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New sails lifted onto iconic mill after £250k conservation project

PUBLISHED: 14:12 23 August 2019 | UPDATED: 15:05 23 August 2019

Sails go back on at Saxtead Green Post Mill  Picture: CHRIS RIDLEY

Sails go back on at Saxtead Green Post Mill Picture: CHRIS RIDLEY

CHRIS RIDLEY

A piece of Suffolk's milling history is setting sail after a year-long £250k conservation project.

Sails go back on at Saxtead Green Post Mill  Picture: JUSTIN MINNSSails go back on at Saxtead Green Post Mill Picture: JUSTIN MINNS

English Heritage has hoisted a newly-constructed set of sails into place on 18th century Saxtead Green Post Mill near Framlingham.

Working in collaboration with one of Suffolk's last remaining specialist millwrights - Tim Whiting - the major conservation project was aimed at safeguarding the mill for the future.

Alongside a new set of sails and stocks, a replacement staircase was created and repairs undertaken to the timber Buck house and the fantail at the rear of the windmill.

It is the first part of a major investment in historic windmills by 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. Traditional millwrighting - a skill practised in the UK for more than 700 years - has been added to the Heritage Crafts Association's red list of critically endangered heritage crafts, with only a handful of people still practising it across the country.

Millwright Tim Whiting at Saxtead Green Post Mill  Picture: CHRIS RIDLEYMillwright Tim Whiting at Saxtead Green Post Mill Picture: CHRIS RIDLEY

English Heritage says it hopes that the works will help keep millwrighting alive.

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Saxtead Green Post Mill is described as "a striking four-sailed corn-grinding windmill", which stands in "an idyllic village green", and a rare example of a post mill, with the whole body turning with the wind on its base.

It was constructed around 1796, and was rebuilt three times.

Sails go back on at Saxtead Green Post Mill  Picture: JUSTIN MINNSSails go back on at Saxtead Green Post Mill Picture: JUSTIN MINNS

Cast iron machinery was added in 1854 and the mill stayed in use until 1947. It is maintained in working order and regularly open to visitors by the conservation body.

Joseph James, English Heritage's national project manager, said they were "delighted" to secure the future of an important piece of Suffolk's heritage.

"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.

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

Sails go back on at Saxtead Green Post Mill  Picture: CHRIS RIDLEYSails go back on at Saxtead Green Post Mill Picture: CHRIS RIDLEY

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