Trouble at Stansted Mountfitchet windmill

PUBLISHED: 08:18 09 May 2012

Rapid Platforms of Spellbrook came to the rescue of the windmill after the latest failure threatened to close it over the bank holiday weekend.

Rapid Platforms of Spellbrook came to the rescue of the windmill after the latest failure threatened to close it over the bank holiday weekend.

Tudor Owen

STANSTED Mountfitchet windmill continues to be beset by mechanical problems following an expensive renovation.

Specialist firm Rapid Platforms of Spellbrook came to the rescue of the mill after the latest failure threatened to close it over the bank holiday weekend, by providing a cherry-picker and operatives at very short notice on Friday morning.

Along with the mill’s resident engineer, Steve Mansfield, they reached the striking gear near the top of the 57-feet high mill and removed the sail rods which had become bent in strong winds over the winter. Two of them were found last week to have broken free at the outer end leaving them dangling dangerously and necessitating this speedy action.

The mill, built in 1787, underwent a £200,000 renovation two years ago which allowed the cap to turn to face into the wind for the first time in a hundred years. The ‘live curb’ means the cap is constantly on the move hunting for the wind, which puts a heavy strain on the original wooden machinery that makes the grade II listed ancient monument unique in Essex.

The bent rods are the latest in a series of failures following the renovation work, and is an inevitable side effect of bringing a part of the windmill back to life. They present a real challenge for the dedicated team of volunteers, the Stansted Millers, and the trustees who look after the mill.

Other problems of late have been the large wooden ‘worm’ that drives the cap round, and was binding on the new brickwork at the top, the breaking of some teeth on the fantail gear that drives the worm, while the oak legs that support the worm at one end have cracked and need to be replaced.

“Thankfully all these issues can be and are being resolved so this much loved village icon can continue to be enjoyed by all for generations to come,” said a spokesman for the Stansted Millers.

“When the current problems are resolved we hope the cap can once again be left to turn into the wind automatically and the sails ‘run’ on special occasions.”

The mill is open to visitors on the first Sunday of every month and bank holidays and to groups by arrangement. It will also be on open this Sunday, from 1.30-5.30pm as part of National Mills weekend (May 13/14).

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