CIVIC chiefs have been awarded a £1.3m grant to transform two of Hampshire’s most historic buildings.

Most of the cash from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) will be used to fund improvements to Eling Tide Mill, the only one in the UK that still produces flour every day.

Council bosses are planning to provide better access to the building as well as installing a cafe and a new interactive learning area.

Improvements will also be made to Totton and Eling Heritage Centre, where exhibits include a 3,000-year-old dagger that was found at Testwood Lakes.

As reported in the Daily Echo, the scheme aims to encourage more people to visit a picturesque area being promoted as the 'Eling Experience'.

Built in 1785, the grade II Listed mill was abandoned in the 1940s.

It was eventually bought by New Forest District Council, which was instrumental in bringing it back to life in the late 1970s.

Describing the proposed improvements, a council spokesman said: “There will be an exciting programme of activities, exhibitions and events for young and old, including training for volunteer millers. The learning centre and café will provide exciting and flexible spaces for the local community, schools and visitors.”

The HLF grant was welcomed in a statement issued by district councillor Di Brooks and Mel Molyneux, former chairman of Totton and Eling Town Council.

They said: “This project means a lot to the area.

“Local people have told us how important the mill is. This will be a fantastic opportunity for people of all ages to celebrate this unique facility, learn more about it and have fun at the same time.

“With the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund we have secured this wonderful place for the future.”

Stuart McLeod, head of the fund’s south-east region, said: “This project will transform the Eling Experience for visitors to the mill.

“The new learning centre and the variety of community and volunteering opportunities will provide a great chance for people to find out about the heritage of the area and the important role the mill played in local community life.”

The proposed improvements to the mill and the heritage centre were also welcomed by ward councillor David Harrison.