The Old Willow Works at Beckingham is an important heritage buildings that has been restored as part of the Trent Vale Landscape Partnership. This was the home to a willow working cottage industry for much of the second half of the 1800s and the first half of the 1900s.
To provide the raw materials for the industry, willow beds existed around the Old Willow Works and the village of Beckingham. In its heyday, there was probably around 50 hectares dedicated to willow growing around Beckingham.
Although unlisted, the Old Willow Works has a century of local significance as a working building, a place where local people learned and maintained the tradition of willow working during the Victorian era. It was deliberately built to prevent the sun overheating the inside of the building and so prevent the willow drying too quickly. It only has windows on its north facing wall to allow light for working. It is significant through its survival as a unique example of this type of structure. It is built in a style unknown elsewhere in Nottinghamshire and it is unlikely there is another similar building in the whole country.
Products made at the Old Willow Works included everyday objects such as chairs and baskets. It is not known how many genuine Beckingham willow products still exist, or tools that would have been used to prepare the material for weaving.
The local community and in particular the Beckingham History Group have recognised its heritage significance and have worked hard to raise awareness of the building and funds for its restoration. Restoration of the building is now a key project for the Trent Vale Landscape Partnership, with funding through the Heritage Lottery Fund, WREN, Star Energy and others. The building also occupies a strategic position on Beckingham Marshes, an important new habitat developed and managed by the RSPB.
When restoration is complete the building will be used as a community heritage centre, will offer office and workshop space for rent and provide a meeting, training and education facility available for hire from its new owners, Groundwork Creswell, Ashfield and Mansfield.