Gallery: Putting the wind back into mill's sails

COMPLEX restoration work has put the wind back into the sails of an iconic mill in Suffolk.

Simon Tomlinson

COMPLEX restoration work has put the wind back into the sails of an iconic mill in Suffolk.

The Saxtead Green windmill had fallen into disrepair but an English Heritage-led project has returned the ancient landmark to its former glory.

The corn mill, near Framlingham, was one of many constructed in Suffolk from the late 13th Century and it has been rebuilt several times.

Although milling ceased commercially in 1947, it has remained in working order.

The project involved replacing one pair of sails and refurbishing the other set and was carried out by IJP historic restoration building company at its Oxfordshire workshop.

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Paul Sellwood, mill wright manager for IJP, said: “This is probably one of the best examples of a post mill in the care of English Heritage so they want to keep it as such.

“Bits were falling off because it was so rotten. The challenge has been making sure all the parts of the project come together at the right time.

“It has been hard going, but once these sails go back up the mill will be back to its former glory.”

The phased programme of restoration began last year when the outside of the body of the mill was redecorated.

One pair of sails, made in 1976, and the arm which holds them - called the stock - were taken down around a year ago and found to be rotten. They have been completely replaced.

The other pair of sails, built in 1996, and its stock were brought down in January this year and have been refurbished.

The complex process included custom-making each of the bars to sit at differing angles along the sail to ensure they catch the wind in the most efficient way.

The sails and the one-ton stocks were then transported on a flatbed truck to Suffolk and were being hoisted into place yesterday ready for the summer season.

Post mills are the earliest type of European windmill. The defining feature is that the whole body of the mill that houses the machinery is mounted on a single vertical post, around which it can be turned to bring the sails into the wind.

The earliest post mills in England are thought to have been built in the 11th and 12th Centuries.