PENICUIK COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT TRUST LTD
Below is the story in October
Read the latest in November here!
Our Bank Mill year of lease is coming to an end.
We have made an offer to purchase. Time is running out.
Note from the chair: Penicuik’s Bank Mill Project – The first year
The Bank Mill Project to transform the last historic paper mill building left on the Esk into a nationally important Papermaking Heritage Centre has received praise and recognition from many quarters across the UK and abroad. It is still in its early stages. This is a progress report on events in the past year -a year in which we have secured finances above the market valuation and have submitted an offer to purchase.
Our aim for Bank Mill
Our vision for Bank Mill is to create a nationally
important attraction that brings visitors to
A year ago: the emergency lease
To forestall the sale and demolition of the last of
what were once very many historic paper mill buildings on the Esk, we signed an
Market value and purchase
Bank Mill was this year valued for the Trust by property and valuation surveyors Hardies of Dalkeith at £150,000. This figure we believe is essentially the same as the market value estimate given by the vendor’s surveyors. We are delighted to be able to report that we now have money ready to pay this market value and more, and our solicitors Gillespie Macandrew have submitted an offer to purchase at £175,000 with an entry date of October 20. Our funds have come not from Lottery grants, nor from local or national government, nor from large wealthy outside donors, but from the commitment of local people. Raising more than the current market value has been a big achievement for us in the present financial climate, where fund-raising remains extremely difficult.
Premium for housing development.
We all want an attractive development of Bank Mill. The vendors believe that Midlothian Council would be happy to see housing development on the site. Remembering days of boom not long ago they may hope that it could be sold for two or more times the current market value. Hardies are of the opinion that the site’s location and conditions limit its current value. As a charity, the Trust must not stray far from professional advice.
Papermaking exhibitions and workshops
Over the last year PCDT has prepared displays on paper making and local heritage, and shown them to the public in the mill. In April, we held a trial Open Day at which children and other members of the public could make and take home their own sheet of paper, with the supervision of a qualified outreach papermaker who gave her services free. Since July 9, Bank Mill Open Day exhibitions have been weekly on Saturdays or Sundays, with other occasional children’s workshops on paper related crafts, ranging from further papermaking to papier maché and origami.
Doors Open Day
Our inclusion in the Midlothian Doors Open Day in
September – part the European Heritage Days programme – recognises that Bank
Mill is a place of historical and cultural importance. 150 visitors from as far
a field as Kelso,
Further evidence for the support for the Bank Mill
Project within and beyond
We see education and training at
the heart of the Bank Mill Project and are working with teachers in
National and international impact
Roger Kelly has been invited to make a presentation
Visit of students and staff from
Valleyfield demolition display Local papermaking history and process display Esparto processing display
Displays out of picture in machine hall: Bertrams and other machinery illustrations
Twenty students from the Glasgow College of Art
Architecture School chose us for their research project and visited Bank Mill
on September 30. The Open University Scottish Graduates Association is visiting
on October 15. The head of the Paper Industries Technical Advisory Board and an
advisor to The Paper Trail based at the Hertfordshire, home of the first
papermaking machine in the world, have visited the
mill to discuss our project. We have visited heritage papermaking centres in
Until we become owners, charity law does not allow
us to put resources in a major building refurbishment or to install valuable
paper making machinery. However, two senior paper making engineers, including
Barry Read of the Papermaking Industry Technical Advisory Board, visited Bank
Mill to discuss of the project. They judged that our proposal to produce
low-volume, high-value hand-made rag paper for the niche graphics art market
could be commercially viable. With a specialist engineer from the Two Rivers
Local volunteers contributed hundreds of hours of their time working to clean and repaint key parts of the old building so that the public have been able to visit and see its potential. After plumbing and sanitation was damaged by the big freeze over New Year, a local plumber gave his labour free to replace all pipework and restore use of the toilets.
Though water power is not a feature of Midlothian
Local Plan’s Renewable Energy policy, 150 years ago this was the main source
of power for local industry. The
Engineering interest: MacTaggart Scott
We are not yet in a position to pursue such a scheme until Bank Mill is secured, but have been encouraged by supportive Penicuik businesses in the engineering field. We have begun correspondence with MacTaggart Scott, the innovative Loanhead-based world naval engineers. They have expressed great interest in the project and invited us for discussions about their supplying mechanical, electrical and hydraulic work free or at cost in support.
Condition of Bank Mill
The remaining parts of Bank Mill – the core machine
hall probably dating to 1803 plus the 1872 addition of the railway wagon
loading bays – have been neglected and are no longer wind and water tight.
Repairing the valley gutters and slates to stop water leaking is obviously a
priority but has to be delayed until we become owners because that is generally
a condition of repair grants. It only goes to emphasise the commitment of wellwishers happy to come to benefit events where they had
to dodge the drips! One of the three Bank Mill patrons, Colonel Edward Cowan,
is a senior descendent of Alexander Cowan, the papermaking patriarch. After a
career in the Army (his son has been a commander in
This project has captured the public imagination
and has undoubtedly helped to increase membership of the Trust, now over 200
and on a rising trend. So far, we have
made neither structural changes to the building nor
changed its external appearance.
However, we have begun the task of planning future refurbishment and
building work, and have had helpful support and offers from architects. We want this to include the construction of a
new pedestrian and disabled access from
Our intention is to make Bank Mill self-financing
for recurrent costs for both the heritage centre and the making of paper, with
emphasis on education, training and the development of craft skills. Visits to
seek advice and information about the management of heritage centres have
included the Biggar Museum Trust, Heart of Hawick, New Lanark, the Poldrate
Centre in Haddington and the
Bank Mill is essentially a people project which we intend to build on sound foundations, with financial self-sufficiency as the watchword. We believe we have shown this in our Cinema for Penicuik which has now become weekly with solid local youth support. For Bank Mill, our patrons Ian MacDougall the writer and Gerda Stevenson the actor will be a source of good advice on working history at the mills and the use of drama to bring it to life.
The Bank Mill project has gained the support of people in Penicuik and the surrounding region. It represents a truly imaginative scheme for improving the economic viability and quality of life in the area. Local people need the reassurance that Midlothian Council and national bodies stand beside us in supporting the principle of our project. That support will be a big help for fund-raising to adapt and develop Bank Mill in the months ahead.
PENICUIK COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT TRUST LTD
Penicuik Community Development Trust Ltd (responsible for the Bankmill Project, Penicuik Food Project, Penicuik Open House and Penicuik Cinema) is a company limited by guarantee number 380626 with charitable status registered with OSCR number SC O37990 – Directors Roger Kelly (chair), Roger Hipkin (secretary 20A John St. Penicuik EH26 8A), Jane MacKintosh (treasurer) forming part of a Managing committee with Anna Graham, Bill Fearnley, Caroline Maciver, Chantal Geoghegan, Chris Langdale, Dave Stokes, Doreen Gillon, Jane Kelly, Marianne Cortes, Mose Hutchinson, Penny Wooding, Simon Fraser, Ulla Hipkin, elected annually at the Trust's AGM. Patrons Ian MacDougall, Gerda Stevenson, Colonel Edward Cowan. Solicitors Gillespie Macandrew. Trust official Website www.penicuikcdt.org.uk Bank Mill website:www.bankmill.co.uk The Trust is a Member of Development Trusts Association Scotland (DTAS) and works with Penicuik Community Council, Midlothian Council, Midlothian Voluntary Action, the Midlothian Growing Ideas Partnership (including Midlothian Garden Services, Mayfield & Easthouses Development Trust, and other garden and food projects in Midlothian associated with the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens), and the Mapa Scotland restoration of the Great Polish Map of Scotland at Eddleston, , and supported the papemaking tercentenary led by Penicuik Historical Society. . There are personal and mutually supportive links with Penicuik Community, Sport & Leisure Foundation, Penicuik Community Arts Association, the Penicuik House Project and the Saltire Society, with community groups and trusts in Aberfeldy, Broughty Ferry, Gorebridge and Moffat, with Penicuik’s twin town at L’Isle-sur-la Sorgue , Vaucluse, Provence, with Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec and with the Papeterie St-Armand in
Books by Ian MacDougall record human stories of men, women and children in the Penicuik mills
Through The Mill, the personal recollections of Penicuik paper mill workers, is edited by Ian MacDougall and published priced £11.99 in a 670 page paperback by The Scottish Working People’s History Trust FK1 5LN, ISBN 978-9559981-0-2
The Prisoners at Penicuik and All Men are Brethren record use of the Mills as prisoner-of-war camps two centuries ago
Roger Kelly’s Papermaking homepage
Roger Kelly’s original Bank Mill Project page
Simon Fraser & PCDT’s www.bankmill.co.uk