Eling Experience closes for £1.3million improvements
Work is set to begin on developing one of the New Forest’s most important heritage attractions after the Eling Experience closed to the public on Saturday 28 February. New Forest District Council and Totton and Eling Town Council are investing in the future of the historic Grade II* listed tide mill (c.1785), heritage centre and surrounding open spaces after securing a grant of £1.3m from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Eling Experience is expected to re-open in Summer 2016.
The improvement scheme, developed with the assistance of heritage industry experts, will include: essential conservation and restoration work to the mill; extension and development of the heritage centre, creating a new learning centre and café; and improvements to the surrounding open spaces allowing ‘access for all’ to the important natural heritage areas of Goatee Beach and Bartley Water. The redeveloped attraction will offer an exciting programme of activities and events involving the community as participants and volunteers, including opportunities for volunteer millers. For the first time full school groups will be able to access all there is on offer. The redeveloped learning centre and the café will provide exciting and flexible spaces for the local residents, groups, schools and visitors.
During the closure period local schoolchildren, students and the community will be involved in projects which will help to shape plans for future programmes of activity, ensuring the attraction reflects their needs. More information on the development and how to get involved will be available during the project at elingexperience.co.uk.
The partnership between the town and district councils has been successful in securing the funding and developing the vision for the Eling Experience. Now Councillors Di Brooks and Mel Molyneux are looking forward to work starting: “We’re very excited to see this next phase of development beginning in Eling’s long and fascinating history” said Councillor Brooks, NFDC’s portfolio holder for health and leisure. “The improvements being made possible by the Heritage Lottery Fund grant will ensure that the tide mill continues to be central to the local community, as well as becoming more accessible and appealing to visitors.”
Councillor Molyneux of Totton and Eling Town Council said “We know that this is a very special place to local people and we’re delighted to be able to secure its future and give visitors the chance to get involved and learn more about this unique piece of our heritage.”
As you know, we’re now in the final stages of preparations for work to begin on developing The Eling Experience, including the Heritage Centre. We’ll be extending the building and developing a completely new permanent display.
Since the Heritage Centre opened in 1996, the community have been very generous with their donation of artefacts. We’ll be keeping some of those donations for display in the new-look building and for other work with visitors to The Eling Experience. We’ve been talking to other heritage organisations looking to improve their displays and have found new homes for some artefacts we won’t be using in future. But that has still left us with some audio-visual equipment, typewriters, bottles and other objects. If you donated an artefact to the Heritage Centre and would like it back, please contact either Helen Robinson or Ruth Kerr on 023 80 424006 at your earliest convenience with details (make, model, description etc).