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Steam-powered saw-mill back in grand working order
Actor Robert Hardy, who performed the official reopening of the mill, is shown around by Combe Mill Society president Tony Simmons, right
A VICTORIAN steam-powered sawmill is back in action after a £750,000 overhaul.
Combe Mill, which also served as the Blenheim Palace Estate’s main workshop and forge, was offic-ially reopened by actor Robert Hardy on Sunday.
The Grade II-listed mill dates back to 1852 and has been restored by the Combe Mill Society with the help of a £768,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant.
Work began last November and included the renovation of the roof, installation of a lift and a new tea room. Society chairman Tony Simmons said: “It was a celebration of the reopening and the beginning of a new phase of the project, delivering more hands-on learning experiences to the community and various schools.
“It’s very much a working museum. The whole point is to get kids learning about engineering through project-based learning.”
Mr Simmons added: “The mill has survived from the 1950s through to the modern day virtually unspoiled, it’s like a time capsule.”
He said: “We picked Robert Hardy to reopen it not because he’s an actor but because he’s fascinated by the technology and engineering behind history.
“He was really taken by the place and has asked to be kept informed of our progress.”
Mr Hardy, who played Cornelius Fudge in the Harry Potter films and Siegfried Farnon in All Creatures Great and Small, said: “The Heritage Lottery Fund is one of the most important protection developments.
“Interesting the young so that they have some sort of appreciation and can join the battle to preserve what is worth preserving of our past is a very important thing to try to do.”
The mill, which is open on Wednesday and Sundays, with the engine in steam on the third Sunday in March, April, May, July, August and October, now has a schools partnership for educational visits.
- The society is seeking volunteers to help out on site. Visit http://combemill.org