A new book telling the story of the restoration of an historic mill has been published.
The book tells of the work carried out by a team of more than 180 volunteers to restore Stotfold Watermill after the great fire of 1992 and create the adjoining award-winning nature reserve.
It was written by two of the Mill’s volunteers, Pam Manfield and Trevor Radford.
At a launch ceremony attended by Trustees of the Mill, members of the Mill Management Team and many of the original volunteers, Helen Nellis, HM Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire and Alistair Burt, MP for North East Bedfordshire were formally presented with copies of the new book by John Saunders, Chair of the Board of Trustees.
Liz Durrant, Manager of Stotfold Library was presented with a copy for the library, by Stotfold Mayor, Brian Collier.
Alistair Burt said: “This is yet another example of the impact that Stotfold Watermill and its Nature Reserve have in this county. They are a real asset to both residents of Bedfordshire and the many visitors from increasingly further afield.”
Copies of the book, priced £12.95, are now available from the Kingfisher Gift Shop.
From June they will also be on sale via the Mill website (www.stotfoldmill.com) and at other outlets.
Trevor Radford said: “We wrote this book to pay tribute to the huge amount of work and vast optimism of the people who have saved the Mill - from those who shifted the very first barrow of ash, to those who continue to ensure the building’s financial future is assured. It also records the work of those who have lovingly created the award-winning Nature Reserve that sits beside the Mill complex.”
Pam Manfield said: ”As a guide to visitors, I thought I knew a fair amount about the effort involved in the restoration of the Mill and the creation of the Nature Reserve. The research for this book has really revealed to me the astounding courage and determination of the first volunteers, faced with a soot-blackened ruin and three muddy fields.”
She added: ”The title caused us most trouble, but we finally decided that so many volunteers recalled the last miller, Sam Randall, wandering round in a flat cap and an old mac, with a cigarette in his mouth and hands behind his back, muttering, ”They think they’ll restore it. They’ll never do it”. So the title finally became ‘They’ll never do it! But volunteers did restore Stotfold Watermill and created a Nature Reserve.’”
She added: ”However, after the first time flour was produced, Sam was heard to say “I went to bed a happy man’. So he was finally convinced.”
Trev Radford said: “Sam’s love for the Mill was evident to all of us. At the official opening ceremony in 2006 I noticed him affectionately patting the newly-restored front wall.”
Containing 174 pages and with over 130 full colour photographs, the book also documents the history of the Mill, one of the oldest named buildings in Stotfold and details many of the major events of recent times, including the formal opening by the Duke of Edinburgh in 2006, the opening of the Nature Reserve by Baroness Young of Old Scone and the visit of the Duke of Kent in 2011.