- The market town of Bourne, Lincolnshire, England -
HOME OF THE BOURNE HERITAGE CENTRE
THE DOMESDAY BOOK of 1086, the great land survey ordered by William the Conqueror, records that six water mills existed in Bourne at that time out of an estimated 5,000 mills in the whole country. Three of them survived into the 20th century although only Baldock’s Mill still stands today at No. 21 South Street. The mill was built on the banks of the Bourne Eau in 1800 but stopped working about 1924. It is now a Grade II listed building because of its architectural and historic interest.
The restored property is owned by the Bourne United Charities but Bourne Civic Society has taken it over in recent years to preserve it for community use and the full potential of the building in this new role is slowly being realised. A Heritage Centre has already been established with a memorial room dedicated to the life and times of Raymond Mays, the motor racing pioneer who lived in the town. This room was opened on 29th August 1999 by the local M P Mr Quentin Davies, the member for Grantham and Stamford, and the collection includes the racing goggles worn by Raymond Mays, some of his trophies and an impressive display of old photographs reflecting his career.
There are many other features which are being added to almost weekly and they include a small photographic exhibition depicting the life and times of Charles Worth, the famous Paris milliner and founder of haute couture who was born in the town, a detailed survey of the water supplies that brought commercial success to Bourne a century ago, railway maps and memorabilia from the days when it was a rail junction, the old water cress beds, the town’s brewing industry and a history of the Bourne Eau.
Also on show are the stones from an Anglo-Saxon arch reputed to have been removed from Bourne Abbey during restoration work in the late 19th century. They were taken to the old vicarage, now the Cedars residential care home for the elderly, where they stood in the copse area adjoining the church hall until the vicarage was sold in the mid-1980s. The field adjoining the mill was also known as Baldock’s Paddock but this was acquired by Bourne United Charities in 1947 and the land used for the creation of a Garden of Remembrance, incorporating a war memorial with the names of the dead from two world wars in a spacious and dignified setting which we know today as the War Memorial Gardens.
In June 2001, the Heritage Centre was presented with a silver rose bowl by the town's Rotary Club for the most outstanding community achievement during the previous 12 months, an award that was handed over to the chairman of the Civic Society, Mrs Brenda Jones, at a special lunch.
The biggest restoration project since the Civic Society took over the mill in 1983 began in September 2003 when the two replica mill wheels were installed as a feature for visitors and the larger of these was later converted to produce green electricity to provide income for the upkeep and maintenance of the building. The work was carried out voluntarily by Jim Jones, a retired engineer and committee member of the Civic Society, assisted by Douglas Fownes, and is now a popular tourist attraction.
A history of Baldock's Mill and other water mills in the town
from past times
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