Walford Mill Crafts, Stone Lane, Wimborne, Dorset, BH21 1NL
01202 841400  info@walfordmillcrafts.co.uk

About Us

 

History of the Mill

The history of the mill at Walford is clouded in uncertainty.  In David Popham's book 'The History of Wimborne' there is a reference to a 'mille at Wimburn Town Centre end' which is believed to refer to Walford Mill in the 16th century.

It is believed that at this time the mill was powered by 2 waterwheels of the undershot type and about 2.4 metres in diameter. There is, however, no evidence left in the building of this period. At some time between 1880 and 1905 these wheels were replaced by 'British Empire Turbines' supplied by the Armfield Engineering Company of Fordingbridge. At about this time, the main mill building was extended to provide additional storage areas on the upper floors and a furnace/boiler room on the ground floor. This was intended to provide an alternative source of power to the mill wheels when river flows were low.

Walford Mill Old Photograph

The mill complex had a chequered history, particularly after it ceased operation as a working mill in 1966. From this date it was used successively as a coal yard, builders yard and a furniture showroom. The freehold interest in the site throughout this period, however, remained with Mr Bankes and on his death in 1982 the mill, together with the remainder of the estate which included Kingston Lacy House, Badbury Rings and Corfe Castle was bequeathed to the National Trust.

The District Council approached the National Trust with a view to acquiring 13 acres of the estate which had been designated within the local plan for the area for development. This land, together with the mill buildings and "island" which comprise the Walford Mill complex, were purchased by the Council in March 1983. The mill was then sympathetically renovated by the Council and the grounds landscaped to provide an attractive visitor amenity.

The Dorset Craft Guild, a registered educational charity formed in 1978, was invited to take on the lease of the mill at a peppercorn rent from 1986. Subsequently the mill has gained a reputation as a centre of excellence for contemporary British craft and design.

Since September 1995 the mill has been independent, managed by the Walford Mill Education Trust a registered company limited by guarantee and a registered charity (Reg. No. 1049540)