Iconic mill is closed as trustees begin restoration efforts

PUBLISHED: 07:30 20 April 2019

Thaxted windmill. Picture: Saffron Photo

Thaxted windmill. Picture: Saffron Photo

SaffronPhoto 2016

John Webb’s Mill in Thaxted has been added to the heritage at risk register and will not be open to the public until further notice.

The windmill, which was built in 1804 for John Webb, a local farmer and landowner, is owned by Thaxted Parish Council and more than £100,000, raised through open days and fundraising, has been spent on the restoration of the tower mill.

A statement from the trustees said: “It is with regret that the trustees of the windmill have to announce that we will not be able to open the building for the 2019 season.

“As you may recall, a lot of exterior work was carried out on the windmill last summer. This involved the removal of the fantail and most of the shutters from the sails. The cap was then locked off for the winter period. Unfortunately, the cap machinery was showing signs of wear and tear and these steps were taken for safety reasons and to preserve the overall integrity of the mill. Our consultant millwright then carried out an extensive survey of the building and it was deemed that there were other issues that needed addressing.

“We have been working closely with Historic England over the past months and they have now taken the decision to add the windmill to the heritage at risk register. This is a very positive step and provides us with a solid backing to start the process of costing and raising the money required to undertake the necessary work. It will, however, be a long process as has been in the past and it is essential that any renovations and repairs are done correctly.

“As a group of trustees we are committed to preserving our local landmark for future generations to come but we may also need to call upon your help to achieve this.”

After the mill became uneconomic to run in 1907, it was a playground for local children until the 1930s when some repairs were carried out so that it could be used as a scout and youth centre.

By the late 1950s it was again derelict and in need of repair, and remained empty until 1970 when a trust was formed to restore the building and open it to the public as a rural museum. Restoration work has been carried out in stages, and in 1991 the sails were re-erected and turned for the first time in almost 85 years.

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