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"Restoration" restored!

[Tuesday 24 February]
Green lane

Griff Rhys Jones driven by Tony Routh

Green lane

Mike Thomson presents platter to Griff

Green lane

Griff with newly presented platter

Comedian Griff Rhys Jones returned to Gayle Mill in the Yorkshire Dales recently to film an update programme for the BBC "Restoration" series which ran between 2003 and 2006.

On a bright and clear day, still with snow on the ground, Griff discovered what had been happening to the Mill since he last saw it during filming in 2004, when it came third in the national final. He was shown round by Tony Routh, one of the directors of Gayle Mill Trust and the last person to be apprenticed at the Mill in the 1960s.

Familiar to millions from such recent TV programmes as "Mountain" and "Three Men In More Than One Boat", Griff was in fine form, enthusing passionately about everything he saw – from the complete reconstruction of the mill race to the restoration of all the Victorian engineering and woodworking machinery back to full working order. He was particularly fascinated by how the Mill has stuck to its principles of sustainability and continues to use the natural resources not only of water to run the machinery and create electricity and but also of waste wood to fuel the central heating biomass boiler.

Gayle Mill volunteers and Friends turned out in force to welcome the entertainer and in the afternoon he was presented with an inscribed wooden platter, turned from spalted beech by Gayle Mill Trust (GMT) chairman William Lambert. Griff was so impressed by the quality of workmanship that he could not help buying several other products made at the Mill, including a garden trug, bird feeders and a sycamore chopping board.

Mill Manager Paul Bisson remarked: "Much of the success of the project is down to our volunteers who give so freely of their time and skills. We were very pleased that some of the filming included shots of them working, finishing off a variety of the wooden products we sell, and we hope to attract more people to volunteer to be part of the Mill's future."

GMT Vice-Chairman Mike Thomson said: "We’re proud that, with the help of volunteers and the local community, Gayle Mill is one of the few "Restoration" projects to have been completed – or almost completed. We are currently getting the crane and rack sawbench back to working order and we hope the programme will help bring visitors in to see this final phase of the Mill’s reconstruction."

Part of the filming included interviews with Ian Bruce from the North of England Civic Trust, and David Butterworth, Chief Executive of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, who commented: "The restoration of Gayle Mill is one of the great success stories in the Yorkshire Dales. It combines the cultural and historical identity of the Dales with a forward-looking approach to conservation and sustainability in this magnificent landscape. We hope that, as a result of this update programme, many people will be inspired to come to the Dales for the first time or to renew their acquaintance with it once more."

Other buildings to feature in the programme include the Victoria Baths in Manchester, winner of series 1, the old Grammar School and Saracen’s Head in Birmingham, and Lissan House in Northern Ireland, as well as a round-up of what has happened to many of the other projects.

The filming was done by Endemol, the production company that made the original "Restoration" series for the BBC. It is not yet known when the programme will be broadcast, but it is thought that it might be in the next few months.

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