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14 January 2013 | Posted by Jon Burgess
The East of England Buildings Preservation Trust and English Heritage have come together to jointly fund a study to put Cambridgeshire's mills on the map to ensure that future generations can appreciate the important role mills have played in village life in the county down the centuries.

The £7,000 study is underway and will see experts work together with local interest groups, volunteers and villagers to undertake a comprehensive survey of Cambridgeshire's windmill and watermills, with a view to encouraging restoration or preservation of existing mills, where appropriate.

Identifying mills that are 'at risk' will be a major step towards saving these distinctive and often much-loved local buildings which give character to the county's towns and villages. Those mills which are most vulnerable will be considered for inclusion in the Heritage at Risk Register maintained and published by English Heritage. Although there are examples of mills across Cambridgeshire which have been restored by groups of volunteers – including the windmill at Wicken, near Ely – there are many more examples of mills considered 'at risk'.

Groups of villagers in Great Gransden and Great Chishill have been in discussions with Cambridgeshire County Council about taking on their villages' windmills which are considered 'at risk'. In considering restoration of their villages' mills, these groups have sought advice from experts including Simon Hudson of a business called Discovering Mills – who is undertaking the new study being funded by English Heritage and the East of England Buildings Preservation Trust.

Simon Hudson believes the future of Cambridgeshire's mills lies in the hands of local people. He says: "A century ago, there would have been a working windmill or watermill in every village and town in Cambridgeshire. "The study I am working on and the advice it seeks to give, aims to encourage local people to get involved in looking after the county's mills so that future generations can not only appreciate the role these structures have played in the county's heritage but also benefit from a leisure or, perhaps, a business amenity in their own village."

The results of the study will be will be published next spring (2013) and available on the East of England Building Preservation Trust's website Simon Hudson plans to host talk about the findings of his study later this year.