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History of Walford Mill

Open artist studio at Walford Mill Crafts
Ariel shot of Walford Mill

 Walford Mill is believed to have been built around 1760 – 1770. During its life, the Mill has undergone many changes in both use and design, however, has always played a key role in servicing the local community within Wimborne Minster, something that lives on today in supporting the creative industry. 

In its early life, along with corn grinding, ‘tucking’ was added to the Mill’s capabilities. A process of cleaning cloth that had previously been done by beating or walking on the surface of the material. Wimborne was heavily involved in the wool trade and in moving the ‘tucking’ process to the Mill, efficiency was improved and output increased. 2 water mills were in place driving pounding hammers and evidence of where the water mills sat can be seen throughout the oldest part of the building, where resident makers reside today. Glass flooring is also in place to view the water source, once used to power the processes undertaken in the Mill. More information on Wimborne and the Mill can be found at​

 At some time between 1880 and 1905 the Mill was extended and a chimney (which can be seen in the Exhibition Room) was added to serve a boiler and steam engine. The water wheels were proving somewhat challenging to use during drier periods where the water levels were low, and the Steam engine and turbines were added as an additional source of energy. The ‘British Empire Turbines' were supplied by the Armfield Engineering Company of Fordingbridge. The extension to the building (upwards) provided additional storage areas on the upper floors.

 The Mill complex has had a long and varied history and was still producing animal feeds for the local farmers in its final operating years until it ceased operation as a working mill around 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 the late 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" made up 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)

  The Mill building was designated a listed Grade II building in February 1983, and to this day has served as a ‘home of craft’ in heart of the historic town of Wimborne Minster. 

History Trail - click here 

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