Cash raised to restore historic East Lothian mill made famous in Outlander
The historic Preston Mill has a curious Dutch-style conical roof and is an architectural oddity that attracts thousands of tourists each year.
Made famous by its use as Lallybroch in Outlander, Preston Mill lets people step back in time to when it was used commercially until 1959 with tours now showcasing the gruelling life of the miller’s work.
Its most famous feature, the water wheel, has been stuck since September and is no longer able to turn – just like in the TV drama.
The conservation charity began a crowdfunder to pay for repair works and has now smashed its £12,000 target in less than three weeks thanks to generous donations from the public and an American donor from Nantucket, Massachusetts who made a match funding contribution.
Barbara Beinecke Spitler matched all donations made towards the repair of the mill, dollar-for-dollar, until $5,000 (£3,901.50) was reached.
As a fan of Gabaldon’s Outlander book series and a philanthropist of historic preservation, Barbara saw the donation as the perfect marriage of her two interests.
Repair work will now begin in early spring with hopes of completion in April – in time for the property’s seasonal reopening.
Stuart Maxwell, General Manager for Ayrshire & Arran and Edinburgh & East at The National Trust for Scotland, said: “We’ve been blown away by the support we’ve had since announcing the crowdfund.
“With heat from the friction of the turning axle, which allows the wheel to spin, distorting the metal components that hold the wheel in place over time, we knew we urgently needed the help of the public to be able to restore it to its former glory.
“It’s been inspiring to see such a diverse range of people come together to support the appeal, in Scotland and even overseas, and collectively demonstrate their love for Scotland by ensuring that this spectacular piece of Scottish heritage is preserved. We’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who donated, and we can’t wait to welcome you all to the mill when it reopens at the end of April 2019.”
In 2014, Preston Mill hosted the cast and crew of the hit drama series Outlander as they filmed some of the first season’s most pivotal scenes and used the mill as a stand-in for the family home of Jamie Fraser – played by Sam Heughan.
To get the wheel turning again, engineers will restore the masonry pillar – which the wheel sits upon – and replace the timber bearing and metal bushes – which houses the wheel’s axle and holds it in place, allowing the wheel to turn.