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Succession breeds success: one year on

At the time of writing this article we are one year into our National Lottery Heritage Fund-supported project, Succession Breeds Success, and I find myself reflecting on what’s been achieved so far. Here are my top 3 highlights from the project so far.

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You might recall our announcement in February 2018 that we had received a grant of £95,300 from the Heritage Fund, to strengthen the Mills Archive in the areas of finance, management and governance. The purpose is to improve the charity’s resilience so that we can continue to look after the nation’s milling heritage and continue to make the collections available for many years to come.

My top 3 highlights so far:

1. In June we welcomed Lucy to the team.

Part of the grant has funded the creation of a new role to help with fundraising and development. Lucy was new to the mill world but has taken to it like a duck to water, and has exciting plans afoot for our Friends and supporters! I won’t steal her thunder though, so keep your eyes peeled for future announcements. Lucy has also just launched a new part of our website called “Gems of the Archive” – I invite you to dip into some of our treasure trove of unusual items and let us know what you think!

2. We’ve visited mills old and new.

As part of Lucy’s induction, and to help us build stronger links with the milling community, we’ve been privileged to visit several mills. From Upminster Windmill during a period of impressive restoration (see striking photograph courtesy of the Friends of Upminster Windmill, below); to Impington Windmill on a beautiful summer’s day; to an historic, yet modern and innovative milling business: G R Wright & Sons. The latter represents how milling has developed in recent years, and the visit forms part of our approach to build links with the modern milling industry.

3. We’ve gone digital.

We already have a website and online catalogue, but a review and revamp is being facilitated by the Heritage Fund. Training in Google Analytics (below) is already shedding light on how people are using our digital resources, and we have started talking to users more and finding out more about their experiences of using our site and how we might improve our offering. These activities will help to ensure that we provide the information that people need, in a way that is easy to use and so that we can reach the audiences with whom we need to engage.

There are lots of good things ahead and I look forward to sharing more highlights with you as we enter the second half of the project.