THE smell of freshly baked bread could soon be wafting from an old mill that is being brought back to life.

The North of England Civic Trust are restoring the historic mill at Warwick Bridge and bringing it back into use.

Karen Mason is the mill project coordinator with responsibility for the development, operation and management of the project.

Once Warwick Bridge Corn Mill is fully restored, Karen’s role will include milling, operating and maintaining the historic mill machinery.

The last miller left the site in 1989.

Karen said: “There’s been a lot going on in the last year or so. The entire outside of the building has been repointed and stones that were rotten have been replaced.

“A lot of work has been done that you can’t really see.

“The building had no working electricity, no plumbing or toilets. They have now been installed and are all brand new.

“Due to site constraints, the mill can’t be a tourist attraction. It’s primary function is to be a flour mill producing flour.”

The old barn, next to the mill, has been converted into a bakery which will eventually host bread and pizza making courses.

The bakery will hopefully be in operation early next year.

Karen said: “The last miller’s father was the last person to produce flour for human consumption.”

On site is an original Hopkinson oat roller, which rolled oats for horse feed but Karen says would be good for making flapjack. It is hoped this machine will be restored.

Upstairs, in the mill, is a drying area for grain. The heat rises up from a fire below to dry the grain, then it is swept down a wooden chute and bagged for storage. The sacks are kept on the top floor where it is nice and dry and the mill’s giant water wheel is used as a pulley to pull the bags up.

Several milling stones are present in the mill - some are from France.

Karen said: “They are quite unusual. They are French burrstones. Some can grind bran like white flour.

“Most millers could not afford to buy new mill stones. It was a popular surface for grinding animal feed.”

The last miller repaired one of the stones in 1962. He carved Robert loves Pat into the concrete.

When the mill opens as part of the heritage open days this weekend there will be a series of restoration boards and artefact displays to show the mill’s journey being brought back to life.

Richard Beattie, finance manager for Cultura Trust, said: “The work that has gone on has been tremendous.

“If you’d seen it before it was a ruin of a building. To see it coming alive again is wonderful.

“We’ve got some bakers lined up as well.

“The aim is to run it as a commercial enterprise with bread and pizza making courses.

“The steering group, made up of members of the local community, want to bring the mill back to life.”

Phil Healy, chairman of the steering group, added: “The work has been tremendous.

“The building was structurally sound but very unused. It is a tremendous asset for this community.

“We’re looking at restoring something that has been here since the 13th century.

“It is going to be tremendous if we can get it up and running. It will be a production site primarily.

“We are looking at how we can make the bread available locally.”

n The mill will be open tomorrow as part of Heritage Open Days for a family activity day from 10am to 4pm.

Guided tours will take place at 10.30am, 12pm, 1.30pm and 3pm. Also on September 17 and 18 at 11am, 2pm and 6pm. Places must be booked in advance.

To book, call 0333 00 034 007 or call 07557 399 239.