Funds plea to fix Willsbridge Mill's pond
The replica water mill turbine
VOLUNTEERS looking after Willsbridge Mill need to raise £4,000 to secure the future of its mill pond.
The pond at the site in Longwell Green was established in 1978, after the original mill pond broke its banks in a storm in 1968.
It is popular with local children and groups who use it for pond dipping but over the last few years has developed a leak.
Willsbridge Mill Community Refresh (WMCR), the group of volunteers who have regenerated the mill over the past seven years, have been told they need to raise 10 per cent of the £40,000 needed to repair the pond in order to apply for a grant.
WMCR spokesperson Tom Baker said: “The mill pond keeps drying out and we know there’s a leak.
“The whole thing needs digging out and new levels put in, including deeper areas that will attract a wider variety of wildlife.”
Elsewhere on the site, the hard work of the volunteers is coming to fruition. The shop is fully open, staffed by volunteers, and the café is back to full opening hours now that Covid restrictions have eased.
The forest school run over the past few months was so popular that tickets sold out within five minutes of going on sale. They are now hoping to run a forest school throughout the week, so more children, schools and childminding groups can access it.
It is hoped that popular events at the mill, including for Halloween and Christmas, will be able to resume this year.
The Willsbridge Valley nature reserve, in which Willsbridge Mill sits, has just been voted the most popular nature reserve to visit by people across Bristol, in a survey by Avon Wildlife Trust.
Mr Baker said: “One of our main aims is inclusion and making this an enjoyable place for everyone, so it’s lovely to hear that so many people are making the most of it.
“Our volunteers really are doing a wonderful job and have achieved so much in lockdown. The place has come on enormously in the past 12 months.”
The mill was built over three centuries ago as an iron mill, eventually becoming a grain mill, but fell into disrepair half a century ago.
The refurbished mill building now houses a museum, including a working replica water mill turbine.
To donate to the fundraiser, go to www.gofundme.com/f/willsbridge-mill