When the last of five generations of Pattersons operating their spade-mill at Templepatrick died in 1990, a long tradition seemed likely to disappear, but the National Trust acquired the property and commissioned Hearth to carry out its restoration.
It is not by any stretch of the imagination a piece of fine architecture, but it is a fascinating relic of rural industrial archaeology, and following the Trust’s intervention spades are still made there today. The property started life as a paper mill, and was used as a linen beetling mill before the Pattersons took it over in 1910, so the challenge was to restore the mill to a working state as it was in its heyday (around 1950) while still revealing the earlier history.
As well as repairing the buildings in 1993-94, the water turbine was brought back into operation by engineer Roy McMeekin, and it powers some thirty other machines through a system of belts and drives, which between them facilitate the many complex stages of hand-made spades. A difficult balance had to be struck between health and safety for workers and the desire to leave the interior as open and visible as possible for visitors.