Last-ditch bid launched to preserve historic mill for community use
Liam Randall, local democracy reporter
A campaign group has launched a last-ditch bid to preserve a historic corn mill for community use.
The King’s Mill in Wrexham, which dates back to the 18th century, is set to go under the hammer next week as owners Wrexham Council say they no longer have a use for it.
More than 1,600 people have signed a petition urging the local authority to reconsider after it was criticised for making the decision to sell the former visitor centre in private.
Gifted to the council by former Erddig estate owner Philip Yorke, the property is subject to a covenant which states it must only be used as a public amenity for culture and heritage purposes.
Members of the Melin y Brenin Community Group were previously knocked back after offering £10,000 to buy the mill in order to turn it into a community hub as officials said the amount was too low.
A last minute appeal has now been made to raise enough funds for the group to buy the building at next Wednesday’s (March 24, 2021) auction in Manchester.
In a statement posted on the GoFundMe website, the group’s chair Phil Phillips said: “We cannot stand idly by and see another important part of our heritage sold off and taken away from the community.
“Our attempts to open up discussion with the council have failed – secret meetings decided on this sale and councillors and local people alike only found out about it by chance.
“As a last resort, therefore, we are turning to the people of Wrexham and beyond to save this important part of our heritage for future generations.
“If the council won’t talk to us, we aim to speak the only language they understand – money.
“With your help, we can raise enough money to buy the mill for the community and for future use to benefit everyone in the area.”
The mill was last used as a visitor centre during the 1990s but has stood empty since 2012.
Concerns were raised at a meeting last month that the move to get rid of it was not referred to the authority’s ruling executive board to consider.
But council leader Mark Pritchard backed the decision by a senior officer to auction it off, with a minimum opening bid of £155,000 being invited.
He told a full council meeting: “I think it’s important that the people of Wrexham understand that we have an obligation and a duty to get the best price and value for land and buildings.
“This group offered the council £10,000, and it’s been valued at £155,000 to go to auction.”
He said the covenants affecting the site would remain in place once it is sold.
A total of £360 has been raised towards the fundraiser so far, with the final amount set to be added to the £10,000 already set aside by the community group to make a bid.
Mr Phillips added: “We have developed a plan that integrates the site’s environment and its status as a culture and heritage centre into a centre that provides a social hub and a gateway to the Clywedog valley trail.
“King’s Mill is now an integral part of the wider Clywedog trail along with many local and national organisations.”
The fundraising page can be found at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/KingsMill