Two centuries of industrial history alongside the river Maun will be brought to life with a new heritage trail linking Sutton in Ashfield to Mansfield.
A £870,000 National Lottery grant will help Ashfield District Council, Nottinghamshire County Council and partners in their wide-ranging project showcasing the history of the River Maun and the many watermills that operated alongside it.
The three-year project, now given the go-ahead by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will see the existing visitor centre at the reservoir upgraded to provide a heritage hub with a community outreach ranger employed to encourage activities along the riverside trail, targeting people with disabilities and long term health conditions.
Improved health and wellbeing also features as part of the project, promoting outdoor activities, including walking and cycling along the new heritage trail.
As well as this, crucial de-silting work will be carried out to remove the build up of sedimentation that has threatened wildlife and reduced water-based sporting activities at Kings Mill Reservoir.
Councillor Jason Zadrozny, Leader of Ashfield District Council, said: “We are delighted to receive this funding as we hope the project will be a turning point in Ashfield’s visitor economy, as well as benefitting wildlife and activity participation.
“The heritage trails will provide educative tours between Sutton Lawn and Kings Mill Reservoir, giving insight on the areas milling history.
“The consultation period saw incredible support for the project and by working with community groups from across the district and beyond, we know that our residents can’t wait to see the improvements take shape.
Archaeology research will allow visitors to discover more about the importance of the River Maun to the development of both Mansfield and Ashfield. In addition to new waymarks and information boards along the heritage trail, restoration and repair work will be carried out to the Grade II listed King’s Mill viaduct – the earliest multi-span railway bridge in England.
Jonathan Platt, Head of HLF East Midlands, said: “This project creates a riverside trail through the area’s industrial history while, at the same time, protecting wildlife and encouraging local people not only to learn more about the area, but to improve their health and wellbeing at the same time. All this has been made possible by the generosity of National Lottery players.”
Councillor Tracey Taylor, Vice-Chairman of the Children and Young People’s Committee, at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “This second stage of funding is great news to further develop the project centred around King’s Mill Reservoir to preserve and promote for future generations.
“It will enhance the visitor experience and protect wildlife at King’s Mill Reservoir.
“Our Mill Adventure Base, the urban adventure centre situated at the Reservoir, is already popular with school pupils and young people’s groups and this funding will help us to attract even more visitors to explore what the area has to offer.”
Cllr Andrew Tristram, Portfolio Holder for Environment at Mansfield District Council said: “We warmly welcome this project which will provide new leisure opportunities at King’s Mill Reservoir. We hope it will encourage more families to get out and enjoy the wonderful countryside which is on their doorstep.
“Both Mansfield and Ashfield have a wealth of industrial heritage sites along the River Maun and this trail will help to shine a light on how the natural world shaped our local history, as well as funding significant environmental improvements which will boost wildlife.”