as interim Volunteer Coordinator, and also joined the Board of Trustees and stepped in as Acting Chairman in 2018.

 

 

Since retiring he has also given his time and skills to the Wellington Arts Association using his initiative, expertise and leadership qualities to solve existing problems.  He set about recruiting and leading a team to make improvements to the Art-Deco Wellesley cinema, a rare example of a 1930s single screen cinema that is virtually untouched, to improve back of house facilities for performers and to undertake structural alterations to allow for proper scenery changes.

 

His many admirable qualities include unflappability and complete dedication to the tasks he undertakes. All this is testimony to a most remarkably modest man who has continued to quietly donate his skills, energy and ingenuity in the service of heritage for a sustained period of 30 years.  As such, he is richly deserving of this national honour.


Coldharbour Mill launches Rural Skills Training Programme

Coldharbour Mill Launches Rural Skills Training Programme

Coldharbour Mill is delighted to announce that in January we will be launching a new skills training programme which will help candidates learn new rural work skills including estate, countryside and land management along with practical work-based skills which trainees will be able to take on into employment. They will also have the opportunity to learn wider heritage attraction skills.

The Programme will offer free training opportunities for unemployed or inactive people who are looking to learn new skill and improve their employability. The programme is fully funded by the European Social Fun (ESF) and the Education and Skills Funding Agency, who are working with Petroc in Devon and Somerset to deliver the funding.

The goal of the programme is to aid unemployed or inactive people to gain new skills and move into work, but trainees will also be helping Coldharbour Mill improve and manage our community space as part of our Project Splash! There will be two rounds of the programme, each running for 1-day a week for 3 months starting from January. There will also be opportunities to join Museum & Heritage Attraction training which will focus on administration, Marketing, Retail and Customer Service skills.

To find out more about the programme or to register interest go to: www.coldharbourmill.org.uk/skills-training-programme


New Trustee for Coldharbour Mill Trust

New Trustee for Coldharbour Mill Trust

Coldharbour Mill Trust are excited to announce the appointment of our newest Trustee Director, Elizabeth (Beth) Crockett. Beth has joined the charity at a pivotal time in Coldharbour Mill’s development and brings a new dynamic to the Board, along with a passion for the work of the charity.

Chair of Trustees, Jackie Dawkins commented that “Beth’s appointment was as a result of the Boards succession planning and widening access. Coldharbour Mill and the Board are learning to adapt to the challenging cultural landscape and Beth will come with new and exciting ideas which will help us secure this nationally significant site’s future.”

At 22, Beth is our youngest Trustee and is currently studying with the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage in Birmingham where her research focuses on the benefits that heritage can bring to communities.

Beth said “I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a volunteer and believe the estate is a vital asset for the local community’s history and a significant contributor to its wellbeing. I want to make a positive contribution as a young trustee, offering a different perspective going forward and believe my education and volunteering have given me the insight to do this, particularly around the engagement of young people within the sector and working with communities.

This appointment marks the next step in the Boards planned evolution, Beth joins two other recent appointees; Rachel Tyler, who is currently completing AHRC-funded doctoral research on the geography of London’s fashion Industry and Bryher Mason, recently appointed Vice Chair, who has 16 years of experience in collection management, curatorship and conservation management.

Having grown up in Wellington Beth is aware of the significance of the Fox Brothers’ Mills to the community’s social and economic history with many of her ancestors working at the mills. Chief Executive, Martin Halse said that “Beth’s appointment will be of real asset to the charities strategic future bringing current heritage thinking to the benefit of the organisation and its visitors.”

Coldharbour Mill Trust continues to seek new Trustee Directors, the Board is particularly interested in hearing from underrepresented groups across society to ensure the charity can continue to increase access and widen participation, many of our quarterly trustee meetings are held via Zoom allowing our trustees to join us from anywhere in the world.


Uffculme Bus Shelter Makeover

Uffculme Bus Shelter Makeover

Uffculme Green Team triumph with the approval of their plans to renovate the bus shelter in the heart of the village.

The bus shelter in Uffculme has been in a state of disrepair for a while, adorned with graffiti, it has been creating a bit of an eyesore in the village. The Uffculme Green Team, who have already created many worthwhile initiatives in the village in the hope to fight the Climate Crisis, have now succeeded in winning approval to renovate the Bus Shelter.

This project was approved by Uffculme Parish Council at their meeting on Thursday 1st October and they have agreed to support the project going forward.

Coldharbour Mill, a nationally significant Museum and Visitor Attraction in Uffculme will also be supporting the project. The renovated shelter will highlight both the History of the Mill in the village as well as their upcoming events and activities for visitors and the community.

The proposal put together some suggestions on how the bus shelter could look after the renovation as well as ways in which to make the structure vandal-proof. The Uffculme Green Team’s volunteers will commence work over the winter period and the renovated shelter should be ready for unveiling by spring next year.


Culture Recovery Fund Announcement

Culture Recovery Fund Announcement

Coldharbour Mill has received £230,169 from The Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage which is part of the £1.57 billion rescue package announced by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The aim of the fund is to safeguard cultural and heritage organisations across the UK from the economic impact of COVID-19 and the funding will help support the ongoing costs of maintaining Coldharbour Mills nationally significant heritage site.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown began Coldharbour Mill Trust has been working hard to keep up with maintenance of the heritage buildings, re-introduce its team of volunteers and start progressing projects put on hold by the pandemic. Although it has been raising funds through its emergency appeal, it has been in dire need of extra support to guarantee that the site is protected for future generations to enjoy.

Martin Halse, Chief Executive of Coldharbour Mill said: “Thanks to the Culture Recovery Fund we will be able to make the dramatic changes needed to re-open the estate, factory and museum next season as well as support the ongoing projects which are vital to the success of Coldharbour Mill going forward. The Board of Trustees and I are extremely grateful for this lifeline in a continually challenging situation and these funds will be pivotal in continuing to sustain Coldharbour Mill.”

Despite reducing costs where possible and utilising government schemes such as furlough, Coldharbour Mill were still facing a losses in visitor income for this season on top of the additional costs required to make the site Covid Compliant. This funding will allow Coldharbour Mill to continue to provide volunteering opportunities to over 100 volunteers as well as educational experiences for schools and visitors locally, nationally and internationally.


A Sad Goodbye

A Sad Goodbye

Today Coldharbour Mill says a sad goodbye to Susan Meads who passed away on 12th July 2020 at the age of 83.

Susan spent over 30 years involved with Coldharbour Mill playing an instrumental part of our Trustee Board from it’s inception. She played a vital role in the transition from a trust to  an incorporated body following the financial crisis of 2008/09 and then again in 2011 and she remained on the Board until 2016.

The Survival of the charity had been in no small part due to Susan’s wealth of experience, skillset and contacts.

Susan had an exceptional whit with a thirst for life which saw her fulfil a lifelong ambition of a World Cruise in her late 70s and she made sure to keep her fellow trustees updated with her escapades by email as she sailed the world.

We are very sad to hear of her passing and will look back with fondness at the care and support she gave to Coldharbour Mill.

 

Martin Halse – Chief Executive


Important Notice: Continued Closure

Important Notice: Continued Closure

In common with many other museums, visitor attractions and heritage sites the current Pandemic has had a huge impact on life at Coldharbour Mill with the enforced closure hitting just as we were preparing to re-open for our season back in March.

Now that government guidelines have been put in place to allow for the re-opening of organisations such as ours, we are starting the process of preparing for the return of our staff, volunteer teams and visitors. This process is challenging for smaller charities like ourselves and we will need to raise approximately £12,000 to become Covid-19 compliant for visitors. We are also starting to take our first tentative steps to re-engage our volunteer teams.

Volunteers are at the heart of Coldharbour Mill and the work that we do here. They are also vital in running the mill on a day-to-day basis as well as being involved in progressing the many projects which were put on hold due to the pandemic. Some of these are projects which it is important to progress further with before we can allow visitors back as they are pivotal to our visitor offering and are not yet fit for public display.

In light of the current situation, the Trustees and Staff of Coldharbour Mill believe that we need to continue to focus on reintegrating our volunteer teams into the Mill and aim to complete some of the ongoing projects whilst raising funds to enable the safe return of visitors.

The decision has been made not to re-open for the remainder of 2020 as we are beyond halfway through our season, and to come back in a stronger position in 2021. We are aiming to be re-open for Easter 2021.

We want to thank everyone who has supported Coldharbour Mill through this difficult time and we hope that you will all continue to support the Mill into the future.

If you would like to donate to our emergency appeal please visit www.coldharbourmill.org.uk/donate

We hope to see you all at the Mill when we welcome you back in 2021!

Thank you.

Martin Halse. Chief Executive.


Stories of Lockdown Lives

Stories of Lockdown Lives in Uffculme and the surrounding area

We at Coldharbour Mill Museum showcase a huge portion of the rich industrial and social history of the local area over the last 220 years. It inspires the local community, national and international visitors with stories of the regions industrial heritage as well as engaging a large volunteer workforce who continue to create new stories at the Mill every day.

Coldharbour Mill is now looking for our communities’ stories of life during the pandemic and how it has impacted everyone’s lives. We feel as a local depository of history it is important for us to continue to record the lives of people at and around the Mill for posterity.

Our aim is to create an archive of the current times that can live on in the Mill’s history for others to reflect upon in years to come, with a goal of one day creating an exhibition of these stories. Although these times have been extremely hard for a lot of us, many have also found new passions, honed creative skills and already created wonderful pieces of writing, poetry and artwork which we would love to include in this project along with recordings of conversations, written stories, diaries, blogs or local crafts you have created that have significance of these times and you would like to be a part of our shared history.

If you are interested in having your memories, stories, artwork, writing, conversations or poetry included and shared please send us your work for consideration.

You can email digital works and stories to gm@coldharbourmill.org.uk

Or you can post us work to Coldharbour Mill Museum, Uffculme, Cullompton, Devon, EX15 3EE.

Please see our terms & conditions before entering your work.


Thank You to Arts Council England & The National Lottery

Thank You to Arts Council England & The National Lottery

We are pleased to be sending our thanks to Arts Council England and The National Lottery for granting Coldharbour Mill Trust relief funding in light of the current Covid-19 Pandemic.

The Covid-19 crisis hit just as the Mill was planning its re-opening for our season at the end of March – putting a halt on the huge amount of work being undertaken by our staff and volunteers. The Mill is still closed to the public though we may be seeing the light at the distant end of the tunnel.

Arts Council England have granted Coldharbour Mill Trust funding to cover some of the most urgent costs. The funds cover:

  • Redirecting our Business model to take into account the impact of the pandemic
  • Some Staff costs – to protect our small team and ensure we can continue with preservation of Coldharbour Mill
  • Covering some income losses due to the current closure to the public
  • Allowing for new IT equipment to allow safe, remote working

These costs will also allow us to start reengaging our volunteer teams and working on projects like our Mill Pond Restoration (Splash!), which will benefit the Mill in the future. We will also start laying the stepping stones to re-opening to the public and educational groups.

Our aim is to come back from this crisis in the best possible position so that we can push the Mill on to an even more exciting future.