WHITCHURCH Silk Mill has launched a crowd funding campaign to help ”keep the wheel turning” on the historic site - and has already reached halfway to its goal.

The waterwheel which is at the heart of the Georgian Mill is in need of restoration, and the team is hoping to raise £6,000 to preserve it.

They said: “The wheel needs urgent repair to keep it turning, and to keep the authentic heart of the mill’s history alive.

“We need to again replace the ‘starts’ which attach the planks to the iron frame, and the ‘floats’ which make up the paddles.

“We also have to replace the bronze bearing which supports the end of the axle of the wheel and allows it to turn freely.

“The waterwheel provides a vital insight into water power and the industrial heritage of Whitchurch and the River Test. It powers the historic machines we hold and use to weave silk fabric. It brings to life the advancements of engineering since the Georgian era, which hold a unique role in Britain’s engineering history. That is now at risk.  

“Please help us keep the wheel turning and donate whatever you can, or help to share our fundraising campaign. We are offering a number of rewards in return for your very kind support.”

Contributors will be rewarded for their generosity, with thank you gifts given to pledgers.

For £75, you can sponsor one of 30 “Backboards”, which attach to the cast iron waterwheel.

Donate £100 and you can sponsor one of 30 “Floats” which are sometimes called paddles. These push through the water and drive the wheel.

And a £100 donation will secure you a Waterwheel Tour, an extremely rare opportunity to get up close to the waterwheel and to have a personal tour for a maximum of four people of the works in progress and the Mill.

The Mill is the last example in the country of a silk mill that is still producing silk using historic machines and training highly skilled weavers to use these pieces of living history.

It is Britain’s oldest working silk mill and each year is visited by thousands of visitors who discover its role in the nation’s industrial silk evolution.

For details, visit: http://ow.ly/IUPw50Gakk4