ARCHIVISTS told to get their collections out of an old flour mill near Sainsbury’s car park have begun their exit operation.

Bricks made in Stonehouse and Cotswold slate were among the first load of historic miscellanea volunteers started removing from the mill at the supermarket’s Dudbridge site on Wednesday.

Stroud News and Journal:

Photos: Simon Pizzey

"A lot of the historical records are from local people who have now passed away and didn’t want to see them go to the tip or couldn’t rely on their children to pass them on," said John Keenan, the collections' curator.

He and a group of volunteers have occupied the mill since 2000 as the Stroud Mills Heritage Centre, but in the summer Sainsbury’s handed them notice, setting January as the leaving date.

Stroud News and Journal:

The supermarket said it needs to carry out repairs to the ageing mill - known as Kimmins Mill - for safety reasons.

John had previously described the January deadline for removing the collections as "mission impossible" to the SNJ due to the number of volunteers at the centre's disposal and a lack of new space to move the collections to.

Stroud News and Journal:

The centre has lost many of those originally involved, like Eileen Halliday, who earned the moniker of the 'Bodica of Dudbridge' for fighting the demolition of the mill and her cottage when Sainsbury's first unveiled plans for its Stroud supermarket.

However, John told the SNJ on Wednesday the centre has now found space for at least one collection thanks to a local businessman.

Stroud News and Journal:

"It's good news, but we need carpenters and electricians to help with the temporary venue," he said.

"And we're still looking for 1000 square feet of other decant space somewhere local for the next few months or year where we can pass it on to relative organisations."

Stroud News and Journal:

He also said Sainsbury's has offered help removing the collections from the mill - the SNJ has contacted the supermarket for confirmation.

Much of the collection at Kimmins Mill is on local construction - for instance, the focus of the Wednesday operation was beginning to remove a library of bricks.

Stroud News and Journal:

The mill also contains records of local companies and some of their assets - conveyors from Stroud manufacturing firm Redlar are housed in the mill.

There are less specialist items in the mill too. Also removed on Wednesday was a war memorial to Holloway Brothers - a Stroud tailoring firm - in preparation for Remembrance Sunday.