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Cash boost for visitor attraction that gave lockdown lifeline

Written by on 12/10/2020

Barnsley’s historic Worsbrough Mill – which helped to plug the gap for flour when the nation turned to lockdown baking – has been thrown a financial lifeline by the government.

The mill and surrounding country park has been awarded money from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage, a £63m pot which will assist 433 organisations nationally as they get to grips with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their finances.

At Worsbrough, the cash will be used to create new visitor gallery and shop, which will allow for social distancing – a problem with the existing arrangements because the buildings are old and the milling equipment, powered by a water wheel, tightly packed.

Upgrade: Worsbrough Mill is to be improved for social distancing

A derelict site will also be used to create a new hub for the volunteers who help to keep the site running, as well as providing space to extend the on-site cafe, which is popular with visitors.

Barnsley Council says the money will pave the way for long-term improvements at the site.

The money will also be used to pay for important checks on the mill machinery, centuries old technology which was restored in the 1970s after the mill fell out of use decades earlier.

Since the pandemic hit and sparked a home-baking boom as workers stayed at home on lockdown, the mill has been working at full capacity to produce flour which was used to help plug a shortage on supermarket shelves.

In the past few months it has turned out more than 25,000 tonnes, going both to domestic consumers locally and businesses across the north.

Barnsley Councillor Tim Cheetham, the ruling cabinet’s culture spokesman, said: “Financial support during this difficult time is critical and are delighted that we have been successful in securing funding.

“The changes will have positive impacts on visitors and the local community for years to come.”