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Our policies



General policies

Mission statement and aims

"To preserve and protect records of our milling heritage and to make them freely available to the public."

To do this we aim to:

  • seek and acquire historical and contemporary records of traditional mills and milling;
  • store, care for and keep together collections placed in our care;
  • encourage research into our milling heritage;
  • make as much of our material as possible available for public inspection;
  • provide facilities for research and education at the Archive and on the Internet;
  • offer advice and support to collectors, promoting future deposits;
  • build close links with existing archives holding mill material, with a view to sharing information and possibly resources;
  • actively encourage an interest in mills by developing and promoting education and information programmes based on local communities and on the need for lifelong learning.

Geographical area


Subject area

"Traditional mills" include mills, similar structures and industrial processes that usually were powered by wind, water, muscle or steam. Milling includes millwrighting and the place of the mill in social and economic as well as technological and architectural history.

Chronological period

All periods, but the main focus will be the modern period from the 18th to the 21st centuries inclusive.

Genre or media of records held

Appropriate storage and access facilities will be provided to allow the Mills Archive to obtain, keep and permit inspection of:

  • photographs, slides and negatives;
  • documents (including field notes, drawings, plans etc.);
  • published material (including books and reports);
  • computerised databases;
  • digital images and other relevant files;
  • audio and video recordings;
  • mill-related ephemera of relevance to social history;
  • small artefacts of milling relevance.

Wherever possible material will be scanned and appropriate computer facilities provided to permit detailed examination of records without disturbing the originals. Protocols will be introduced to ensure that machine-readable information can continue to be accessed as technology advances.

Records in other formats, or media requiring special equipment for their consultation, will not be acquired unless the Mills Archive Trust has, or plans soon to obtain, the necessary equipment, or is able to arrange facilities for appropriate public access elsewhere under proper invigilation.

Cooperation and demarcation with other repositories whose collection policy overlaps

The Mills Archive Trust does not seek to compete for material with other mill archives. In acquiring records every effort will be made to avoid conflict and duplication with the collecting policies of such repositories, although there may be some overlap with more general repositories. In all cases we shall work with other archives and donors to ensure material is placed in its most appropriate home.

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The collection process

The Mills Archive Trust will not attempt to acquire material outside the terms of this statement of collecting policy. We shall fully document the process of acquisition and maintain an appropriate accessions record.

Methods of acquisition

Donations and purchases are preferred to deposits on loan, although where a collection is threatened appropriate arrangements may be made. No attempt will be made to secure the acquisition or removal of any records held in another record repository, except with the consent of the owner of the records and in consultation with the archivist in charge and governing body of that repository.

Conditions associated with accessions

It is a condition of acceptance that documents shall be available for public access either immediately or at the expiry of a specified period.

Acquisition of records will depend on the appropriateness of the Mills Archive as a suitable place for their custody and consultation and will respect the principles of archival integrity.

No records will be acquired or disposed of in contravention of the terms of any current legislation and in particular the Public Records Acts, the Manorial and Tithe Documents Rules and the Parochial Registers and Records Measure.

Before accepting records, the Mills Archive Trust must be satisfied that the donor has proper authority or title to transfer them and in the event of acquisition by gift or loan the Governing Body and the donor or owner of the records shall fully acquaint each other in writing of any terms or conditions attaching to the transfer.

A computerised accessions register will be kept, in which essential information on the nature and circumstances of each acquisition will be recorded. This will include the date and terms of transfer, the name and address of the donor, brief details of the records and any reference number necessary to allow the records themselves and any related documentation to be traced.

Selection and deaccessioning policy

The Mills Archive Trust believes that there should be a presumption against disposal by sale of documents in its ownership except when they are duplicates of published material. In accordance with the wishes of depositors, as expressed at the time of transfer, we shall evaluate and remove from the archive those documents deemed not to be worthy of permanent preservation.

In all other cases there is a presumption against the disposal, by any means, of records accepted into the record repository unless:

  • it is found that they belong more properly with records in another repository, in which case they may be transferred there with the consent of the owner and both governing bodies;
  • the Mills Archive becomes unable, either temporarily or permanently, to provide proper care for them, in which case they will be transferred to another appropriate repository with similar overall objectives on such terms as may then be agreed in writing with the owner and both governing bodies;
  • the owner requests their return.

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Public access

The Mills Archive allows free public inspection of its collections and facilitates their use in research and learning. The Archive actively encourages people to visit its premises in Reading, UK, for research and private study.

The Mills Archive will provide:

  • online catalogues and other finding aids for users to trace material in its collections from their homes and other remote locations, including scanned images;
  • a supervised reading room and library in Reading suitable for inspecting original archive material on the premises.

Users may visit the reading room and library by prior appointment during the advertised opening times.

Access to catalogued material

  • Access to all catalogued material will be clearly described, with relevant finding aids available, in the online catalogue and associated databases;
  • notice of new acquisitions and restrictions on access or use will be made public at the earliest opportunity;
  • archive collections may be viewed for research and study by prior appointment;
  • archive material must be requested in advance of the proposed visit to allow retrieval from the store and acclimatisation.

Access to uncatalogued material

  • In common with many other archives, the Mills Archive will only allow access to uncatalogued material if there is no threat to the security or preservation of the records;
  • a search of uncatalogued material will be carried out by the Archivist or Information Manager on request and on payment of a search fee, with the proviso that we cannot guarantee that relevant material will be found;
  • uncatalogued material may only be consulted if specific items can be identified and produced for inspection in a protective format.

Access restrictions

General restrictions on access to the Archive's collections, such as any statutory or time-limited closure of the records, will be explained in the catalogue and by email or post at the time of booking an appointment. The Archive occupies an historic building dating from 1688, and access for people with mobility problems is limited. Please read our separate statement on access.

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We try to identify the owners of copyright in images wherever possible and will immediately take down infringing copies (from both this web site and our catalogue) if they are brought to our notice.

See also our policy regarding the copying of images in our collections.

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Date of the policy statement

This policy statement is based on that originally approved by the Trustees in January 2002 and will be reviewed as necessary and at least every three years by the Governing Body to take account of any changed circumstances.

Date of this issue of the policy statement: July 2012.

Date for next formal review: July 2015.

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