Supporting our local community: our historic relationship with the Heron Corn Mill

Whilst the Beetham mill has a long history operating the in the area dating back as far as 1788, there is another mill situated on the River Bela steeped in even more history. Across the weir from Pelta is the historical visitor attraction Heron Corn Mill, which was initially built in 1749 and active until it was closed in 1958 when it sadly fell into disrepair.

In 1974, whilst operating under Henry Cooke, the Beetham mill was contemplating how they could safeguard the water supply to the paper mill. The resulting solution was for them to purchase the Heron Corn Mill which at the time had two-thirds of the water rights. This decision was made with two goals in mind: One to secure the water rights, and another to preserve the history of the Heron Corn Mill.

Robert Dickinson, who worked in Customer Services at the time of the purchase commented:
Even if the mill was bought for the water rights there was a keen interest already then to preserve the mill and a trust fund was set up for that purpose. Until 2004 the Beetham Mill also paid for the wages at this working museum.

Playing a key role in the Heron Corn Mill journey, Robert has worked in a number of different roles in aid of the old mill, including volunteer work. Today, he maintains a position as one of the directors of the Corn Mill Trust.

Despite becoming a popular historical attraction for local schools and societies, the cost of maintaining the Heron Corn Mill became too expensive to continue. This was worsened still by the requirement of extensive structural work including a new roof. And although charity organisations like the Heritage Lottery Fund could offer some respite, these grants couldn’t cover wages and other costs required for the continued running of the attraction.

A solution to these financial challenges was presented by a newly appointed manager in 2004, to install a water turbine to generate electricity to power the mill and a surplus to be sold to local businesses. With this plan in place, the corn mill was able to finance this £500,000 investment with a combination of grants and a loan from the Charity Bank.

Today the corn mill continues to generate energy capable of sustaining the mill itself in a wet year, selling surplus electricity to us. Enabling us to power a small part of our medical paper production process with sustainable energy. Following the significant 2004 investment, a number of additional projects have been undertaken in order to reduce the environmental impact of the corn mill. This includes the construction of a fish ladder and the installation of a propeller-type hydro turbine.

With a vision to act ethically towards not just our customers and employees, but also our local communities and the environment, we strive to develop mutually beneficial relationships with our local communities. This is reflected in our Vision and Values at Pelta Medical Papers, and is also the reason for our decision to bring our warehouse needs closer to home.