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Villagers’ £230,000 appeal to help save historic weir and wetlands

This is an archived press release

Monday 15 September 2008

15 September 2008

Villagers’ £230,000 appeal to help save historic weir and wetlands

Villagers are in a race against time to raise £230,000 by March to help save a unique piece of the Peak District’s industrial heritage.

With strong support from the Peak District National Park Authority, the Calver Weir Restoration Project (CWRP) was earmarked £1.25m by the Heritage Lottery Fund last Spring.

But the group still has to raise £230,000 toward the total restoration costs of £1.65m by next March, or the grant could be in jeopardy. This is on top of pledges of volunteer labour and non-cash contributions worth £170,000 already achieved.

The villagers are determined to save the weir, five miles from Bakewell on the River Derwent, both for its heritage and wildlife value. Built in 1778, it was important in the Industrial Revolution, powering the 18th century cotton factory at Calver Mill (now luxury apartments). It is a Grade 2 listed structure, on the national park’s Buildings at Risk register and would collapse without urgent action.

In addition, the weir supports wetland habitats extremely rare in the Peak District, harbouring scarce species such as harvest mice, water voles, wild orchids, yellow loosestrife and wood clubrush.

The CWRP was set up as a registered charity by villagers in 2004, when they raised £40,000 for emergency repairs, successfully completed in September that year.

CWRP’s chairman, Mike Hennessy, said: “We are appealing to local businesses, organisations and individuals who want to help save Calver Weir, which is a prime example of our industrial history. It would be a loss to future generations and destroy wetlands that enrich the area’s biodiversity if our funding efforts were unsuccessful.

“Clearly, attempting to raise £230,000 in such a short space of time in the current economic climate remains difficult, but without this match funding, the Heritage Lottery Grant will be in jeopardy. We are extremely grateful for the support we’ve have already received but very much hope that more supporters will come forward.”

Mr Hennessy’s work was recently recognised in the Nationwide Community and Heritage Regional Awards for the East Midlands.

The Peak District National Park Authority has helped the group with funding applications, grants, advice and practical help.

The National Park’s cultural heritage manager, Ken Smith, explained: “We support community initiatives and this one is extremely worthwhile. They are trying to save a structure that is part of the nation’s heritage, and this is an area that is very important to the national park’s biodiversity. Its wetlands are part of our Vision for Wildlife Project and the community has done much valuable work with our ecologists.”

CWRP also proposes footpath improvements (it is on the Derwent Valley Heritage Way), information panels, handrails and seats. The prospect of using the weir for a hydro-power generator is being evaluated to fund future maintenance.

The group’s website, www.calverweir.org.uk , will shortly be updated with the aid of a Heritage Lottery development grant. It has an option agreement to purchase the weir for a notional £1 once all its funding is in place.

For more details, or to make a donation, contact Mike Hennessy on 01433 630410, email mhbarnco@btinternet.com, Colin Pounds on 01433 639114, or email poundshartwell@btinternet.com or the Calver Weir Restoration Project at 22 Calver Mill, Calver, Hope Valley, S32 3YW.

This is an archived press release

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