The twenty-first AGM of the Welsh Mills Society was held at Swansea Museum on 22nd October 2005.
The Chairman, Gerallt Nash, welcomed some 50 members
and friends to the meeting.
In his Chairman's Report, he recalled the Society's past twenty-one years:
It was 21 years ago, on 20 October 1984, that the first meeting of what was then known as the Welsh Mills Group was held in Newtown Powys.
More than 60 people attended that meeting, a cross section of mill enthusiasts, mill owners and academics from all parts of Wales and from all walks of life. We had aims and aspirations; some would say dreams. Within the first year membership passed 100, the group produced its first Journal, Melin, and set about actively publicising the working corn and woollen mills of Wales with a free publicity leaflet. To maintain a link with members, a quarterly Newsletter was circulated.
We have published a journal every year thanks to the efforts of Tony Parkinson, the first editor, and his successor Brian Malaws. Melin gives molinologists an opportunity to share the fruits of their researches, into mills and milling in Wales, with others. Our debt to both editors is considerable and Melin is now well established and respected as a journal of quality and interest.
The Newsletter has appeared quarterly; again our thanks are due to Ian Gough, Jon Kissock, Peter & Helen Muckle, and now, Chris and Rosie Plummer - like the Journal, producing the Newsletter means a lot of work. Thanks also to Theo Brueton for setting up our Website.
The WMS is fortunate to have a hard-working and committed committee. The officers deserve particular praise Len Roberts, our first Treasurer, and Jane Roberts (first Membership Secretary). Then David Rees, Treasurer and Membership Secretary until his retirement last year, and now Mike Hall. Likewise Hilary, the Society's Secretary for 15 years, to whom our debt is considerable for all the hard work she has put in on top of a very heavy workload at the National Monuments Recor.
We have had some very successful meetings over the years, with excellent talks and presentations, and have visited well over 100 mills of all sorts, sizes, shapes and descriptions. Our aim is to hold two meetings a year, and we have succeeded except in 2001, when foot and mouth disease made only one possible. We have met 42 times at 35 different locations, returning to the same place only 7 times in 21 years.
We have seen several mills saved from dereliction, and some brought back to full working order. Whilst there are still question marks over some once-working mills such as Felin Geri, Felin Isaf Glan Conwy and Pentrefoelas, it is encouraging that people are still actively working on the restoration of others. The latest is probably the corn mill at Little Mill, near Usk in Monmouthshire which we visited in spring 2003, and which the owner is now re-converting from a house-conversion back into a working mill.
Finally, I must not forget the most important part of any Society, namely its members. The WMS is very fortunate in having an active, and loyal membership, and one that supports its meetings and activities. Without your support we would not be where we are today. Indeed, the fact that we are still here, and maintaining our membership numbers shows that we are fulfilling a need. There is still a lot to do, and we have a long way to go in persuading local authorities, planners and the public in general of the important role that mills played in the past, and of the need to maintain, preserve and support those few that remain for the future.
Therefore, in conclusion, my end of year report would read:
Llongyfarchiadau am y 21 mlynedd cyntaf, a phob lwc am y 21 mlynedd nesaf!
Congratulations on what has been achieved during the first 21 years, and keep it up for the next 21!
Hilary Malaws in her Secretary's Report noted that the Chairman himself had done more than anyone else for the Society. He was its first Secretary and had only relinquished this post when he was elected Chairman. She thanked him wholeheartedly on behalf of the members and committee for 21 years of continual service.
Interest in the Society and in many different aspects of Welsh mills and milling had continued to grow and a fairly continuous stream of enquiries was received during the year. It was hoped that the proposed trip to Ireland would take place in 2006.
The Treasurer, Mike Hall, presented the accounts. Improved insurance cover had been negotiated and the membership remained stable.
Brian Malaws the Journal Editor reported that Melin 21 was in preparation and would be a bumper celebration issue with six articles; two on aspects of mills and milling in North Wales, two on Mid Wales and two on South Wales. Members were reminded of the importance of sending articles and reports to him.
Elections The Secretary, Treasurer and Editor were re-elected unanimously. Two new members of the committee were elected, Roger Sellick and Chris Plummer (both formerly co-opted). The timing of the AGM was discussed, and it was agreed the Committee should consider this further.
Following the AGM, Dr Eurwyn Wiliam, President of the Welsh Mills Society, gave an entertaining address to mark the first twenty-one years of the Society. [This has been published in Melin 21]
Bryan Taylor gave a fascinating introduction to Mills in Swansea and the Gower and Bernice Taylor brought members up to date with Melin Mynach, Gorseinon, visited by the Society in 1994.
After a superb lunch members visited the operational mill and other fascinating attractions at the Gower Heritage Centre, Parkmill, thanks to Ron Church, and the ruined remains of a former cornmill at Penrice, returning to Swansea Museum for tea. Jane Roberts provided a wonderful birthday cake and Tjerk Oosterhuis brought some Delft plaques depicting windmills to auction for Society funds so the meeting ended very pleasantly!
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