Historic Suffolk landmark restored to former beauty with new fantail

A crane hoists the new fantail to the top of the mill

A crane hoists the new fantail to the top of the mill - Credit: Suffolk County Council

An historic Suffolk landmark has been given a new lease of life after a key feature was restored. 

Buttrum’s Mill in Woodbridge, which was originally built in 1863, has had a new fantail installed to mirror its long-lost original.

The six-bladed fantail automatically turns to ensure the sails always face into the wind, regardless of whether they are turning.

The original fantail was lost in the 1940s as the mill fell into disrepair following its closure.

Councillor Melanie Vigo Di Gallidoro, front, Councillor Caroline Page, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Woodbridge

Councillor Melanie Vigo Di Gallidoro, front, Councillor Caroline Page, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Woodbridge, Mayor of Woodbridge Councillor Patrick Gillard, and millwright Bill Griffiths - Credit: Suffolk County Council

In restorations in the 1950s a slightly smaller replacement fantail was made, but this did not matter as the sails and windmill cap no longer turned.

In the early 1980s, further restoration work enabled the cap and sails to turn once again, retaining the smaller fantail.

However, it was damaged beyond repair in gales in March 2021 and it was decided to build a new fantail of similar size and appearance to the original.

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The new fantail is two feet bigger in diameter than the one it replaces, and the blades are painted dark green as they were in the 1930s.

The work cost £14,300 and was carried out by Bill Griffiths of MillBill millwrights in Ipswich, who remembers the landmark from living in Woodbridge as a child.

He said: “Buttrum’s was one of the first mills to catch my attention aged about seven years old, so it has been immensely satisfying, some 55 years later, to be responsible for the latest phase of works required to maintain the mill in good safe order.

“It is fantastic that the council had the foresight in the 1950’s to take responsibility for the ongoing maintenance of the mill.”

Most of the mill’s mechanism remains intact, although this would require an extensive overhaul if it were ever to produce flour again.

Councillor Melanie Vigo Di Gallidoro, Suffolk County Council deputy cabinet member for protected landscapes and archaeology, said: “Buttrum’s Mill is a well-known and much cherished part of the Suffolk landscape.

The new fantail is slotted into place

The new fantail is slotted into place - Credit: Suffolk County Council

“As the mill’s custodians the council is delighted to have played its part in restoring this key feature so that the mill resembles how it looked in its heyday and can be enjoyed by future generations.”

The mill is in the grounds of a house built for the miller’s family and now owned and lived in by Nancy Waters, partner Henry Palmer, and their two children.