Reading emPOWERed: a Lottery funded heritage project

Article date
25 May 2023
Primary interest
Nature and Environment

The Mills Archive Trust, a Reading-based charity, has just received a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £198,751 for an innovative heritage project, Reading emPOWERed. Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project focuses on preserving and sharing the history of two renewable energy sources—wind and water—by drawing on the Trust’s existing records of milling heritage and encouraging the creation of new archival material and contributions.

Involving local people and expertise nationwide, the project will explore the significance of wind and water power in the local area and the potential of renewables to address the needs of existing and future generations. The project will also benefit from being shaped by the public, who will have a say in which parts of the archive should be explored and uncovered in more detail, and what related activities are currently taking place that should be recorded for the future.

Collaborating with other groups, including schools, entrepreneurs, academics, arts and cultural groups, people local to Reading will have the opportunity to participate in a lively range of activities over the next two years.

The Mills Archive Trust is a registered charity and accredited archive that protects, preserves and promotes the history of milling for people to learn from and enjoy. Their coverage includes the two main historical power sources for milling—wind and water—which are attracting more attention in recent years in response to climate change and cost of living issues. The Trust’s own history is deeply connected to Reading; it was founded in 2002 by local people and has operated from central Reading ever since, with a global reach.

If you would like to be updated about the project and opportunities to get involved, you can email us at

Commenting on the award, Trust Director Elizabeth Bartram said: “This project, made possible by the support of National Lottery players, has come at the right time. We are all feeling the pinch with fuel costs rising and more of us are aware of the reality of climate change and its implications. We are committed to showing how the past connects with the present and future, through highlighting the role of wind and water power, its advocates over the years, and the efforts of generations past to deal with issues that we all continue to face today. The town of Reading and its surrounding area has its own important part in this story, which we will share with local people and raise Reading’s profile on the national and international stage”.