The Mills Archive Trust
© Image courtesy of the Mills Archive
This year the Mills Archive is 10 years old. The Mills Archive was established in 2002 as a permanent repository for historical and contemporary material on traditional mills and milling, and to make that material available for public inspection and use in research and learning. It is managed by the Mills Archive Trust and has rescued over a million documents and images that might otherwise have ended up in a landfill site.
The archive was originally set up to care for four historically important Foundation Collections. The private collections of M. M. Cookson, J. K. Major and A. Stoyel are three of the largest collections of material on traditional mills and milling in the UK, and represent between them more than 130 years researching and working with mills. The fourth collection consists of material deposited over the years with the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings Mills Section by various mill researchers and enthusiasts; as the Section does not have the space or the expertise to develop these collections it has agreed to pass them to the Mills Archive to better care for them. In addition to these, the archive has been given more than 70 other collections of varying size. All together the collections have more than 2,000,000 items. These show the rich and diverse crafts, buildings, machinery, equipment and people involved with mills in the UK and around the world.
Altogether the Mills Archive has some 30 volunteers working on the collections, using nine computers linked to a networked catalogue. Many volunteers have been with the trust for years, but over the last two years they have recruited a new generation of helpers by introducing a very successful work experience programme for young people who are considering a career in archives. Three of these have won awards in the intensively competitive Vodafone competition for charity volunteers. This influx of would-be professional archivists has combined well with the established workforce, with each learning from the other. They aim to become a nationally designated archive which would signify that mill research and recording is a serious subject, worthy of the nation's support.
One of the Vodafone winners, Nathanael Hodge, won his award to start including the Archive catalogue on the Archives Hub. Mills Archive Trust Chairman, Ron Cookson, MBE, described this as "an important step in bringing the Archive content to a much wider audience; now we are well-established within the "mills" fraternity, the Hub is central to our plans to achieve wider recognition".
To this end Vice-Chairman, Peter King, is leading a small team to move the current off-line MS-Access based catalogue to an on-line database which will enable easier transfer of data to the Hub. The system being most actively considered is ICA-AtoM and Nathanael will be playing an important role in that development.
If you register to use the Mills Archive Catalogue you can download any of their 20,000 images.
The Mills Archive and Library: http://www.millsarchivetrust.org/index.php/centre/
© Images courtesy of the Mills Archive