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'Top-less' windmill could have cap and sails restored within a year

PUBLISHED: 10:30 16 June 2018 | UPDATED: 11:50 16 June 2018

Work being completed on the Billingford Mill. Picture: Amanda Rix

Work being completed on the Billingford Mill. Picture: Amanda Rix

Amanda Rix

A "top-less" windmill that had its sails removed for renovation is set to be turning again with the next year.

Work being completed on the Billingford Mill. Picture: Amanda RixWork being completed on the Billingford Mill. Picture: Amanda Rix

Billingford Mill has been a feature of the South Norfolk countryside for more than 200 years.

But its cap and sails were removed last year as part of a refurbishment project to restore the ageing mill, which had been battered by wind over several decades, to be restored to its former glory.

Amanda Rix, historic environment officer for Norfolk County Council, said: “A fully enclosed scaffold was erected in January to enable works to continue beneath.

“Works began by lifting the wooden kerb and iron track that sits on the top of the tower.

Work being completed on the Billingford Mill. Picture: Amanda RixWork being completed on the Billingford Mill. Picture: Amanda Rix

“This enabled the builders to access the brickwork beneath so that the damaged brickwork could be dismantled and rebuilt.”

On further inspection, it was discovered that sections of iron bars in the mills structure had cracked.

Ms Rix added: “Some repairs have been carried out to the windows and doors and cracks in the brickwork have been stitched.

“But it was discovered whilst lifting the kerb that over half the iron track sections that sit on the timber curb were found to be cracked and needed to be renewed.

“New castings have been made and are in the process of being milled.”

Brickwork repairs are expected to be completed within the next month in preparation for the cap and sails to be put back on.

Ms Rix said: “The cap will be hoisted back onto the mill and left to wind before the stocks and sails are fitted in spring 2019, when the sails will once again be able to turn and grain be ground at the mill.”

The mill is owned by Norfolk County Council and maintained by the Norfolk Windmills Trust.

The project was developed with the involvement of the Friends of Billingford Windmill, which is chaired by land owner Sir Rupert Mann.

The work on the mill would not have been possible without the hard work of fundraisers and volunteers.

Volunteers are needed for a number of roles around the site, especially to train as millers and guides so that the mill can be opened more frequently.

Anyone interested should email amanda.rix@norfolk.gov.uk

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