Back in 2012 when we first set foot inside the Grade II listed Cannock Mill, its fantastic potential as our common house was obvious.
Now fully restored and insulated, Cannock Mill is not only a local landmark, but is the beating heart of our community, hosting a wide variety of activities, with eating and socialising at the top of the list.
Spread over three floors, with the glorious top floor open up to the rafters, the mill now houses the dining room, sitting room, guest bedrooms and a laundry/utility/craft room. There is a fully accessible lift, which also serves the external deck, providing level access to four of the flats from the car park.
At street level, there are two guest bedrooms and bathrooms, ideal for those downsizing but who still need an extra room occasionally. A utility room houses shared washing and drying machines, receives the weekly bulk delivery from our local greengrocer and is available for crafts.
‘In our historic and characterful common house (the old mill) we began to do things together from the day we moved in. We had meals, played games, chatted informally over tea and coffee, celebrated the new year, talked in more structured conversations about books we had read or issues that interested us. It added a dimension to my life. There when you want it, but no obligation.’
The middle floor is where we eat and meet together. We prepare communal meals in our well-equipped kitchen two or three times a week.
The dining room is large enough to accommodate everyone for a meal and is also a good space for the formal meetings that are essential to the smooth running of the community. And with tables and chairs cleared away, the open-plan space can be used for any number of more entertaining activities.
Adjacent to the middle floor, the deck provides a natural outdoor extension for more eating and meeting. This sun trap overlooking the mill pond is a brilliant spot for informal gatherings. A door into the kitchen conveniently leads directly to a tea and coffee making corner.
‘Working from home can be quite a lonely experience, but not so at Cannock Mill. Whenever I want a break, I can take my coffee to the mill terrace and will usually be joined by another Miller or two. And there are plenty of activities to join in, when my working schedule allows me to: games evenings, French conversation sessions, discussions on a wide range of topics, and of course gardening and cooking together.‘
The mill’s top floor is one lovely large space with views out over the mill pond and the woods behind. Looking out, it is easy to understand why the mill is the natural focus of the project.
Open up to the rafters, this comfortable and informal room can be used for pretty much anything within reason, but mainly just relaxing, either individually or as a group, for example to enjoy a film.