Job vacancy: leading UK textile mill museum in Devon seeks new trustee

The Coldharbour Mill Museum in Uffculme, Mid Devon, often regarded as one of the best examples of a textile mill complex in the UK, currently has a vacancy for a trustee. The advertisement reads:

About Coldharbour Mill Museum

Our Mission – By conserving the past, our mission is to educate and inspire future generations

Coldharbour Mill Trust Ltd operates the Coldharbour Mill Working Wool Museum which is housed in a Grade II* listed building, originating in the 18th century as a wool-spinning factory and operated by seven generations of the Fox family firm until closure in 1981. This small independent charity works to preserve a site of great historic and architectural value, and actively engages the public with the heritage of the woollen industry, the story of both the industrial revolution and the generation of power. Historic England describes the Mill as “probably one of the best-preserved textile mill complexes in the country.”

The Coldharbour Mill site actually comprises about 12 acres, which includes the millpond and a mile of leats deriving from the river Culm, the Great Weir and part of the River Culm itself, as well as fields, a paddock, and a complex of industrial buildings. The latter is composed of an early 18th century four-storey former grist mill, the late18th century purpose-built main factory building of 5 storeys 39 feet wide by 123 feet long, which was very large for its time, and six one- and two-storey outbuildings.

The Mill retains not only its working examples of textile machinery, water and steam power, but also collections of textile-related exhibits and archives that have been identified as being of national importance.

Following many years of declining visitor numbers, little if no investment in the site and an out of date educational programme, the Trust appointed their first Chief Executive in 2017. He was tasked with working closely with the Trustees to develop a strategy that would not only reverse these declining numbers but put the Mill firmly back in its rightful place as one of the finest examples of a working woollen mill in the country and good progress is being made.

The charity receives no state or local government funding, being dependent on income from admission fees, donations and grants, and the revenue obtained by its trading subsidiary from commercial activities which include sales of goods produced in the museum factory, and rent from tenanted outbuildings.
Since the appointment of the Chief Executive, our visitor numbers are on track to double by the end of 2020. Income has increased by178% since 2016. Unused and neglected outbuildings have been restored and will soon form part of the visitor experience and school visitor numbers are increasing as are group visits. Volunteer numbers have tripled and we are working hard to reach our target of offering 33,000 hours of volunteer opportunities by the end of 2020 (6,530 in 2016 and 15,000 in 2018) All of this has been achieved with a small staff team and over one hundred amazing volunteers.


Our Board of Trustees, who are also Directors of the Company limited by guarantee, are:

o Jackie Dawkins (Chair) – HR Link.
o Kevin Stower (Vice Chair) – Fundraising Link. 
o Jilly Collins – Production and Events Link. 
o Ian Birt – Finance Link. 
o Dean Collins – Operations and H&S Link.
The Board meets quarterly and usually for the whole day. In addition, there are monthly finance/oversight meetings which take place at 4pm at the Mill attended by the Chair and the Vice-Chair and other Trustees if available. There is an annual strategy day and Trustees are encouraged to take advantage of training and development opportunities available and are also encouraged to volunteer at events and attend community participation events.

Coldharbour Mill Trust has an annual income of c£250k and the 2018 Annual Report can be found HERE.   

Role Description

Charity Trustees are the people who serve on the governing body of a charity. They are equally responsible in law for the Board’s actions and decisions and have equal status as Trustees. Charity Trustees have and must accept ultimate responsibility for the charity’s affairs. They use their personal skills and experience to ensure that the charity is solvent, well run, efficient and delivering its charitable outcomes.

The Trustee role can be very rewarding and enjoyable offering an opportunity to serve the community whilst learning new skills. The Trustees role is to focus on the strategic direction of the charity and to ensure effectiveness and accountability. Day-to-day operational decisions are delegated to the Chief Executive and Senior Management Team.

Key Responsibilities

To actively contribute to the Board of Trustees, which:

o Sets and maintains the vision, mission and values.
o Develops the strategic direction and longer-term strategies.
o Establishes and monitors policy.
o Ensures compliance with the Governing Document.
o Ensures accountability, in that the charity applies its resources exclusively in furtherance of its objectives. 
o Ensures compliance with the law.
o Maintains a proper fiscal oversight.
o Maintains effective Board performance.
o Promotes the charity.
o Appoints, supports and monitors performance of the Chief Officer and Senior Management Team. 

In addition to the above duties, each Trustee should use any specific skills, knowledge or experience they have to help the Board of Trustees reach sound decisions.

Person specification

Individuals are sought who have a strong empathy with our mission. We are looking for:-

Experience, skills, and expertise in one or more of the following:

o Management, especially of a charity or a heritage site, marketing, communication, social media, fundraising and income generation, press and PR. 
o An interest in museum development and in textiles and textile history, combined with the will to acquire an in-depth understanding of our work and ambitions.  o Experience of building and sustaining relationships with key stakeholders and colleagues to achieve organisational objectives.
o Able to demonstrate sound judgement and effective decision making.
o A history of impartiality, fairness and the ability to respect confidentiality.
o A commitment to promoting equality and diversity. 
o Commitment to Coldharbour Mill and a willingness to devote the necessary time and effort. 
o Preparedness to make unpopular recommendations to the board, and a willingness to speak their mind. 
o Willingness to be available to staff for advice and enquiries on an ad-hoc basis.
o Good, independent judgement and strategic vision. 
o An understanding and acceptance of the legal duties, responsibilities and liabilities of Trusteeship, and 
o An ability to work effectively as a member of a team.
Recruitment Process

If you are interested in becoming a Trustee, we would love to hear from you. Please email your CV and covering letter to the Chair, Jackie Dawkins ( After an initial telephone conversation, you may be invited to an informal meeting with Jackie and the CEO at Coldharbour Mill so you can hear more about our work and we can find out more about you.

Image: Coldharbour Mill