One of Surrey’s forgotten pieces of history has been restored and the public will now be able to access it.
Chilworth Gunpowder Mills, which features more than 100 buildings, was closed a century ago and is classed a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
To mark the anniversary of its closure, the site has been restored for people to enjoy and to learn about this forgotten piece of history.
Improvements to the site include repairs to the 1880s steam-powered mill buildings and repairs to three bridges.
There has also been strengthening of earth and brickworks, rebuilding of the sluice, the clearance of overgrown vegetation and removal of graffiti. A new visitors’ information board will also be installed soon.
It was first awarded a Green Flag in 2017 in recognition of its status as a safe and welcoming place to visit with tremendous natural and historic interest.
What other work has been done?
Timbers on two tramway bridges have been treated, repaired and replaced, whilst a new stainless steel support frame has been added to the bridge which led to the 1880s steam-powered mills.
These bridges linked the Mills with Chilworth and Albury Stations and used a metre-wide tramway which made it one of the first of its kind in the UK when built in 1885.
The swing bridge, which allowed boats to enter the Mills down the Tillingbourne River, has also been repaired, treated and reinforced with new steelwork.
The remnants of the metal waterwheel can now be viewed by the public for the first time in decades having previously been covered by foliage, whilst brickwork next to the waterwheel has been repaired and strengthened.
The sluice has been rebuilt with stronger and more water-resistant engineering bricks to control the flow of water.
Biodegradable matting, to prevent erosion, has been laid around the blast mounds which protected buildings from the force of explosions. This is part of a vegetation management plan for the entire area, to maintain full public access.
Lead Councillor for the Environment, Arts and Tourism, councillor James Steel said: “It’s fantastic that more of our residents and visitors can now enjoy the areas around Chilworth Gunpowder Mills and discover its fascinating history.
“We must continue to protect and enhance our woodland and heritage sites for future generations.
“We acquired the site in the 1970s, and maintain it for access, ecological and recreational benefits as well as for its unique historic interest.
“The Mills have been awarded a Green Flag for the last three years, and we are proud our borough holds 10 Green Flags in total, the most in the South-East, in recognition of our beautifully-maintained parks and countryside.”