A new chapter begins today for historic Willsbridge Mill as the community interest company which has taken over the lease from Avon Wildlife Trust moves in.
The group already had an involvement with the mill, having run the Coffee Mill café inn the barn, but the café closed last year after the wildlife trust felt it was too difficult to support.
For the past three decades, the mill, barn and land immediately surrounding it were leased from South Gloucestershire Council by the trust.
The mill buildings fell into disrepair after the Great Flood in July 1968. The mill and adjoining land were later bought by builders George Wimpey & Co and in 1979 they donated the mill to Kingswood District Council, which entered into an agreement with the trust. The mill and adjacent long barn were restored, opening in 1986 as an environmental education centre.
AWT advised the council some time ago that it did not want to continue with the lease for the buildings when it came up for renewal but it would continue to maintain Willsbridge Valley as a wildlife habitat.
Sue Smith, one of the directors, said: “This is the start of a long-term regeneration project which will benefit the local residents and visitors to the site. Together we can transform this tired and neglected space into a great community asset.”
Getting the café open again is a priority and the group is appealing for donations of money, as well as furniture and kitchen items.
Repair work will be carried out on the buildings from 13th to 31st October but bookings are being taken to hire room in the barn from 3rd November.
Volunteers will be needed to do shifts in the café and to get involved in other ways, including working on the large area of woodland that connects to Willsbridge Hill which is covered by the lease. WMCR will be working on a woodland management plan with the Forestry Commission.
Part of the land is earmarked for a 25-space car park with a new access from Willsbridge Hill.
WMCR also plans to create space for artisan businesses by converting the ruins of an old house called The Limes that is in the woodland
Find out more about the group at the Willsbridge Mill Community Refresh Facebook page or email email@example.com