A Thirty-Year Headache Solved!

A Thirty-Year Headache Solved!

Coldharbour Mill have been granted £495,000 by the Museum Estate and Development Fund

Coldharbour Mill is one of more than 70 cultural organisations across the country have been given a financial boost by the government to improve people’s access to arts and support local economic growth through culture while safeguarding vital local collections for future generations.

The fund, which totals more than £200 million and was launched in 2019, is made up of three separate streams, the Cultural Development Fund, the Libraries Improvement Fund and the Museum Estate and Development Fund. It is designed to protect and improve people’s access to culture, regenerate communities, upgrade buildings and digital infrastructure and use investment to promote economic growth.

Coldharbour Mill are thrilled to have been awarded £495,000 of funding in order to tackle a backlog of urgent maintenance issues to the Estate, this includes replacing the Mill’s main fire escape part of which had been condemned for over 30 years closing off more than 25% of the Victorian Factory. In addition, other urgent maintenance will be completed, seeing the leat bridges replaced and the Mill Yard re-surfaced allowing for greater access across the estate for our visitors and volunteers, and the outside staircase to the Carpenters workshops will be replaced.

This funding will see us tackle this significant maintenance backlog, which had been exasperated by the Covid-19 pandemic, and will lead to transformational change for Coldharbour Mill.

This funding will allow Coldharbour Mill Trust to progress its plans laid out in ‘Coldharbour Mill Vision 2032’, our ten-year vision for the progress of Coldharbour Mill. Dealing with these maintenance issues and repairs are key to making Coldharbour Mill financially self-sufficient and allowing Coldharbour Mill to remain relevant to our audiences into the future. This will be one of the first steps for Coldharbour Mill as we continue on our journey towards Vision 2032, a massive leap forward in securing the future of the Mill and continuing to share our heritage with future generations. 


Pattern Book Conservation

Kathleen Sprague Conservation Room

In November 2022 we were ecstatic to open a Conservation Room dedicated to Kathleen Sprague MBE, who was a huge supporter of the Mill for over 30 years. The previously unused space has been transformed into the Conservation Room thanks to funding from South West Museum Development and match-funding from Coldharbour Mill Trust

The Conservation Room is to play a massive part in helping Coldharbour Mill Trust restore and exhibit our hugely significant Pattern Books. It will also allow the Trust to train more volunteers in Conservation & Curation. 

This new facility will enable volunteers to be trained in conservation work .This is the first time the Museum has had a dedicated space for a programme of works on conserving our collections.


Restoration of hugely significant Pattern Books

The Restoration and Conservation of our Pattern Books is now underway and will continue throughout 2023 thanks to Idlewild Trust, The Arts Society and AIM (Association of Independent Museums). With over 100 of the Pattern Books to survey, our Curatorial volunteers are working hard behind the scenes ensuring the books are carefully looked after to secure the future of them at the Mill for visitors to enjoy. You can keep up to date with the progress below! 


With thanks to..

AIM Logo

“We support programmes that address the lack of opportunities for professional musicians, dancers, actors, writers, artists and those involved creatively in the arts at an early stage in their career. 

We also support the conservation of important works of art and historic objects being lost through the lack of funds to look after these works.”

More can be found on their website HERE

“The Arts Society is a leading arts education charity with a global network of local Societies which bring people together through a shared curiosity for the arts.

Our events provide welcoming places to hear expert lecturers share their specialist knowledge about the arts.

We preserve and contribute to our artistic heritage through volunteering and grants.

Our strength is our people, joined together by a passion for the arts which can nourish and empower us all. Our work creates a better, healthier and more connected society.”

More can be found on their website HERE

AIM was established in 1977 to address the needs of the growing independent museum sector, providing a network of mutual help and support that would share good practice and create a singular voice for hundreds of organisations.

Today AIM continues that work, supporting and championing independent museums, galleries and heritage sites across the UK.”

More can be found on their website HERE

“South West Museum Development exists to support museums and heritage organisations to develop and improve across all areas of their operation. We provide trusted, local and relevant development services to support museum and heritage organisations to improve, innovate, collaborate and celebrate. We understand the specific context and priorities of museums at both a regional and local level.”

More can be found on their website HERE

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Nominations Galore!

Nominations for Coldharbour Mill

Having recently been nominated for Small Attraction of the Year and winning Bronze at the awards – more HERE

The Mill has also been nominated for the Tech Champions’ Choice in the #DigitalCultureAwards! In this new category, Digital Culture Network recognise an organisation or individual’s dedication to developing digital skills or using technology to drive change.

For us, a new eCommerce website (www.coldharbourmill.com) dedicated to the story of the Mill and as a shop for our unique yarns & textiles!
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Energy costs at Coldharbour Mill

Energy costs soar for the Heritage sector

The costs of energy bills have gone up substantially for all of us in the last 6 months and the heritage sector is no different. Coldharbour Mill are just one of many affected museums and we have encountered a massive rise of 360%. 

The winter period is always extremely challenging for the charity, with less visitors we see our income drop, and that provides serious challenges to our cash flow, the situation will become self-sustaining once we get the seasonal visitors in numbers from April, however the next year will be challenging in the current financial climate.

A survey by the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) has shown that a fifth of the museums that responded are considering reducing opening hours and 40% have or plan to scale down their activities to cope with rising energy bills. A small number said they were at risk of insolvency over the crisis, although 70% said they had reserves to get them through the short term.
Association of Independent Museums
The soaring cost of energy bills could be more of a risk to the UK’s museums than the Covid-19 pandemic, Museums Association (MA) director Sharon Heal has warned.
Association of Independent Museums

Energy Bill Relief Scheme 2023

The UK’s museum sector will continue to receive an enhanced discount on its energy bills until 31 March 2024, the UK Government has confirmed.

Eligible areas of work include museum activities, library and archive activities, operation of historical sites and buildings and similar visitor attractions, and botanical and zoological gardens and nature reserve activities.

These businesses will receive a discount reflecting the difference between a price threshold and the relevant wholesale price. The price threshold for the scheme will be £99/MWh for gas and £185/MWh for electricity.


Source – Museums Association


The NCVO (The National Council for Voluntary Organisations) have been working on a long-term solution to the energy crisis including:

  1. Targeted support. All high-energy use charities to get enhanced support, such as hospices, refuges, social care and community leisure providers.
  2. A fairer solution for charities. Government should bring innovators, energy leaders and the charity sector together, exploring options for a social/community tariffs as well as energy caps for voluntary organisations.
  3. A reduction in energy usage overall. The Budget in March must cover energy reduction measures, including better plans and incentives for introducing renewable energy and immediate solutions like insulation.
  4. A decrease in the UK’s vulnerability. The government must prevent this happening again by lowering the impact of external shocks that affect energy supply and drive up costs.

Read more on the NCVO website below. 

Booking Steam Days in advance

Book 4 weeks in advance and get a huge 30% off your admission tickets!

2023 brings a range of exciting events at Coldharbour Mill and to help you enjoy them even more, we are introducing a special pre booking offer. You can read more below.


Book 4 weeks in advance of our Steam Days and receive a huge 30% off your ticket prices!


Discount applied at checkout

Tickets for our events can be purchased HERE

If you have any questions regarding this offer, please contact Luke – marketing@coldharbourmill.org.uk


Coldharbour Mill announced as finalist in Devon Tourism Awards

Coldharbour Mill announced as a finalist at the Devon Tourism Awards

Coldharbour Mill have been announced as a finalist in the Devon Tourism Awards in the Small Visitor Attraction Of The Year category.

The annual competition is now in its 13th year, with plenty of developments along the way as the awards have evolved in parallel to the industry itself. This year’s awards have taken ever greater account of entrants’ commitment to the environment and community, as well as displaying an exemplary digital presence. The awards organisers have evolved too, this year winning their own ‘Outstanding’ accreditation in the Awards TrustMark scheme.

Winners will be announced at Home Park, the home of Plymouth Argyle Football Club, on 2 February 2023, with successful businesses in many categories fast tracked into the South West Tourism Excellence Awards in March 2023 and possibly invited to represent Devon in the national VisitEngland Awards, in which Devon has previously had many top winners.

For a full list of finalists please click here

Virtual Tour

Virtual tour of Coldharbour Mill

Below you will find a Virtual Tour of Coldharbour Mill, allowing you to experience our Georgian Mill right at your fingertips. You can access the tour full screen by clicking the square in the bottom right once you’ve clicked the ‘play’ button.

Charitable Foundation secures the future of textile heritage skills at Coldharbour Mill

Multi Award winner Meg Stavaru joins the Coldharbour Mill team at their historical textile Mill in Devon

Meg Stavaru joins the Coldharbour Mill team in November having worked previously at the Queen Street Mill in Lancashire. Meg has a plethora of skills that she brings to Devon and went to Norwich University of the Arts to receive her Masters Degree in Textile Design. Also completing an internship at Whitchurch Silk Mill.


Winner of The Batsford Prize in Applied Arts / Textile design, first prize in the Society of Dyers and Colourists Regional Heat Competition and Meg was recently selected for the Vice Chancellors Commendation Award in Norwich.

Previously Coldharbour Mill have had to limit the amount of days that they are in production, meaning there was limited training and engagement opportunities and only some visitors were able to see its heritage machines in action but this new position opens up more opportunities for others to discover and learn about textiles and the heritage of the Mill, once described as “probably one of the best-preserved textile mill complexes in the country.” By Historic England.

Creating more opportunities to work closely with schools and universities through the Mills increased ability to host apprentices, placements and work experience, in addition to the broadening of volunteer opportunities to gain experiences and skills running the vintage looms and wool spinning machines on the factory floor.

Meg said “I am passionate about the journey of woven textiles from thread to cloth. I enjoy the hands on approach and physicality of being a part of the heritage whilst continuing an age old tradition. I believe in a sustainable future where buying British is at the forefront.”

Chief Executive Martin Halse says “The timing of Meg joining Coldharbour Mill couldn’t be better as the Mill are launching a new e-commerce website specifically for the sale of yarn and textiles produced at the Mill in November, our thanks to the great support given by The Scottish Power Foundation who’s £76,000 grant has secured heritage textile production at the Mill for future generations.”

Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count at Coldharbour Mill

Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count at Coldharbour Mill

Getting involved at Coldharbour Mill

Big Butterfly Count

Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count takes place from Friday 15th July to Sunday 7th August. You can take part here at Coldharbour Mill!

In another nature-based collaboration, Coldharbour Mill and Uffculme Green Team’s Wildlife Group are urging people to take part in this year’s Big Butterfly Count and to use their visit to Coldharbour Mill to record their sightings. Gardens around the Mill complex are planted with many wildlife-friendly flowers ideal for a butterfly count and a stroll through the Splash meadow will reveal different species among the grasses and wildflowers. Copies of Butterfly Conservation’s identification and recording sheet will be available in the Coldharbour Mill cafe/ticket office together with information about how you can download the app to your smartphone to submit your sightings instantly if you prefer.

Be featured on our website!

We’d love you to send us your sightings and have a chance to be featured on our website! 

As the summer warms up we’re seeing more species flying and enjoying the abundant nectar from butterfly-friendly flowers and shrubs. But do you know a Gatekeeper from a Meadow Brown? Was that a Ringlet flying past or a Small Tortoiseshell? And what’s the difference between a Red Admiral and a Painted Lady? Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count will not only help you with identification but will also contribute valuable information which will help the organisation understand how butterflies and day-flying moths are doing.

Another nature-based collaboration

Uffculme Green Team’s Wildlife Group

In another nature-based collaboration, Coldharbour Mill and Uffculme Green Team’s Wildlife Group are urging people to take part in this year’s Big Butterfly Count and to use their visit to Coldharbour Mill to record their sightings. Gardens around the Mill complex are planted with many wildlife-friendly flowers ideal for a butterfly count and a stroll through the Splash meadow will reveal different species among the grasses and wildflowers. Copies of Butterfly Conservation’s identification and recording sheet will be available in the Coldharbour Mill cafe/ticket office together with information about how you can download the app to your smartphone to submit your sightings instantly if you prefer.

Chris, a co-ordinator of Uffculme Green Team’s Wildlife Group, told us: “We’re looking forward to this year’s Big Butterfly Count. We regularly monitor the wildlife, plants and insects, including butterflies, around the millpond and Splash meadow. Two years ago a Brown Argus butterfly was spotted there – a species which hasn’t previously been recorded in this area. We excitedly sent photos to the County Butterfly Recorder for confirmation and for his ‘official’ records – and we were thrilled to be told it was indeed a first for the area! So come to Coldharbour Mill to take part in the Big Butterfly Count – who knows what might be waiting for you!”

Yet another good reason to visit Coldharbour Mill in July and August.

Uffculme Green Team’s Wildlife Group can be contacted via uffculmegreenteam@outlook.com and there’s more information at

Amy Stevens placement

Amy Stevens joins Coldharbour Mill on a three week placement

We are delighted to welcome Amy Stevens on a 3 week placement with us starting from today.

Amy will be working in different areas of the mill including production, curatorial, waterways and the retail side of the mill.

Currently studying at the University for the Creative Arts, Amy has a deep understanding and interest in textiles/weaving and heritage.

You can keep up to date with the progress of Amy and her findings below.

Week Commencing 30th May 2022

Future Inspiration

For my first week at the mill, I used photography, sketches and paintings to gather inspiration for future colour pallets for the mills production. Throughout the week I came up with 4 themes and pallets for the wool collections which can be used in the future.

Textile Archives & Spinning

On Tuesday I helped the volunteers to organise the textile archives which are going to be restored and displayed in the future. This was an amazing experience, being able to view past samples across hundreds of years produced in the mill. Recording them in numbered boxes so they can be identified more easily.

I also worked with the production volunteers on Thursday and I learnt about the 5 stages of spinning and got hands on experience working the traditional machinery! I found this knowledge really interesting and it will benefit me in the future whilst weaving to better utilise the properties of spun wool.

Week Commencing 6th June 2022

This week I have been painting designs which hopefully will be used in the shop on gift items. I’ve then digitalised all my work ready for future use. I have also been researching colour trends and the wool market to support my colour pallet ideas.

I worked with the production team on winding and packaging hanks and spinning mixed yarns to reduce waste in the mill, this creates some really interesting yarn colour combinations, great for hand weaving!

I have also been working on tying on the new warp onto one of the production looms in preparation for the next production day! This requires using a weavers knot to tie the new warp to the old warp.

Development of Artisan units | Devon Elevation Fund

Development of Artisan units & workshops

Coldharbour Mill are thrilled to announce that we have been granted £13,513 by Devon County Council – Devon Elevation Fund Community renewal Fund to develop new income streams to secure and grow the business post pandemic, the funds enable a feasibility study on new studio spaces for artisans diversifying the Mills income streams, creating resilience and securing the long term future of 7 staff posts whilst growing the business.


As well as developing the artisan units allowing artists, makers and craftspeople to make and display their goods, this project longer term would offer individuals opportunities to experience and learn new skills and also help Coldharbour Mill grow into different areas.  Additionally, the project will help safeguard existing jobs and potentially create new jobs and volunteer opportunities to help preserve the history whilst shaping the future of the mill for future generations.

Coldharbour Mill are pleased to be working with Mark Muir Architects, Woodquist Associates and MRH MS LTD on this project.

This project has been funded by Devon County Council – Devon Elevation Fund Community Renewal Fund


Platinum Jubilee Events throughout the local area

With many events planned throughout Uffculme and the local area during the Jubilee period, you can find an extensive list below: if you have any questions relating to any of these events you can email us at Marketing@coldharbourmill.org.uk and we will be more than happy to put you in touch with the relevant team. All these events have been part funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, Uffculme Parish Council and Coldharbour Mill.


Saturday 28th May   – The Friends of Coldharbour Mill are holding a Festival Quiz with a buffet and tea/coffee. Please bring your own soft/alcoholic drinks. Places are limited.

Where? Uffculme Village Hall

What time? 7pm – starting at 7.30pm

How much? £5 pp

How to book? Please phone 01884 840880 or 01884 840309 in advance.


Friday 3rd June – Uffculme Green Team have put together a Community Give or Take event. This will be a great community recycling of ‘stuff’. Live music will be provided by Peck & Peck!

Where? Magelake Hall, Uffculme.

What time? 10am-1pm

How much? FREE

How to book? If you intend to bring items please let Angie Cheshire know – angiecheshire@yahoo.co.uk | 01884 841322

Saturday 4th June – Uffculme Lights Committee have put together a fantastic whole day of entertainment. The ‘Jubilee Music in the Meadow’ will include live entertainment, music and competitions. There will also be a 12 piece Michael Bublé tribute band at 6pm. Please bring your own chairs!

Where? Tribute band will be at Magelake Hall but starting at Coldharbour Mill for the Royal Fancy Dress competition.

What time? 1.30pm for the event start at Coldharbour | 6pm for the tribute band

How much? Band cost is £10 (this includes a £2.50 food voucher)

How to book? Tickets will be available on the door

Sunday 5th June – Platinum Jubilee Steam up. Coldharbour Mill have a fun filled day with street entertainment, actors/drama tours, a new Jubilee exhibit compiled by Uffculme Local History Group and the chance to plant a tree for the Queens’ Green Canopy Imitative.

Where? Coldharbour Mill, Uffculme.

What time? This event starts at 10.30am and finishes at 4.30pm

How much? Tickets are between £10-£18 | Free EX15 Residents tickets

How to book? You can book tickets for this event HERE – you can also purchase tickets on the day.



Reimagine Grant – Design Residency by Emily Sorrell

Exploring innovative ideas for immersive learning experiences at Coldharbour Mill with support from Art Fund.

We are thrilled to have kicked off our latest project in collaboration with award winning creative strategist and innovation designer, Emily Sorrell. Emily specialises in experience architecture, working with heritage collections and cultural sites across the UK to design and produce multi-sensory spaces that allow visitors to immerse themselves in moments in history.


Over the next four months, Emily will be at the helm of Coldharbour’s first ever creative research residency, laying the foundations for continuous collaborations with other artists and innovators in the Mill’s future. This has been made possible with the support from Art Fund’s Reimagine grant, which aims to help museums, galleries and cultural organisations to re-examine what a museum could look like post-pandemic.


A series of future-gazing conversations with Emily back in 2020 became the catalyst for these “Unravelling Residencies”. Emily explains, “There has been a mill on this site since (at least) the days of the Doomsday Book – a manuscript record cataloging much of England and parts of Wales: basically the first medieval Yellow pages. This was published in 1086, roughly 37 generations ago. When I first chatted with the Trust back in 2021, I asked what the mill might look like in another 37 generations… an interesting question for any heritage organisation, since preservation and progress aren’t mutually exclusive.”


Emily has already spent a week on site, wandering the spaces, gathering information and exploring the collections and archives, beginning to uncover the lesser-known stories of the wool trade in industrial Britain; its rise, fall and small-scale revival; its worldwide reach; its enormous work force; its innovators… and its black sheep.


Emily is now working remotely from her studio in Cornwall to design an immersive exhibition that pulls on some of these threads, tracing the collection’s enduring relevance across the past present and future to explore how textiles and human lives have always been like warp and weft.


Emily says, “I often talk about the Overview Effect; it’s a dramatic cognitive shift that has been reported by some astronauts. Looking back at the earth changes them deeply. This is a guiding star in my work with museums and communities: bringing a shift in perspective that allows us to see and understand ourselves differently, leaving us with a clearer sense of our place in the context of everything.”


If you’d like to discuss the project, or share your own history of Coldharbour Mill, you can reach Emily here: https://linktr.ee/emilydoesdesign

With support from Art Fund.