Repairing the Water Wheel at Preston Mill

Repairing the Water Wheel at Preston Mill

From The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA

Our beloved water wheel at Preston Mill has stopped working. Cared for by the National Trust Scotland, the Mill is known for its stunning architecture, picturesque setting and, of course, its appearance in Outlander!

The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA

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Update #2

about 1 month ago

We did it! Our crowdfunding campaign to fix the water wheel at #PrestonMill has reached its target! Many thanks to everyone who got involved --NTSUSA friends, #outlander fans, Sam Heughan, Diana Gabaldon, and match donor, Barbara Spitler.

Please stay tuned for updates on the progress of the repairs!

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One of Scotland's most picturesque mills needs your help! 

The eighteenth-century Preston Mill is one of the region's last working grain mills and represents an important piece of Scotland's industrial and rural heritage. Nestled within an idyllic location in the beautiful East Lothian region of Scotland, Preston Mill is an iconic and memorable sight for first time visitors and locals alike. The mill is an architectural oddity, with its curious Dutch-style conical roof, that beguiles visitors and transports them back in time. 

Speaking of being transported back in time ... 

Preston Mill is the backdrop for the fictional eighteenth-century Lallybroch where, in Season 1 of Outlander (STARZ's hit time-traveling romance series based on the books by Diana Gabaldon), Jamie Fraser was approached by the local miller to help repair a broken water wheel. Unafraid to get his hands dirty, Jamie jumps right in the mill pond to fix the wheel when suddenly the British redcoat soldiers arrive, determined to find him! (Fans will recall how this one plays out!)

Now life has imitated art and the famous waterwheel has become stuck. 

The wheel at the mill has broken over the winter and we’re teaming up with our colleagues at National Trust for Scotland on an international crowdfunder to get the wheel turning again! Together, we need to raise $15,000 to repair the wheel in time for the seasonal reopening in April. 

The water wheel sits upon an outside masonry pillar which is topped by a timber bearing and a metal bush. This 'bush' houses the end of the wheel's axle and holds it in place, allowing the wheel to turn. Over time, heat from the friction of the turning axle has distorted the bush which has caused the wheel to jam in a fixed position.

Over the winter, structural engineers and millwrights came in to examine the problem and develop a solution. They are experts in their fields and experienced in looking after heritage sites like Preston Mill and Barry Mill in Angus. To get the wheel turning again, they will need to prop the wheel and lift the axle free of the bushes. The masonry pillar will be consolidated, the timber bearing replaced, the bushes renewed, and joinery repairs will be undertaken to the paddles on the wheel. Finally, the wheel will be set back into place and leveled to turn once again.

Thanks to the generosity of an American donor, Barbara Beinecke Spitler, all donations to repair the mill will be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $5,000. 

Will you consider joining Barbara and make a gift to save Preston Mill? 

Act now while your donation can make double the impact! 

Trying to make a donation from the UK? Visit our partner page here: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/preston-mill

Outlander Connection

Preston Mill is one of the many National Trust for Scotland places that have been used as a location for the TV series, Outlander.

The images show Culross (left), Preston Mill (centre) and Falkland Palace (right). All were locations used in Outlander. 

The Mill featured twice in some of season one’s most pivotal scenes. You may recognize it as the mill at 'Lallybroch', the ancestral home of the main character, Jamie. The interior exhibition room acted as the courts ante-chamber where Claire and Geillis were held before their witchcraft trial, but perhaps more memorably was the scene in episode 12 when Jamie fixed the wheel for the local miller.

Outlander fans have been inspired to become passionate about Scottish heritage by many of the locations used in the filming of the show. 

Unfortunately, the water wheel has broken and interestingly, it has broken in a way which mirrors the show and we are in urgent need of your help to get it turning again. 

Preston Mill is a key part of our Scottish heritage and has been cared for by National Trust for Scotland since 1950. The Mill receives on average 3,000 visitors a year from all around the globe to experience its stunning architecture, picturesque setting, millpond and doocot, an abundance of nearby tranquil walks, and of course its new-found fame in the award winning series Outlander.

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The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA posted a new update:
about 1 month ago

Update #2

We did it! Our crowdfunding campaign to fix the water wheel at #PrestonMill has reached its target! Many thanks to everyone who got involved --NTSUSA friends, #outlander fans, Sam Heughan, Diana Gabaldon, and match donor, Barbara Spitler.

Please stay tuned for updates on the progress of the repairs!

Join the Conversation

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The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA posted a new update:
2 months ago

Update #1

You #outlander fans and #eastlothian enthusiasts are amazing - you've helped raise 75% of our #prestonmill crowdfunding target in just one weekend! A HUGE thank you to you all in the UK and the US!

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