Sarah Beeny follows a passionate group of locals from Talgarth near Brecon as they spend a year trying to renovate a derelict mill and rescue their community.
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The British countryside...
With green valleys, wild mountains, rolling farmlands and forests
the landscape is as diverse as it is beautiful.
Many dream of escaping to the simple country life,
but for those who live in rural Britain,
it's a different story.
Traditional industries are in decline
and across the land, local shops, pubs and farms -
the cornerstone of country life - are closing at an alarming rate.
It just seems that the heartbeat of our green and pleasant land
is fast disappearing.
This was a really vibrant shopping street
and now we've got one pub left and that's it.
You need to keep these places safe and secure for our children to come and enjoy.
The one thing the countryside has going for it is the people who call it home.
But what if locals were able to take matters into their own hands?
What if groups of volunteers were given a load of money
to turn their dreams into realities and put the spirit back into their communities?
We're only going to succeed if we involve as many people from the community as possible.
Good service. We want good service.
With just 12 months to pull it off, putting their villages
back on the map is not going to be easy...
-I just know we're going to have battles every step of the way!
I have no building experience whatsoever.
What a shambles.
..but the results might just be spectacular.
It's the biggest chance we've ever had to do something amazing.
It's a big ask, but it could work.
Will the spirit and passion of a few locals
be enough to transform a crumbling mill
into a profitable tourist attraction...
We always knew that with a bunch of amateurs managing a project
like this, there were going to be problems.
..or will time get the better of them?
Not until Monday.
That is miles too high.
The things are just slipping and slipping and slipping.
It's exactly what I thought it would be like.
With a bakery business also dependant on the mill's success,
the whole thing could just crumble...
There's a possibility of it being a complete white elephant
and a complete, total failure.
You haven't got any idea of what you're selling.
You're not really sure how the business is going to work.
..or at best be a half-baked idea from the start.
Are people prepared to come to Nowheresville, Nowhere
to experience that?
The Brecon Beacons attract millions of visitors a year.
Nestled in its foothills is Talgarth, a sleepy market town.
Once known as
"the jewel of the black mountains",
Talgarth has lost its sparkle and lives in the shadow
of its more popular neighbours, Hay-on-Wye and Brecon.
This street was once bustling with thriving businesses -
a clothes shop, a barber's and a greengrocers were all open for trade.
There's no doubt it's a beautiful town
and there are many successful shops here,
but if the tourists continue to just drive through
then Talgarth will become another ghost town.
Thankfully, there is a lifeline.
In the centre of Talgarth is an 18th-Century mill.
It was a busy hub, grinding corn from all the local farms,
but the mill ground to a halt in 1946.
It now lies derelict.
A group of locals think the mill could be spectacular.
Former tightrope walker, now engineer, John Whitehead
moved to Talgarth because he's inspired by the impact a restored mill could have.
So, this is it.
There'll be people sat around, enjoying beautiful food, coffee
and down at the end of the yard, in this little door,
there'll be this magical machinery.
When you come to visit,
there'll be this beautiful engine of a waterwheel,
turning right outside this window and just there,
the millstones will be turning and producing flour.
Part of the plan is to use the mill flour for a cafe and bakery.
One person keen to get involved is Fiona Gray.
She's a local lawyer, but the bakery might prompt a career change.
I'd like to be the Talgarth baker, or part of the Talgarth bakers.
Fiona moved to Talgarth in 2006 with her husband, Bruce.
It's a really nice town, but it does need a bit of a boost.
Bruce is also a lawyer and an ex- military officer.
He believes Talgarth can fight back.
If we've got an opportunity to improve things here you've got to grab that.
Thank you for all coming...
He's chairman of a committee full of passionate locals, like John,
all committed to saving the town.
The timescale is very tight for this.
Bruce knows restoring the mill will need the right balance of expertise, volunteers and planning.
'There is a whole team of people who want the best for this town.'
It was once known as "the jewel of the black mountains" and it will be again.
MUSIC: "The Great Escape" film theme
To pull it off will cost a huge amount of money.
Operation Mill has started.
The group have applied for a grant from The Big Lottery Fund,
designed to regenerate rural communities.
Hello! It is, yeah.
Today, John will find out if they got lucky.
We're all kind of hanging on the edge of our whatevers.
Ex-circus performer John knows how to milk the tension.
It's not just John who is celebrating. The community have come out in force!
I can't believe Talgarth's actually won something for once.
It's a tremendous idea.
We've got the money. Let's make the most of it, I'd say.
Shall we have a quick stunt and do a one-arm balance off the top of the roof.
-Go on, then.
-He's doing it.
The show is officially on the road.
You'll be able to smell bread from the wood-fired bakery from here.
Wow! "Where's that coming from? Let's go get a coffee."
One of the terms of the grant
means the project must employ a full-time business manager.
The task of co-ordinating this lively bunch is Talgarth's newest resident, Anne Hillyer,
who's moved her family hundreds of miles from Norwich.
One of the toughest challenges that faces us is getting
everything done on time. We've got quite a tight timescale.
We're determined we're going to be open by Easter next year.
I'm really enthusiastic. I'm full of energy.
I just want to get on with the job.
The plan is to overhaul the river bank into riverside walks
and get the 18th-Century watermill up and running and producing flour.
The project is so vast they secure a further Big Lottery Fund grant
to realise the project's full potential.
For the mill's long-term survival they'll need more than just cash generated by ticket sales,
so sitting next to it will be a bakery and a 50-seater cafe, with floor to ceiling glass windows.
With over 50 years of neglect to combat and only a year to pull it off, it's hugely ambitious.
-How are you?
-Good to see you.
-This is it. Come through.
'Bruce, Anne and fellow volunteer William can't wait to get started.'
-This is it?
-This is it. Come on in.
Look at this. It's just unreal.
This is the space where it's all happening.
The wheel bit, here in front of you.
It's an engineering feat in itself. It's amazing that you're trying to take this on.
-It's a big project.
This is much bigger than starting a cafe, a mill and a bakery.
It's about the community heritage.
-There are farmers still alive who remember dropping their corn off for grinding.
This is going to be our cafe space.
We're desperate to have visitors and we want to give them an experience they will enjoy.
This would have been a hub of the village life.
-It is the heart of the village and the aim of the project is to start it beating again.
What a great project. I'm just a bit jealous that I'm not involved in it.
Converting the interior of the mill is only part of the picture.
The mill's original wheel was badly damaged over time and they hope to restore it.
They will also need to dig out the overgrown pit
for the wheel to sit in.
Once again, engineer John draws on his circus roots and becomes ringmaster to willing volunteers,
who've agreed to juggle buckets for the day.
You've co-ordinated this amazing effort?
-Yeah, I think we have. It looks pretty well co-ordinated.
Today we've got this great team of people from Talgarth
and visitors from other places.
It's almost effortless and we're getting all this soil out.
I think this is really impressive.
-Archaic chain of energy.
And what made you decide to get involved with this project?
I'm not sure, what a question.
A moment of madness?
Yeah. This is something about the opportunity in Talgarth with this beautiful landscape
that was waiting for something a little bit extra to happen.
This ticks lots of boxes, because it's about the community
and most importantly, it's about regenerating the heart of this village,
which is a very exciting thing to be doing.
A lot of the work will be carried out by volunteers from the community,
all chipping in their time and muscle for free.
Thank you, that's a really great day's work. Well done!
People are coming forward to get their hands dirty for Operation Mill.
Fiona, along with three other local mums - Wendy, Steph and Kate -
have agreed to take on the challenge of creating the mill bakery.
'It's a challenge and I'm looking for a different direction.'
Lawyers are not the best loved in the world!
And it's just something completely different.
I've got more experience of baking than any of the others.
I wouldn't consider myself a professional baker yet.
There's quite a way to go, in terms of expertise,
but I'm sure that can be achieved.
I haven't run a business before.
I've always wanted to, so it's worth a punt,
because if it comes off it'll be fantastic.
Their first priority is polishing their skills.
Hello, hi, I'm Sarah. Nice to meet you.
-Hello, come in and see what we're doing.
-What are you making here?
-We're making Fougasse,
which is traditionally made in the shape of a ladder or a tree.
We thought, "Why don't we do one in a round mill wheel shape?"
This one is Caerphilly, leek and walnut!
That is absolutely delicious.
It's got to be something with ingredients that we can get locally,
because that's another important thing for us
and something that says about Wales.
I'm going to be chief tester, I've decided.
-That's very nice.
To find out if Talgarth has an appetite for their millwheel Fougasse,
the group are road testing it at the town's annual festival.
Fiona's been up since the crack of dawn, making her contribution.
Her first critic is husband, Bruce.
Ha-ha! What's happened there?
They do look a bit drunk. It's probably because the yeast's still been working.
For anyone wanting Artisan bread in Talgarth, they have to travel five miles to a neighbouring town.
I think it'll be interesting to see what the public think of it
and whether they're willing to pay for it.
-See you later.
As amateur bakers, they want to be sure there's a market, before they commit to running the bakery.
-They've gone wonky-donkey.
-Oh, they're lovely.
-They're like '40s jaunty hats.
-Also they look very hand made.
With over 1,600 people in the community, there's potentially a huge customer base.
ANNOUNCER: Welcome to the 2010 festival.
Whilst juggling kids and jobs, the ladies have been baking samples to do some tasty market research.
This is a sour dough rye bread.
-The bread is brilliant!
-Just one left.
I'm not too keen on that one.
-It's not everyone's cup of tea.
-What do you think of that one?
-The rye loaf, that was the nicest.
We would cycle over the hill and buy some. Regularly.
We've taken a lot of responses today.
-428 people tasted the bread.
That's more than I thought they would be. That's really good.
And only around 60 disliked some of it.
With a majority of people saying they'd buy their bread,
the baking team have every reason to feel encouraged.
It couldn't have gone any better, really.
Things like this does help us to see why we're doing it
and what it could lead to.
It's a real excitement and buzz and that's what we're looking to create.
It really is a peep into the future today.
The future for the mill isn't far away.
they plan to open in May for National Mills weekend in just eight months' time.
In Talgarth's heyday, wheat from all the local farms was ground at the mill.
Their plan to once again grind flour using the power of water
is a massive undertaking.
The masterplan for getting it to work and landscaping the exterior is John's.
The first job is shifting over 100 tonnes of soil.
I really love digging, you know.
I can do a lot of design work,
but when you're digging, you get ideas of how to work with the space.
It is enjoyable, for sure.
Not fun! I hate digging.
Part of John's team is Saul Nicholas, a stone mason
who's has recently moved to Talgarth to lend a hand.
He's agreed to take a huge pay cut to do the work
and will earn just £100 a week.
Saul's reasons for joining the project are inspired
as much by the past as they are about the future.
What got me into restoration in the first place
was finding the thumbprints of a dead mason inside his wall.
That sort of thing brings it home to you
how long these buildings are going to be around for.
I've left my thumbprints all over the place,
you know, especially in the mortar.
We all have. We've touched a building, so our mark's in it.
I just thought it was an amazing project -
something I won't have much of a chance to do again.
There aren't too many waterwheels in existence.
I really hope Talgarth, as a town, loves it
and takes it into themselves as part of their town.
It's a beguiling little place.
It's in a terrific part of the country.
Just waiting for that wheel to go around is amazing.
When it does go round it'll be an event-and-a-half, I'm sure.
Staying with Saul is another crucial member of the build team.
Gordon goes everywhere with me.
He looks after me on sites.
I know he's not health and safety certified,
but I can't leave him home.
Saul, John and Gordon have a vital job, getting water to the wheel.
The water needed to drive the wheel must be diverted from the river
into a 90-metre-long channel, known as a leet.
To grind flour, the mill needs a steady stream of water,
so the role of the leet is absolutely critical.
Another critical part of the mill, its internal wheel, has arrived.
Operation Mill is in full swing.
Once again, the community troops have come out to lend a hand.
The wheel team - Tim Martin and local blacksmith, Dave Perks -
will be responsible for installing the internal wheel.
I feel privileged that I'm getting the opportunity to work on the mill.
The fact that it's local means a lot to me.
A bit more.
'If you're a craftsman you get a feeling that the old men that built this mill'
are looking over your shoulder and nodding grudging approval
if you've done a good job.
Oh, he's not made a bad job of that. They never give you too much praise.
Given its size, it isn't something you can carry in through the front door.
It doesn't get better than this!
This is what it's all about.
I'm just worried about it slipping.
Hang onto it there.
That's really a magical moment to get this up here.
It's great. It's starting to see something.
Once in place, this half-tonne cast-iron wheel sits inside the mill
and will eventually drive the gears that turn the mill stones.
With the National Mills weekend deadline only seven months away,
the team are one step closer to producing flour for their bakery.
I don't think I want to change my day job now.
There's nothing like seeing a wheel in place.
Even better to see it turning.
Well done, everyone. Very good job, well done.
-Is it the right way round?
-It is the right way round?!
The baking team were always committed to running the mill bakery as a business.
Since then they've also been offered an opportunity to run the mill's cafe.
At the end of the day someone, or two people, are going to be in that cafe.
-That's the difficulty, I've never run a cafe before.
You do have to have faith people will come.
It became apparent to us that it made more sense for the baking group
to be involved in the cafe as well.
Wendy's run a cafe before.
I frequent quite a lot, so I'm hoping that we can feed into lots of experience and things like that
and take it forward.
I hope I'm not going to be a complete idiot when it comes to running a cafe.
Whilst it makes perfect sense for the bakery group to take over the cafe,
the reality is that they've now two business to set up and run.
Most of them have jobs, they're all mums and they have very little catering experience between them.
Whilst I'd really love them to pull it off,
with so much on their plates, I wonder if they've bitten off more than they can chew.
The same could be said of the build project.
As autumn turns to winter it's more crucial than ever
that each aspect of the mill's transformation remains on schedule.
It's five months till opening.
The wheel and the leat need to be connected
and the wheel turning by the middle of December.
It will then take three months to build
and fine-tune the inner workings of the machinery
so that everything can be ready for opening.
But, there's a problem.
The big freeze came earlier than expected -
the worst possible weather conditions
when you're hoping to lay tonnes of concrete.
I mean, there's a layer of ice underneath the mud.
But, there's a plan, albeit a strange one.
We are about to try and set fire to the earth
because the world's gone very cold.
The concrete plants have shut down, but this morning
we've got word that they might start to mix concrete again.
We're kind of getting ready.
Personally, I think it's completely nuts,
but Sal's passion and determination to get this concrete pad down
has made me go, "What the hell, let's do it."
There's a good reason why John's so fired up about the leat.
Fairly soon, this will be a beautiful, smooth,
concrete leat with water flowing down it.
Obviously, this whole thing isn't going to work without water going on there.
Unless we do get to that point the wheel isn't going to turn
and the old project is going to get delayed,
and we really don't want that to happen.
Everything hinges on the delivery of the concrete.
Fingers go kind of numb quite quickly, don't they?
Hiya, it's John, down at Talgarth.
We're wondering how you're doing this morning.
Minus nine, same here, really, if not a little bit colder.
We're a bit higher up.
Not until Monday. Right.
OK, all right.
Yeah, and to you.
I take it that's a no, then?
That's a no. they're not doing it, they were minus nine.
It's going to get finished, it's definitely going to get finished,
because it's too important not to.
Five days and a few degrees later...
We rang up a concrete plant this morning
and they're actually producing concrete for the first time
in about a week or so, which is brilliant news.
Finally, Saul gets to light his fires
to make sure the ground is absolutely frost-free.
Yeah, there's certainly a lot of heat in the ground.
The walls are smoking, the ground's steaming.
There's no sign of any ice up there now, happy with it.
Here we go!
We need to get concrete down before it goes off,
and there's a lot of it.
And we have to get it all level, too, but they start charging us.
We've got half an hour to unload, then we're paying serious money after that.
It helps keep you warm.
One more here, and then we're on to that next section.
To be here now and it falling out, we're going to make it,
we're going to get it all down.
The leat will be ready to flow.
When things come right, it just makes it worthwhile.
All that struggle was worth it now.
-Right, cup-of-tea time.
-Cup of tea.
Four lorries, over 60 tons of concrete, and hundreds of cups of tea later,
Talgarth's water wheel is one step closer to turning.
Now we need a spirit level.
Can we borrowed the long spirit level, please, Daniel?
With the leat complete,
The wheel team can crack on with its construction.
Chairman Bruce has swapped his court wig for a hard hat.
The project team have missed their deadline of getting
the wheel turning before Christmas.
Bruce is now worried about the fast-approaching opening
in just four months' time.
It's January 13th now.
The initial time for the wheel to turn was December 14th.
We then hoped it would be turning January 15th,
so that will give you a true sense of things just slipping and slipping and slipping.
The idea of the project not working and not coming together,
as chair of the group, you do feel responsibility.
When you live in Wales, there's the old cliche about people being known
the things they're associated with, 'Dai the Bread', 'Bill the Whatever'.
And I just have this fear that
I'm going to be known as 'Bruce the Mill' because it all goes horribly wrong at some point.
It looks like Bruce's reputation may be intact.
It's the beginning of February and just three feet of earth
stands between the river and its journey to the wheel.
Least favourite job is digging.
And this job's all digging.
-Want a go, Ben?
This is the first time water has gone down here to the mill for 50 years.
But before that, there's always been mills on this river,
so this river, it wants to come this way.
It wants to work, so we're going to put it to work.
Gravity will assist, and that's it, really.
Just got to dig this out, it's done.
Today's the first day the work of the leat team
and the wheel team will come together.
There's not many people living who will have seen the wheel running
It's taken fighting our way through snow
and ice and having to set fires on the ground just so we can
get the ice melted and put the base down.
You look at it and you think, maybe, "it's not very much, is it?"
But it's been a big journey, and in terms of the leat,
this is pretty well the last few moments.
That journey's kind of done.
Here comes the water!
And the other end of the site, an apprehensive wheel team are waiting.
A certain amount of trepidation, actually,
because, we sort of feel it's our wheel,
and we don't want to let something else have influence over it.
Because it's a she now, and we're very protected for her.
-This is it.
-Are you ready? Yeah, let's open it.
Any leaks, any leaks?
Let's go down there, see what's happening.
Well, I can hear it coming.
The water's coming down now.
I'm thinking, "Did I do all those 156 bolts?"
Which, um, I think I did.
We've got a wheel going now.
CHEERING AND CLAPPING
We've got the water feature.
I just want to tell everybody about it.
I didn't think we'd be here today.
So, yeah, there's still work to be done, but it's a great relief.
The big day has finally come for Saul,
and it's everything he hoped it would be.
I am relieved, I'm very, very relieved.
Everything works, nothing leaks, nothing washed away. Brilliant.
I must admit, I don't get emotional very often,
but it's been a long time coming.
It's been a long slog.
To see that happening, that's amazing,
it's exactly what I thought it would be like.
I'm going to be excited on my own.
The long-term survival of the mill absolutely hinges
on a successful cafe and bakery.
Being complete novices at running a cafe,
the baking team have called for expert help.
Bill Sewell has been in the cafe business for 20 years.
The cliched things about cafes is more cafes go bust
than any other business, so it's not an easy business to make a living in.
-Would you like everything?
..and today Bill's got some work experience staff on duty.
Now, that's a pepper!
I think I'm cutting him to about the right size.
Yes! Thank you very much.
They need to think that it starts today.
They need to be thinking of it in that way,
arranging their lives in a way that that is realistic.
And they need to use that time as best they possibly can.
No respectable cafe can survive without serving a decent coffee.
Coffee is all about minding about the detail.
I shove it back up, I take my hand away,
I count one, two, three, then I quickly turn it off,
and that will get it to precisely 147 degrees Fahrenheit.
Believe that, you'll believe anything.
One took three, and quick off.
Not too bad.
It seems that learning the dark art of cappuccino making
isn't as easy as it looks.
One, two, three, off.
The reason it's great is that it's good to see absolutely
what you are not wanting to end up with.
I think we've learnt loads today.
It's been so great seeing how the kitchen works, how everyone
has their jobs and they know exactly what they're doing.
I've got this much to learn, which is fine,
but in such a short time, which is the difficult part of it.
At the moment, it's just a really alien environment, really.
It's shocking, from that point of view.
It's fine, we'll be fine.
After a full day at work,
Fiona's starting to understand the reality of running her own cafe.
-Can I do what?
-Can you sort out these?
-Of course I can.
I think about failure a lot.
I'm getting out of my comfort zone,
which I've been in for the last 20 years,
and we are going into something where it's us,
and we're going to be the ones that have to produce the money.
It's potentially going to keep you up all night,
and make you really, really worried,
because at the end of the day it's our lives, our children
the lives of her community, and if it fails that would be dreadful.
Failing would be scary.
Keen for more of Bill's input, they have invited him to their cafe
despite builder's tea being the only thing on offer.
OK, are you going to give me a...
This will be the kind of nice yard, so this will be a focus.
And then the cafe stretching along the river.
-Blimey, it's big, isn't it?
Along the river is this wall of windows.
That's going to be lovely.
The usual thing is ten square feet to a person.
And is that including the table, or is that...
That's including the tables and chairs.
And the only question is, are you going to get enough people here?
Well, the whole idea is that by renovating the mill and having
that as a working flour mill, that becomes a visitor attraction.
I can absolutely imagine it,
it just feels like it's a long way to go.
I think it's incredibly exciting, and I think there's possibilities.
I think there's also the possibility of it being
a complete white elephant and a complete, total failure.
Are the group here going to offer fantastic food, at a sensible price,
in an efficient way, in what could be an absolutely cracking location?
And are people prepared to come to Nowheresville, Nowhere, to experience that?
Actually, I'm going to get killed by somebody.
Despite Bill's doubts, there are two locals who are convinced
that a working mill will draw people to Nowheresville.
Bruce and Dave are so taken with the mill that they've given up
their weekend and volunteered to learn the specialised art of milling.
The idea is, by sending three or four of us
on this course, we'll be able to help train everybody else.
There are some big gaps in my knowledge, so really
I'm looking forward to learning quite a lot of this weekend.
We lose sight of the fact that this is what we're working to achieve,
so today is really inspiring, because it gives a sense of what it's going to be like when we're finished.
I've started talking about the wheel,
now that she runs, as a female.
The sort of thing men fall in love with.
And I've got a feeling this is slowly happening to me.
I want to stay involved with her.
They're at Charlecote Mill in Warwickshire.
It seems the hard men of Talgarth have soft centres.
It's like having your first car and needing to get under the bonnet and adjust all the bits and pieces.
This is the engineering bit that goes with the milling.
I wouldn't suggest we mix the oil with the flour,
but I'm really looking forward to getting back
and then getting on to the grinding of the flower.
I think it's fascinating, just the whole package.
The machinery starts to turn, and the whole mill suddenly comes alive.
It is that magical moment. It's fantastic.
And there's something that sort of touches the soul.
It makes you realise just how ignorant you are in some respects.
Yes. It certainly does me!
It's that old expression we now know how much we don't know.
It's early March, just two months until opening.
The leat is complete and the riverside walks are starting to take shape.
Much of the focus is now on the mill's 750-piece mechanical jigsaw.
That is miles too high.
The last time I visited, the mill was derelict.
Hello, how are you?
-Good to see you.
-Good to see you again.
Oh, my goodness, look at that!
-Isn't that wonderful?
-It's great to hear you say that.
Just the look on your face is a good thing to see.
There's something kind of amazing about it, magical at the same time.
Now I know it's here,
if I'm anywhere in this area I am definitely going to come
and see this, and I'd bring my kids to come and see this.
I suppose the key is, making sure everyone knows how amazing it is.
Yeah, the tourist network around here is so good that
when people come to visit this area, they do tend to
go from one town to the next town to the next town.
Even with a thriving tourist trail on the doorstep, I really
think it's the cafe that needs to be the jewel in their crown.
This is wonderful, this space.
I've been really worried about how much money we're going to make and whether it is sustainable.
But this space makes me relax a little bit,
because the thought of sitting here by the river with those
windows open, I think, will sell it.
Yeah. I think the potential of this is fantastic.
You're sort of relatively confident that you'll be
sipping tea in here in eight weeks' time?
Well, I wasn't four weeks ago, but, having seen what's happened
in the last four weeks, I think quite a lot could be done in eight weeks.
-It's coming together.
-It is coming together, really fast.
Perhaps not fast enough for eight weeks, but it's going to be a great space.
Not having the cafe up and running for the opening
and, more crucially, the start of the tourist season, is a huge blow.
If ever the project needed a reality check, it's now.
Basically, you're trying to launch in eight weeks' time.
That's the aim, isn't it?
You're meant to say, "Yeah, that's right, absolutely!"
It's a really ambitious timetable,
but we're going to give it our best shot.
Have you got an idea of what food you're making?
-It's got to be bread-led.
The food that we serve will be baked on the premises.
-Are you planning on making a profit?
It might break even to start with, I should think,
and a certain percentage towards the mill.
-OK, and then are you expecting a salary on top of that?
The business plan provides for salaries out of minimum wage.
Cos normally when you start a business,
you'd probably expect to not have a salary for the first year or so.
We've done a lot so far, helping to set things up.
But there's a limit to how long you will do that.
But you haven't got any idea what you're going to sell, you're
not really sure how the business will work, or whether you've got
a salary, or even what share you've got, and you open in eight weeks.
That's not enough time. It's clearly not enough time.
It'll be easier when the building work's finished
and you've got a building to move forward with.
People will believe it's going to happen.
At the moment, really, it's just one almighty building project, isn't it?
Nothing's actually happened in terms of a business.
In fact, that's probably the problem...
nothing has happened in terms of a business!
With only two months to go before they're due to open,
the team still have a very long way to go.
Everyone in the community has given so much,
but it is going to take one final push.
I just hope that collectively there's enough gas
left in the tank to get them over the finishing line.
Dan, can you lower it a bit?
We're about to start lifting the millstones into the building.
For the first time in 60-odd years there will be
a millstone in there.
The final pieces of the mill's complex workings are being
Every little bit, you're gradually building it up brick by brick
and beam by beam, you know.
And it's a step closer to ultimately seeing flour coming
out into the sacks.
John and Saul are continuing work on the riverside walks
at the back of the mill.
So we've got the beautiful river, people will be able to come into
this previously private space and a little distance down there, they'll
encounter this fully renovated water wheel, just turning around.
That's really good. We could have an option of ham, or local cheeses.
The baking team are finally nailing down a menu,
sourcing suppliers, and even thinking about their interiors.
-Oh, I like chapel green.
-I like that, yeah.
Now, does this suit us?
The ladies have done all they can to be prepared for opening.
But it's looking like the cafe is a long way off.
With the mill's advertised opening only four days away,
I've come to see just how ready they are.
-Are you going to be ready?
Yeah, we are going to be ready.
There's definitely bits that will be ready,
and there's a big question mark over other bits.
The mill will be finished and you'll be able to see the milling.
And out here, you know, will be
at a reasonable state to allow people out the back.
But the cafe won't be finished.
How disappointing is that?
Because you had this date, from the beginning,
that you were going to hit.
And you're not going to actually hit it, are you?
No, I mean, it is disappointing, of course it's disappointing.
However, there are massive,
massive construction projects that are not finished on time.
We always knew that with a bunch of amateurs managing
a project like this, there would be problems.
It's not like we've got time to completely finish the building
and then do our staff training nice and slowly, test it out,
experiment a little bit.
And you're going to go ahead anyway, with opening in four days?
Even though it's not finished?
We kind of owe it to ourselves,
for people to see how far we have had to come.
In four days' time, this place will be open to the public
and milling flour for the first time since 1946.
But it's far from finished, and opening without the riverside
walks, the cafe or the bakery is a risky strategy.
Word of mouth is critical to its success, and any negative
thoughts will be very difficult for this business to recover from.
In a few days' time, 450 mills all over the country will
open their doors to the public for National Mills Weekend.
It's an annual event
and the pressure is on to get the new mill on the block ready.
Most other mills will have a cafe that can cash in on
the extra footfall, but sadly, not Talgarth's.
Fortunately, the baking team aren't taking it lying down.
They've invited me to the local woods to gather
ingredients for their contingency plan.
-Have you got five? Cos if you have, you have to put some back.
Ooh, that smell. Strong.
-Yeah, on your fingers.
-Never going to get a snog tonight!
So you've accepted that Saturday is not going to be
the open day for the cafe?
We don't want to waste that opportunity, even though we're
not open, to get more word out about us and that we will be opening soon.
So we're going to be making some cakes, and bread-based buns,
and some fougasse bread with wild garlic, Parmesan for people to eat,
sort of walking around.
You know what, I think you are making the best of bad luck,
and I think you're doing really well.
It's another opportunity for us to make sure we've got
everything right in our business plan.
When we do these cakes, have we got them priced right, things like that.
So it's a really... It's a positive.
For a long time, Talgarth has been overlooked and unvisited.
Today, all that could be about to change.
It's the 14th of May, and the start of National Mills Weekend.
We're opening the doors in an hour.
Despite the pressure, Dave is as calm as ever.
Oh, it's just another day, in't it? Another day, another new mill.
12 months ago, this site was derelict, overgrown and neglected.
It could have stayed in ruins, but the passion of a group
of local people and utter determination has paid off.
The engineering heart of the mill is now up and running.
Having shifted over 100 tonnes of soil
and placed 15,000 stones with care and love, the overgrown riverbank
now hosts beautiful landscape walks for visitors and locals to enjoy.
No matter how impressive the transformation is,
the big test is if it will attract tourists.
Someone's on the way whose opinion could make or break
the mill's position on the tourist trail.
The classic thing they say you need is a loo, a brew,
and a view. So I'll be hoping that they've got all those things in place
so that people get what they want when they come to visit the mill.
Richard Tyler is from the tourist board
of the Brecon Beacons National Park.
If he's not impressed,
they could miss out on getting crucial free publicity.
Despite their inexperience, the team are hoping their pop-up cafe
will keep Richard and the visitors happy.
Half of it is not open, but, you know.
We're saving a few special bits for later.
Actually, this is an auspicious day. It's an historic moment.
The wheel is turning publicly for the first time in 65 years.
We'll be grinding flour for the first time,
and it all comes together in this one day.
Good morning and welcome to everybody, welcome to Talgarth Mill.
This building itself has been here since the 18th century.
It last milled in 1946.
Having lain dormant for over half a century, it is
time for the heart of the mill to start beating again.
This is opening the sluice gate to let the wheel operate. Bit more.
It's a historic moment.
I was very emotional to see it go in.
I think it'll be a good thing,
and hopefully a lot of people come and see it.
Fantastic, and it's a community project,
and look what people have done!
-Very exciting really, isn't it? Feels quite inspiring.
And we've volunteered now, we're going to be involved,
because we're so taken by it.
-The buzz in the mill hasn't gone unnoticed.
-Haven't they done well?
It really is superb.
There is no doubt that the mill is going to be firmly on
the tourist map.
They will have to get the cafe going, and really, as soon as possible.
But as an attraction for people to enjoy,
it's going to be a great success.
And the baking ladies are getting all the signs that their cafe
could just work.
That's £3.50, please.
They're mildly cool cakes now,
but yeah, they're going like hot cakes!
The wheel team have one last play with their toy, and soon,
Talgarth mill is producing useable flour.
-Look at this, look at this!
-Is that the very first?
Do you want to try some? It's the first bit we put through a sieve.
Fire up the oven, then. It's not here, is it?!
Well, we've had a first day's milling and it's come out great.
It was such a relief when we had Richard from the tourist board come
today from Brecon Beacons National Park and say that it was good.
That's the first endorsement we've had.
-The day may be winding down...
-Shutting up shop for the day, yes.
But there's one thing that just keeps blooming!
I'm really in love with this now.
I'll be here all day, just the sound of it!
MUSIC: Franki Valli, Can't Take My Eyes Off You
I'm completely besotted.
At least if I'm messing with old machinery, the wife knows where I am!
With the Brecon Beacons soon to be heaving with tourists,
never has it been more important to get the mill's cafe open.
Then you've got it there, and you've got it there,
and if you had it behind...
The old mill workshop has been transformed into a beautiful
cafe, which is now ready for customers.
To launch the cafe and get to grips with serving,
the baking team have prepared a special afternoon tea.
Do you want to do coffee?
There's no turning back now for any of them.
-Are you happy with the coffee machine?
Would you like to order coffee or tea?
Not only is it a full house,
but the customers are loving Talgarth's brand new cafe.
The cakes are delicious, I think it's absolutely marvellous.
They're all really nice.
This is absolutely beautiful, opened up onto the river.
The closest for us would be Hay, if you want anything like this.
You know, Talgarth has got a lot to offer
and I think this has just made it more special.
-A not-so-secret diner has arrived to surprise the ladies.
Does Sir want a double shot?
Bill had serious doubts about the cafe's prospects,
but the inexperienced cafe team appear to have pulled it off.
Given the situation that they're in, that they've just barely,
barely opened, ten-and-a-half, I'd say.
Yeah, pretty good.
The food and drink is lovely, the coffee was beautiful.
If you were on holiday and you wanted to sit
and read the paper and have a coffee and a brownie...
what a lovely place to find!
So yeah, I think it's fantastic, love it.
With their first day's trading drawing to a close,
the baking team have made their dream a reality.
The remarkable thing about the project is the amount of people,
time, love and sheer effort it has taken.
It seems to have had a massive impact on all of them.
And so, the big question, will you stay?
We'd love to stay.
I'm coming to the end of my contract and this all finishing...
that's actually been the hardest part of the whole project.
Just thinking about leaving. Ooh! I don't want to.
It's really changed us as a family.
I think it has taken over our lives,
and it has rooted us in this rural community.
When you look at it now, do you feel amazing pride?
It has been the biggest struggle of my life, to be honest.
But when I look around, I actually feel like, wow. Unbelievable.
Because it's not just about a pretty riverside walk, it's about
using local knowledge and getting the old and young people together
and saying, "OK, now we've done this, what are we going to do next?"
I can't resist seeing the cafe in action.
Or rather, getting a free biscuit!
-Those are my absolute favourite.
If I'd said to you this is where you'd be in a year's time,
would you have believed it?
No, because you kind of think, yeah, right, you know?
But then, but it gives you this amazing warm glow. You think...
Like on Sunday, there were all these people in here,
we were standing here, and in the brief seconds where it
wasn't like, "We want a cappuccino", it was like, wow.
All these people are here and enjoying our stuff.
And we've been through so much.
We know we can take on anything now, because we've dealt with it all.
The way that the mill stands in the centre of the town,
it kind of... It's doing that as well.
All the different people who have got very different lives
from each other seem to be focused and positive about this project.
It's going to happen now, we just have to keep going,
as we're doing, and it'll happen.
I think you grabbed it with both hands, and I'm coming back.
I've got a funny feeling you're going to be flying
in a year's time, with this. It's going to be doing very well.
You know, I've loved this project right from the first day that
I came here.
In fact, it would be difficult not to engage with it when you
look at how much time, effort and passion everyone has put into it.
If only a fraction of the people who come to this area pop in to
the mill, the bakery and the cafe,
this is going to be a roaring success.
If you've been inspired to create a community project in your area
and want to find out about the grants available,
and how to apply, go to...
A group of volunteers have a big plan to transform their dying
local into a thriving business.
I have the keys!
It hasn't been cleaned properly for a long, long, long time.
Until I came here, I don't think I've ever lived real life.
But can they get the community behind them?
Along with drugs comes bad behaviour.
There are always, kind of, fights and hostile atmosphere.
Ladies and gentlemen...
I'm a volunteer, I'm trying to do something good for my community,
why are you shouting at me?
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Sarah Beeny follows a passionate group of locals as they spend a year trying to rescue their community. When the residents of Talgarth near Brecon applied for a grant from the BIG Lottery fund to renovate a derelict mill, they had no idea what was in store. The mill last ground corn in 1946, but can a bunch of volunteers really turn its fortunes around?