THE FUTURE of Barry Mill, near Carnoustie, is now more secure following the announcement that it has been upgraded to a category A listed building.
The historic meal mill, which was saved from closure thanks to a high-profile campaign by the Friends of Barry Mill, belongs to the National Trust for Scotland. Its immediate future was secured when Angus Council agreed to underwrite losses of up to 15,000 a year over the next three years in a bid to keep the attraction open.
The recognition of the mill's importance has been backed by Historic Scotland, which announced the upgrading of its status last week.
A spokeswoman said: "The revised listing to Category A is a result of a review of certain building types in Scotland. Barry Mill is a distinct and increasingly rare example of a water-powered grain mill which was once a central part of life in rural Scotland.
"Watermills have been becoming rarer since the first listings in the 1960s and the listing team, prompted by other mill enquiries, carried out a short overview of the type in 2009 to ensure that they were up to date and consistent in their grading.
"The surviving character and interest at Barry Mill is accordingly rare and valuable and duly recognised at a national level by the 'A' listing and is particularly significant at a time when there is a growing interest in micro-renewable energy."
Water power was gradually replaced from the 19th century as new sources of power systems came into prominence - from horse power to coal-fired engines. Most water-powered mills are now redundant and many have been converted to other uses or demolished.
The rate at which such mills have been disappearing from the Scottish countryside increased particularly from the early 20th century when milling activity centralised in large steam-powered city mills and the Scottish bias began to shift towards mass-produced food.
The mill's property manager Peter Ellis said: "Barry Mill is a fine example of a working, water-powered mill.
"One of the very last working mills of its type in the whole of Scotland, it offers a unique insight into the central role that mills played in the everyday lives of people in rural communities.
"In a climate where energy efficiency matters, the mill provides us with many lessons that we can draw on in order to understand the value of using local natural resources.
"We are pleased that the property's listing has been upgraded, which will help ensure that its significance remains for future generations."
With records for the site going back to 1539, the mill was the last water-powered meal mill to have worked in Angus, ceasing operation in 1982.
NTS bought the mill “for the benefit of the nation” and, after conservation and repair, opened it to the public in 1992.
In March this year it was one of 11 NTS-owned sites earmarked for possible mothballing due to operational deficits.
The mill was saved after councillors, led by local member Peter Murphy, agreed to provide financial assistance while looking at ways to make the attraction more profitable.
Mr Murphy said he was delighted at the upgrading of the building's status to category A.
"This is something which I welcome wholeheartedly as it gives the Mill a much better standing in terms of its value as a historically important structure, going back, as it does almost to medieval times when it first came into being.
“As well as that, it does a great deal to ensure its survival into the future as a ‘going concern’, what with the continuing support of the National Trust in partnership with Angus Council and the ever-present commitment of the Friends of Barry Mill locally."
The mill re-opens to visitors in the spring.