THE Coultershaw Trust has been awarded a grant of £244,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to redevelop the heritage site at Coultershaw and improve the experience for visitors.
Coultershaw has been the site of several corn mills since as far back as 1239, and in 1782 a waterwheel-driven beam pump was installed alongside the mill to provide a supplementary water supply to Petworth.
Robin Wilson, chairman of the Coultershaw Trust, said: “Without the restorations the buildings would just fall down, and Coultershaw is a big part of Petworth’s history.”
The trust is working to restore the site and beam pump, and the project includes refurbishment of the Pump House, restoration of the Engine House as a learning space, restoration of the warehouse as a multi-use exhibition with toilet facilities, and a new footbridge over the river between the road and the sluices, and a boardwalk from the Engine House to the Navigation.
The Navigation was built in 1794 when Lord Egremont decided to join up the river Arun with Rother, running all the way to Midhurst.
However when Petworth Rail Station was built in 1859, trade started to slow for the Navigation, and it closed in 1888. The rail station closed in 1955 and is now a grade-listed bed and breakfast.
Stuart McLeod, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South East, said: “We at the Heritage Lottery Fund are delighted to be supporting this project that will see the history of the wonderful Coultershaw Heritage Site opened up for the public to learn from and enjoy.
“Alongside the restoration work to the Pump House and other heritage features, improved visitor facilities will make the site an enjoyable and informative place to spend time in”.
The total cost of the project is £322,917. The South Downs National Park Authority has contributed £20,000 from its Sustainable Development Fund. Chichester District Council has awarded the Trust a grant of £15,000.
Other contributions have been made by The Petworth Town Council, The Petworth Society and the Sussex Industrial Archaeology Society. The value of work to be done by volunteers is over £40,000.
Mr Wilson said the site would soon have facilities for visitors, societies and schools to learn all about the site before they embark on a tour around it, thanks to the grant.