Historic mill may close due to 'apathy'

A TOURIST attraction which is a towering landmark in Woodbridge could close due to lack of visitors.

Richard Smith

A TOURIST attraction which is a towering landmark in Woodbridge could close due to lack of visitors.

The future of Buttrum's Mill in Burkitt Road is under the spotlight after the owners Martin and Betty Whitworth warned that nobody seemed interested in the 19th Century mill.

Mrs Whitworth said: ''There is absolute apathy - I do not really think that Woodbridge cares about this and unfortunately I do not know what the answer is.

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''The locals have not seen it, they did not want to see it and the town's visitors think it is too far up the road to come to although we do have a car park.''

The six-storey brick windmill stands at the bottom of the couple's garden and is part of the town's heritage.

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But Mr Whitworth said: ''Half of Woodbridge does not know where it is or how to get here.''

The couple bought the house and mill in 1969 and in the early years they had occasional open days which supported various public appeals. Thirty years ago an open day would bring in £1,000 which was a substantial sum at the time and more recently the couple decided to ask the public to support St Elizabeth Hospice and the East Suffolk Association for the Blind by giving donations at the mill.

On a good year more than £2,000 was donated but in 2006 a paltry £220 was given as the number of visitors dwindled.

Visitor numbers declined when the Americans pulled out of the twin air bases near Woodbridge in 1993. Families visiting service personnel used to visit Woodbridge and enjoy the town's attractions including the mill.

The loss of the ferry using Felixstowe was another blow but the couple hoped a new warden, Keith Burton, would inspire visitors.

Mr Burton enthusiastically unveiled plans for a new business and he brings in grinding equipment to the mill and shows visitors how bread is made.

The ground floor and exhibition are free, but mill visitors were put off by the £2.50 fee to explore upper storeys. On some occasions, said Mr Burton, he had no visitors.

Mr Burton, of Mallard Way, Hollesley, said: ''I shall not be at the mill next year. I just do not know what can be done and I think it is in the hands of the county council now.''

The county council has a lease until 2049 and this includes an obligation to maintain the building. The costs vary from £1,000 to £15,000 a year, depending on the need to repaint it, and Mr Whitworth said the county council had failed to paint it last year as scheduled.

The mill will open for what could be the last time on September 27 and 28 from 1pm to 5pm.

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