Emilie Montgomery Gardner, known to the milling world as E. M. Gardner, remains an elusive and enigmatic character shrouded in mystery. Miss Gardner worked as a Civil Servant and was awarded the OBE on the completion of her years of service. However, it was Miss Gardner’s profound contribution that she made to our understanding of the history of watermills that came to define her. Through her relentless determination, Miss Gardner succeeded in the face of much resistance in persuading the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) of the crucial need for and importance of the preservation of our country’s watermills for the ultimate good of posterity. The Wind and Watermill Section of the SPAB was Miss Gardner’s lasting legacy along with the eponymous E. M. Gardner Collection held at the Mills Archive. The Collection acts as a profound testament to the fine virtues and qualities of E. M. Gardner: her determination, diligence and unwavering devotion to collect and preserve as much information as possible on the watermills of the British Isles.
Over the course of the last two years, a sweeping reorganisation of the Collection has been undertaken at the Archive. As a result of this reorganisation, the E. M. Gardner collection has been divided into eight different Series.