Agenda item

Curator's Report

Minutes:

Members were advised that the Curator, Erica Munro, left the Hampshire Cultural Trust for a new position at the end of March. Cerian Trevan had now been appointed. She started her new role with the Hampshire Cultural Trust on 20 June 2016 and previously worked at Stonehenge.

 

The absence of a VSA, who left in January, had meant that the site had not been cleaned as regularly or as thoroughly as usual. The mill had been covered by casual staff who had acted as Duty Manager. The interim area Curator had worked with a volunteer and the miller to clean the interior of the mill, clear some of the pond, clear the paths of weeds leading up to the windmill and strim the edges beside the windmill. A new VSA started at the windmill on 20 May. Although it appeared that the number of volunteers had dwindled to one regular person and a garden volunteer in recent months, the interim area curator had contacted all previous volunteers and they were still keen to help. A new volunteer was also in the process of being added to the team.

 

The new outbuilding comprising the visitors’ toilets and volunteer’s room had now been completed providing much improved facilities. The improvements to the inside of the windmill cap; the installation of a lightning conductor on the exterior of the mill and signage for disabled car parking were completed at the end of April. Funding of £10,000 had recently been secured via the TESCO Bags of Help scheme. It was anticipated that the entrance fence would be replaced, perimeter fences would be repaired re-using good pieces of the entrance fence, two large sleepers with a kick board would define the edges of the pond and allow wheelchair access and two external lights on the Chineham Barn would be installed for evening events.

 

One of the aims for this year was to set the sails to grind wheat and make flour. For several weeks the staff at the mill had been watching the weather forecast and had a couple of abortive attempts when the forecast wind didn’t arrive. The sails on the mill had finally been turned to make flour for the first time in 5 years. The miller had sourced a supplier for grain and costings were being established. It was hoped that visitor figures would start to pick up now the mill had started to grind grain. Special events and out of hours visits had been planned which would help to increase numbers.

 

From July – September the Windmill would be opening on Saturdays as well as Sundays and it was hoped that the additional day would increase visitor numbers, especially if the sails of the mill were rotating. The plan was then to close the mill in the quiet months of November, December and January, when it was hard to attract visitors, except for specific events. A number of events had been planned for the summer months including; special Sundays, Minibeasts at the Mill, Ways with Wood and the Great Bursledon Bake Off.

 

The Hampshire Cultural Trust’s Emergency Conservation Unit came to the rescue on the Bank Holiday Monday to carryout repairs to the windmill following the storm on Easter Sunday. A bolt within the braking mechanism bent allowing some turning of the brake mechanism.  The bolt was replaced and minor repairs made to the woodwork.  This may have been the result of an inherent weakness that has developed over time in the bolt or the change in wind direction during the storm.  There was no evidence of lasting damage to the mill. The conservators returned to the mill to repair the automaton model of the mill and measure up in preparation for renewing the windmill governor belt, which was installed in June.

 

There had been several enquiries from schools, but no bookings for February to April. Schools seem to want to be able to buy flour and make bread as the follow-up to the visit so until the mill was producing flour again, schools were favouring other mill visits such as Winchester City Mill. However, there were bookings in place for the summer term and it was hoped the usual harvest season bookings would be in for September and October. The CELO attended the Hampshire Primary History Teachers’ Conference and promoted the service to 68 teachers. The CELO, Janet Wildman retired from the Hampshire Cultural Trust at the end of April. Elements of her post have been taken on by Rebecca Parrant, Cultural Engagement Manager for Schools.

 

A new edition of What’s On covering the period May to August featuring Bursledon Windmill was delivered at the beginning of April. 12,500 copies were printed and it were now in circulation. The e-newsletter Museums Monthly, featuring exhibitions and events from Bursledon, now had over 2500 subscribers and was promoting features such as Special Sundays, Might Mill Event and the Easter Activities on Social Media and the website. Postcodes were routinely collected from visitors which were profiled annually using Mosaic software and provided ongoing information on which groups of people were using the services and how individual visitor profiles compared to the local area.  This fed into the service and marketing planning processes.

 

It was AGREED that the report be noted.

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