Crowdfunding saves Outlander mill for the nation

Preston mill (1)

 “We’ve been blown away by the support we’ve had since announcing the crowdfund"

Graham Martin's photo

29th March 2019 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

The National Trust for Scotland has successfully crowdfunded the restoration of one of Scotland’s most picturesque mills, where some of Outlander’s most memorable scenes were filmed. 

Launched on 8 March 2019, the crowdfund smashed its target of £12,000 on 26 March – less than three weeks after launching – through the support of the public and an American donor from Nantucket, Massachusetts who made a match funding contribution.

The raised funds will now be used to restore Preston Mill - one of the region’s last working grain mills having been used commercially until 1959, located on the banks of the River Tyne in East Linton – after its water wheel mechanism which allows it to turn broke over the winter months, causing it to jam in a fixed position.

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.”

With its curious Dutch-style conical roof, Preston Mill is an architectural oddity that beguiles visitors and transports them back in time.

In 2014, it hosted the cast and crew of the hit TV show Outlander as they filmed some of the first season’s most pivotal scenes and used the mill as a stand-in for Lallybroch, Jamie Fraser’s, played by Sam Heughan, family home.

Given the TV show’s international popularity, the fundraising campaign ran in partnership with the National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA, where it garnered global attention with an American donor from Nantucket, Massachusetts, making a substantial 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.

Work to repair the wheel will now begin in early spring with hopes of completion in April – in time for the property’s seasonal reopening.

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.