Mill House’s heritage value recognised

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Mill House

A fourth Mid Canterbury structure has received a blue heritage plaque marking it as having significant heritage value.

The plaque was unveiled at Mill House at Ashford Craft Village last week by Ashburton mayor Donna Favel and building owner Richard Ashford.

It sits above the door of the main entrance and tells visitors that the building was designed by England Brothers and built in 1912 for the manager of the Canterbury Roller Flour Mill.

Mr Ashford said he was delighted when told by Historic Places Mid Canterbury that the building had been recognised as “a significant local historic building”.

His father Walter had bought the land near his adjacent factory in 1970 and Mill House had “been thrown in” as part of the deal.

It was in a state of disrepair at the time, but he had enjoyed his 21st birthday in the empty building.

“To ensure its survival we decided to relocate our craft shop to Mill House in 1981 and five years later we opened the Ashford Tea Shoppe there as well,” he said.

Other buildings were relocated to the site from 1992 to establish the Ashford Village.

Following the Christchurch earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 and the building’s 100th birthday, it was necessary to carry out strengthening and upgrade work.

He and his wife Elizabeth had been very pleased to have made that commitment to ensure the longevity of the building and to preserve it for others to enjoy for the next 100 years, Mr Ashford said.

The original roof and chimneys at Mill House have been replaced in recent months, with 22 tonnes of roofing tile taken away.

Historic Places Mid Canterbury deputy chair Nigel Gilkison said Mill House was the fourth location to receive the blue heritage plaque recognition.

The others were the rail overbridge, Pioneer Hall and Church of the Holy Name.

Mill House had started life as a private residence and had featured five bedrooms and two bedrooms for servants, he said.

It had also included a dark room, library and study and extensive native wood panelling, which remained today.

He said it had been built in the arts and craft style, which tied in well with its future use.

Mr Gilkison said the current owners had brought the building up “to a fine standard” and should be commended for that.