A FUNDING boost will help an historic mill to reopen to visitors in 2021.

Cultura Trust has received £159,000 to support its sites and collections, including Gayle Mill, an 18th Century watermill near Hawes.

The funding will enable work for future public access and for new digital resources for online learning.

It has also allowed the trust to appoint Richmondshire county councillor Stuart Parsons to prepare the mill for reopening.

Cultura Trust is one of 445 organisations sharing £103 million to help them through the coronavirus pandemic, to help restart vital reconstruction work and maintenance on cherished heritage sites, keeping venues open and supporting those working in the sector.

This vital funding is from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage and the Heritage Stimulus Fund - funded by Government and administered at arm’s length by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Both funds are part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund which is designed to secure the future of Britain’s museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues with emergency grants and loans.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “As a nation it is essential that we preserve our heritage and celebrate and learn from our past. This massive support package will protect our shared heritage for future generations, save jobs and help us prepare for a cultural bounce-back post-Covid.”

Graham Bell, Director of Cultura Trust, said: “We are very pleased to have been selected to receive this valuable support and, as part of our commitment to Gayle Mill, to be able to announce that the funding has enabled us to appoint Stuart Parsons to help us prepare the mill for Covid-safe reopening in 2021.

"Stuart is well known in the dales as a former mayor of Richmondshire District Council and for his many personal community responsibilities.”

Stuart Parsons, a councillor for Richmond Town, Richmondshire District and North Yorkshire County Councils, said: “The mill represents over 200 years of British industrial innovation. I’m thrilled to become part of its story, especially during these difficult times. For me, it is the people in the story which brings it to life.”

Jill McMullon, chair of Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council, Richmondshire District councillor, said: “Gayle Mill is very much a part of our local history and it will be amazing to have it restored back to a working mill. In such difficult times it’s lovely to have such good news and we look forward to see its progress and eventual completion.”

Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s Chief Executive said: “It is heartening to see grants, both large and small, from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund helping heritage sites and organisations across the country which have been hit hard by the effects of Covid-19.

"These grants range from giving skilled craft workers the chance to keep their trades alive to helping heritage organisations pay the bills, and to kick-starting repair works at our best-loved historic sites. The funding is an essential lifeline for our heritage and the people who work tirelessly to conserve it for us all, so that we can hand it on to future generations.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “It is absolutely right that investing in heritage should be a priority during this crisis and this support by Government is crucial.

"Heritage creates jobs and economic prosperity, is a major driver for tourism and makes our towns, cities, and rural areas better places to live."

All of this is so important for our wellbeing and will be particularly vital when we start to emerge from this incredibly difficult time. “Our heritage is still facing a perilous future – we are not out of the woods yet. But this hugely welcome funding from Government, and the money we continue to invest from the National Lottery, has undoubtedly stopped heritage and the organisations that care for it being permanently lost.” Kate Mavor, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: “This support for our nation’s heritage is fantastic news. Over the last few months, our teams have been working hard to welcome visitors back safely to the great castles, stone circles, abbeys and historic houses in our care. This funding will help us invest to safeguard the historic fabric of these much-loved places, which everyone can learn from and enjoy.”

In addition to employing Cllr Parsons, the package of funding for Cultura will help Gayle Mill with setting up a photogrammetry community project to produce a digital model of the mill and digitise some collections, make preparations for Covid-safe public access, produce new visitor information and support volunteers.