Thompson Collection

Update June 2018 :

Plans for the first phase of the Thompson Collection Exhibition are well under way , there will be a new trail dedicated to younger visitors along with family friendly exhibits.

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The heritage of Windmills and Millwrighting will be explored, with a particular focus on Alford, and the connections with our industrial heritage.

Following  the centenary events on 11th November 2018 the WW1 Exhibition will begin to draw to a close, the Memorial Wall will remain in place throughout 2019. The new exhibition will be ready for installation to take place during the Winter closure.

Alford & District Civic Trust Ltd have announced their delight at being gifted the entire contents of a millwright’s workshop. A milling specialist has described the contents as being ‘of exceptional significance nationally’.

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The current site of the workshop is being developed, leaving the rare collection at risk, and Alford & District Civic Trust Ltd have painstakingly removed the artefacts to their own site to afford protection, thanks to a loyal team of volunteers.


The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) have provided initial funds for the collection’s removal, labelling/cataloguing, storage and assessment as well as funding for new displays and interpretation, adding to the museum’s collection of industrial heritage. The grant funding also includes provision for professional fees which will take the project to outline planning stage in preparation for the second phase.

Alford Manor museum has Visit England certification and their frequently updated exhibitions have won them numerous national awards. This new collection will add another layer of interest for new and returning visitors.

The second phase of the Heritage Lottery funded project will focus on a new exhibition space to re-create the exact footprint of the original workshop. The workshop and its contents belonged to R Thompson and Son, now retired, and the entire collection is of high significance locally, being an example of a small scale local business with 19th century origins. However, its contribution to the mill preservation movement in Britain throughout the 20th century elevates the collection to that of ‘exceptional significance nationally’. Thompson’s were one of the last operational millwrighting firms descended from a long line of master millwrights. The Davies family continued Thompson’s work of repairing and restoring our traditional wind- and water-powered mills until Tom Davies’ retirement in late 2012

The Thompson collection project will allow future generations to understand and appreciate the important part that milling played in rural life.

The Chairman of the Trust, Grant Allan, along with his team, are delighted to have secured the HLF funding to save this rare collection of industrial heritage and look forward to re-housing the content on their own site.