The Mills Section has become increasingly concerned about the decline in millwrighting skills in the UK and, in particular, millwright training. In 2019, millwrighting was placed on the Heritage Crafts Association's 'HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts'.
In common with other areas of the heritage sector, many of the long-established traditional family firms engaged in millwrighting have gone out of business and have been replaced by smaller firms, typically sole-traders. These firms do not have the resources to train apprentices and as a result there are very few new entrants into millwrighting.
To help provide training for future millwrights and so ensure the future of the milling heritage sector, the Mills Section has begun work to address this shortfall. In the first instance we have established a one-year training opportunity, through the William Morris Craft Fellowship, for an experienced craftsperson to learn the additional skills needed to enable them to repair mills. In the longer term, it is planned to establish a more comprehensive millwright training programme for those wishing to enter the sector from a more junior starting point.
Millwright Training Opportunity 2020
In a joint initiative with the SPAB, the Mills Section invited applications for one place on the SPAB’s Craft Fellowship scheme in 2020 from a craftsman or craftswoman in any relevant trade who has an interest in mills, and in using and extending their skills to repair and maintain them. The scheme follows the existing format of the Craft Fellowship scheme, comprising learning and placements across the country. It is not a complete millwright training programme or apprenticeship, but a way for an experienced craftsperson to acquire specific additional skills to enable them to work on mills. Training will extend over a period of nine months and is offered with a bursary to help cover travel and other costs.
PLEASE NOTE: Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's Fellowship programme has been suspended and will resume in 2021 with the Fellows chosen for 2020.
To find out more about the scheme, visit the Fellowship page.