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Contract Opportunity: Evaluation Consultant, Whitchurch Silk Mill

Wednesday 6th September 2017

Preserving the Fabric - Brief for an evaluation consultant


Whitchurch Silk Mill Trust seeks to appoint a consultant to develop a monitoring and evaluation framework for the delivery phase of the Whitchurch Silk Mill's Preserving the Fabric Heritage Lottery Fund project.

Background to the project

Whitchurch Silk Mill is the only example in the UK of a historic working silk mill open to the public throughout the year, where visitors can watch skilled workers operating the machinery and then buy something in the shop made from silk woven on site. Our vision is for the Silk Mill to be a thriving living museum that weaves silk and delights all who visit. We are committed to maintaining the Silk Mill as a major heritage site in North Hampshire, increasing visitor numbers, engaging more fully with the local community and increasing weaving capacity.

Sustainability is key to the long term viability of Whitchurch Silk Mill. Preserving the Fabric is a project that will regenerate the Silk Mill, ensuring that:

• the Victorian machinery remains in use so we can continue to weave silk

• heritage weaving skills are passed on and shared with future generations

• the industrial and natural heritage is properly maintained.

The Trust's vision statement is: "A thriving living museum which weaves silk and delights all who visit."

The aim of Preserving the Fabric is to:

• preserve the outstanding heritage of a working English silk mill including the Grade II* Listed Georgian building, which lies within a Conservation Area in the small town of Whitchurch, the historic machinery and the grounds which are on the River Test, a chalk stream and Site of Special Scientific Interest

• create a working environment that is efficient and safe for both the production of silk and for visitors. People will be trained to ensure that silk can continue to be made for external clients and Silk Mill products, while visitors will be able to see the end-to-end process of traditional silk manufacture close-up and to interact with people working on production

• create interpretation that allows visitors of all backgrounds to learn about and engage with stories of silk production, water power, the Mill's history, people of the Mill, the River Test and other relevant themes

• provide an innovative community engagement programme that includes lifelong learning activities, volunteering opportunities, craft skills training, changing exhibitions and special events

• improve accessibility to all areas of the Mill and the standard of facilities for visitors and the Silk Mill team including reception area, toilets, signage, car parking, office space and storage, ensuring that groups can be accommodated as easily as individual visitors

• ensure business sustainability through improvements to commercial operations including café and retail (which need to be accessible to non-visitors) and creation of a flexible meeting / exhibition / learning space

• maximise the potential of the Mill's prominent position and grounds by creating attractive gardens with areas for outdoor community events and natural spaces that will improve biodiversity

• create a demonstration workshop and store to carry out engineering, conservation, general maintenance and preparation for displays

• improve environmental sustainability through the use of energy efficient processes and materials for construction, repairs and services

• allow scope for future developments such as running at least one loom from the waterwheel, changing elements of interpretation to keep it updated and exploring the potential for micro-generation.

The scope of the work

The scope of the work is to review the existing evaluation methods used by the Silk Mill and to devise a framework that will measure the outputs and outcomes of our HLF project (interpretation and activities). The framework will detail:

• what data will be collected

• how achievement will be monitored and evaluated

• how the results will be reported

• how the results will be used to inform future programming and forward planning.

Staff and volunteers will carry out the actual evaluation of the project during the delivery phase and write the evaluation report. However, the consultant will undertake certain specialist parts of the evaluation work, such as focus group consultation. The scope of the project is to establish a simple framework that we will use and this will include the production of evaluation materials and tools and training of staff and volunteers to use it.

For more information and how to apply