Restoration of windmill wins heritage award

A restoration project which has seen West Blatchington Windmill returned to its former glory has received a heritage award.

Monday, 2nd October 2017, 5:57 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 4:32 am
West Blatchington Windmill has been restored to its former glory

The Grade-II* listed windmill has been awarded the 2017 Public and Community Award from the Sussex Heritage Trust.

The announcement follows a £100,000 restoration, a joint project by Brighton and Hove City Council’s property and design team, Fowler Building Contractors, Baqus Construction Consultancy Ltd and CTP Engineers, in consultation with The Friends of West Blatchington Windmill, which contributed half of the funding.

The award, a commemorative plaque, was attached to the Grade II* listed structure, at a special ceremony last week.

The project team behind the restoration

Peter Hill, chairman of the Friends said: “Thanks to the exemplary quality of workmanship we now have a mill which, excluding a repeat of the hurricane of 1987, will survive the vagrancies of our weather for many years to come.”

The judges said: “The Mill is a fantastic heritage asset, a museum both of its own history and of windmills in general. The Friends of West Blatchington Windmill are to be commended for their effort, energy and enthusiasm in its preservation, without which it would almost certainly have been lost."

Mr Hill said: “They spent an hour and a half with us and left in raptures on what they had seen.”

Mr Hill and the Friends also received a special commendation for the work they have done to preserve the Windmill.

The 74-week restoration project saw specialist contractors carrying out structural repairs to the fan tail and gearing mechanism, reefing stage decking and supports.

Initial inspections revealed several rotten beams, leading to a more complex and lengthy programme of repairs than anticipated.

Weatherboarding and flint walling were also repaired and the mill and barn repainted in a traditional colour to replicate the original tarring.

Existing materials were reused where possible and work was careful programmed to minimise disruption and ensure safe access for the general public attending classes in the attached barn.

Environment councillor Gill Mitchell, said: "West Blatchington Mill is a unique example of a traditional smock windmill so I am delighted that we have been able to work with the Friends Group on this stunning restoration project and ensure this important city asset is preserved and enjoyed by generations of residents.”

West Blatchington Mill, which was illustrated by John Constable in a watercolour 1825, is open to the public on Sundays and Bank Holiday afternoons from May to September. School parties and other groups are shown round at other times by appointment.

Constable’s depiction of the windmill is available to see as part of a Constable exhibition at Brighton Museum until October 8.

Visitors can discover how grain is turned into flour and also explore a display of historical and agricultural exhibits.