Hamish Ogden Heritage Apprenticeship Scheme Underway at Warwick Bridge Mill

Mill machinery at Warwick Bridge corn mill

The Hamish Ogston Foundation Heritage Building Skills Programme is a major five year in-work training and apprenticeships programme run in conjunction with Historic England. Based in the North of England, it will run from 2021 to 2026. It is funded by a £4.3 million grant from The Hamish Ogston Foundation; a charity supporting health, heritage, and music in the UK and abroad.

The Hamish Ogston Foundation, https://www.hamishogstonfoundation.org/, is funding a traineeship for millwrights, without whose repair and maintenance skills the mills would literally grind to a halt. The funding will initially cover a placement at Warwick Bridge Corn Mill in Cumberland, dating back to the twelfth century, and the late eighteenth century Gayle Mill in the Yorkshire Dales, the oldest structurally unaltered cotton mill in existence and still in use as a water-powered sawmill.

The programme aims to:

  • Reduce shortages in heritage craft skills
  • Improve the condition of Heritage at Risk (HAR) sites
  • Create viable career opportunities for young people from less-advantaged backgrounds

The programme will also pioneer a new training model, which has two main elements:

  • A three-tiered training scheme for craftspeople to gain direct experience at critical points in their careers
  • On-site training with expert teams at some of the country’s most valuable historic buildings and places, identified by Historic England as ‘at risk’ and in need of rescue.

Amongst the sites chosen as venues for the apprentices is Warwick Bridge Corn Mill, Carlisle, where the Cultura Trust will be the host firm for the initial Millwright Conservation Trainee placement. Warwick Bridge Mill was known as Little Corby Mill, and there has been a mill in Little Corby since at least the mid-12th Century. The Mill was rebuilt in 1802 for £750, with most of the present structure dating to a rebuild of 1839. Listed Grade II* in the 1980s, the Corn Mill ceased working in 1989 when the last miller retired. Increasing vulnerability from deterioration and the uncertain future resulted in the Corn Mill being added to the Heritage at Risk Register in 2000 when the register was only a year old. Carlisle City Council approached Cultura Trust (then known as NECT) to see if it could acquire and save the Corn Mill from dereliction or redevelopment. The Trust bought the mill in 2015 and have been progressing restoration and re-use as a community bakery in the last few years.

Funding for this restoration have been provided by the National Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic England, The Architectural Heritage Fund,  the RDEP Leader Fund, Cumbria County Council, Cumbria Waste Management Environment Trust, Arts Council England, and other private trusts and foundations. This has allowed the main building work to be undertake, along with the restoration of the milling machinery and waterwheel, as well as community engagement, education, and training activities. The Hamish Ogden Heritage Apprenticeship at Warwick Bridge is the latest phase of this project and will help to complete the restoration of the waterwheel and gear system.

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