Blue Flower

We were given an old railway wagon to use as a visitor centre and volunteer base, it was in a barn covered in wood and to move it we had to clear all around it. Work started in December 2015 and this was an ideal time to start as the bone mill had been covered up to protect from frost, so we could not do much work there.

The wagon was moved the short distance to the maltings yard where it was worked on over winter. Most of the wooden sides and doors were rotten and the floor was missing, so all wood was removed after photographing the outside to record numbers and show where fittings go. The metal ends and frame were sound and just needed welding up in a few areas. The metalwork was painted with red oxide then a new plywood and fibreglass roof was fitted.

Plywood side panels were cut and bolted to the frame and a new timber plank floor was fitted. The plywood panels were painted with primer and a tongue and groove ceiling was fitted and varnished. New doors were made and fitted.

Research was carried out using numbers on the side of the wagon and we found it was made at Warrington in 1957 and the original colour was Bauxite, so we repainted the outside in the original livery.

A stable door was fitted on one side and a window was put on the opposite side, then built in seats with storage underneath and a kitchen unit were fitted. The last jobs before taking to site were putting up a bookshelf, installing the woodburner, fitting the gas stove and installing low voltage lighting.

On 26 March 2016 the wagon was moved to the mill and used as a visitor centre and volunteer room for cooking, tea making and shelter. We had an opening ceremony and barbecue on 23/4/16. The inside has display panels showing pictures of the water mill restoration and some of the most interesting finds. There are also books about rivers and mills.

The first use of the wagon as a visitor centre was National Mills Weekend on 14 & 15 May 2016. In 2018 a new visitor centre was built in the style of the original mill building, the railway wagon will stay as a volunteer room and kitchen. In 2022 a nest box camera monitor was installed in the wagon and display panels from the wagon were moved to the new display area in the Little Mill visitor centre.

Graham Bartlett              Interactive Plan         Little Mill Visitor Centre    EDP HLF Article 26/1/15

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