It was a double celebration yesterday, as two AIM members – Cromford Mills in Derbyshire and Underfall Boatyard in Bristol – both launched AIM Biffa Award funded projects. This funding started back in 2011 when AIM entered into a 3 year funding partnership with Biffa Award via their National Heritage Landmarks Partnership Scheme and has provided £1.5m investment for independent museums and industrial heritage sites across the UK. The investment has helped to transform derelict buildings and sites into inspirational resources, enabling the public to better understand the powerful tide of change brought about by our collective industrial past through the creation of a network of strategic projects that tell the stories of people, processes, industrial development and change.
At Cromford Mills in Derbyshire, the AIM Biffa Award, along with other major funding, has helped to provide public access to and the interpretation of Sir Richard Arkwright’s First Mill; this is the site that Sir Richard Arkwright chose to construct his very first water powered cotton spinning mill in 1771 and it is recognised as the birthplace of the factory system. The AIM Biffa Award funding was for the access and the audio visual experience which will enhance the new World Heritage Site Gateway. The wonders of CGI technology have been used at Cromford Mills to add to the ‘wow’ factor of the site and visitors can now walk through Arkwright’s first mill and meet the man himself! Sarah McLeod, Cromford Mills chief executive, said: “We are working towards the Cromford Mills brand becoming a ‘jewel in the crown’ of tourism in the region. We are already an established destination but the coming months will begin to see the potential of this amazing site truly be realised.”
CGI technology has brought Sir Richard Arkwright back to life at Cromford Mills
Last night, Underfall Boatyard in Bristol held an opening event to celebrate the launch of their new visitor centre which officially opens to the public this Easter. Housed in the Grade 2* listed Power House, the visitor centre retells the story of Victorian engineering, which still protects the city from flooding today and also shines a light on the famous engineers linked with Underfall Yard: William Jessop and Isambard Kingdom Brunel – as well as the largely forgotten John Ward Girdlestone who built the slipway and most of the beautifully-designed buildings. At the yard, The Power House and the machinery within it are the beating heart of Bristol’s harbour – without it, the swing-bridges, lockgates, cranes and sluices which made the harbour work would have been powerless and the city port would have ground to a halt.
The machinery was in use up until just five years ago, but already the years of inaction were starting to take their toll on the 1907 pumps. The AIM Biffa Award of £120,000 (match-funded by other sources including the Underfall Yard Trust itself), enabled the Underfall Yard Trust to carry out a full conservation and repair project to not only the three pumps, but also the header tank, external accumulator, settling chamber and associated pipeworks – with some additions to ensure plant met all modern health and safety requirements, informed by a comprehensive survey and investigation.
Nicola Dyer, the Project Director at Underfall Yard Trust said: “The AIM Biffa Award supported us in funding something really specific that has much wider impact for us as a visitor attraction and place of discovery for specialists alike. AIM understood the critical nature of the Power House machinery and as a result, we are able to build on this with evolving interpretation and activities – safe in the knowledge that this irreplaceable plant is in good condition and well-understood. We’re really grateful not only for the funding, but also the way in which AIM and Biffa Award were so flexible with us: the project was delayed for various reasons and we were always met with a practical, helpful attitude from AIM which is invaluable when juggling the vagaries of working with historic buildings and contents!”
Nicola Dyer, Project Director, at Underfall Boatyard’s new visitor centre launch last night
Other AIM members that have Biffa Award funded project launches this year include: Chatham Historic Dockyard, Brunel Museum, Hampshire Preservation Trust (Burlesdon Brickworks), ss Great Britain, Canal & River Trust (National Waterways Museum), Woodhorn Museum, United Kingdom Historic Buildings Preservation Trust (Middleport Pottery) and the British Postal Museum and Archive. A set of promotional guidelines for all AIM Biffa Award funded projects is available for download using the link below. If you require any help or support promoting your AIM Biffa Award, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
AIM would like to thank: Biffa Award and Catherine Boggild and Rachel Maidment; Cromford Mills, Underfall Boatyard, The Pilgrim Trust and Neil Anderson Media