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Historic Suffolk windmill saved by English Heritage Print E-mail

The future of a celebrated piece of Suffolk heritage has been secured yesterday, as English Heritage hoisted a newly-constructed set of sails into place on the 18th-century Saxtead Green Post Mill near Framlingham. The reinstallation of the mill’s sails represents the culmination of a £250,000, year-long conservation project in collaboration with one of Suffolk’s last remaining specialist millwrights.

The project is the first part of a major investment in historic windmills by the conservation charity English Heritage, with Sibsey Trader Windmill in Lincolnshire and Berney Arms Windmill in Norfolk both scheduled for works over the next few years. Earlier this year, traditional millwrighting – a skill that has been practiced in the UK for more than 700 years – was added to the Heritage Crafts Association’s red list of critically endangered heritage crafts for the first time, with only a small number of people still practicing nationwide. English Heritage hopes that these important conservation works will help keep millwrighting alive.

Saxtead Green Post Mill is a striking four-sailed corn-grinding windmill in Framilingham in Suffolk. Standing in an idyllic village green, it is a rare example of a post mill, the whole body of which turns with the wind on its base. Originally constructed around 1796, it has been rebuilt three times, with cast iron machinery added in 1854. It was in use until 1947 and is maintained in working order and regularly open to visitors by English Heritage.

Over the past 12 months, English Heritage has been working with specialist local millwright Tim Whiting (pictured) on a major conservation project to safeguard the mill for the future, and alongside the new set of sails and stocks, a replacement staircase has been created and repairs have been undertaken to the timber Buck house as well as the fantail at the rear of the windmill.

Joseph James, English Heritage’s National Project Manager, said: “Saxtead Green Post Mill is a fascinating piece of our industrial history. Before the arrival of steam and electricity, mills powered by wind and water were a vital part of daily life, grinding corn into flour for local people.

“We are delighted to have been able to secure the future of this important piece of Suffolk’s heritage, and this project is all the more timely because millwrighting – a skill that has been practiced in the UK for more than 700 years – has recently been classified as a critically endangered heritage skill. If historic windmills are to survive for the future they need our help now more than ever.”

The project at Saxtead Green Post Mill is the first part of a major investment in historic windmills by English Heritage, with Sibsey Trader Windmill in Lincolnshire and Berney Arms Windmill in Norfolk both scheduled for works over the next few years. Earlier this year, traditional millwrighting – a skill that has been practiced in the UK for more than 700 years – was been added to the Heritage Crafts Association’s red list of critically endangered heritage crafts for the first time, with only a small number of people still practicing nationwide.

The conservation project is scheduled to be completed by the end of September 2019, and Saxtead Green Post Mill is due to reopen to the public for a special weekend on 21 -22 September, before it permanently reopens in 2020.

For further information visit www.english-heritage.org.uk

Image 1 - Courtesy of Justin Minns
Image 2 & 3 - Courtesy of Chris Ridley

 

 
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