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New life breathed into Wicklewood windmill

PUBLISHED: 06:30 27 January 2014

Hugh Slade at the restored Wicklewood Mill, before his presentation about the work. Picture: Denise Bradley

Hugh Slade at the restored Wicklewood Mill, before his presentation about the work. Picture: Denise Bradley

copyright: Archant 2014

For years it stood untouched while it slowly decayed into disrepair.

But now new life has been breathed into a historic windmill and on Sunday, people packed into a south Norfolk village hall to hear its story.

Built by Richard Mann in 1845, Wicklewood windmill last worked in 1942 and during its first 50 years, it was one of two mills in the village.

It was first refurbished back in the 1980s by John Lawn, a millwright from Caston, who was assisted by his father and Hugh Slade, who lived in the village.

But once the work was complete, dwindling visitor numbers meant that the listed 19th century building, which was used to grind the corn of local farmers, was once again abandoned and left to rot.

In 2005, a second attempt was made to bring the five-storey mill back to life and the stocks and sails were removed for repairs, following a programme of work to repair the cap and sails.

The cap was put back in 2006 with the help of a £10,000 grant from Waste Recycling Environmental and funding from the Norfolk Windmills Trust.

The sails were put back on in October 2012 and visitors were welcomed through the doors the following May.

Mr Slade, a volunteer with Norfolk Windmills Trust, organised open days through 2013 which helped to attract hundreds of visitors.

The retired wood turner, who has lived in the village for more than four decades, said: “Windmills are important because they are living history. Nobody is going to build a new windmill once it has gone.

“Last year, business was great. We had 700 visitors and we were expecting around 200. People have been fabulous and the youngsters enjoy it, too.

“Children love it because they can climb up to the top. The mill’s machinery is still in tact and people can see how they work.

“I retired six years ago and it has changed my life.”

Mr Slade also organised extra attractions alongside the windmill and during the summer, classic cars, tractors and emergency services vehicles were welcomed.

“We always try and do something to bring the crowds in,” Mr Slade added.

The windmill will be open to the public from 1pm until 4pm on the following Sundays: May 18, June 15, July 20, August 1 and September 21.

To view the mill at other times or for more information email or call 01953 602445.

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