New life for old mills

Published: 6th May, 2022

For a second year running we have collaborated with Norfolk Windmills Trust to celebrate National Mills Weekend 2022 (7th & 8th May 2022). For the theme of ‘Breathing new life into mills’ we wanted to reflect on all the fantastic work that we were able to achieve restoring the iconic drainage mills of the Broads throughout 2021 and into 2022 by taking an up close look at four individual Mills.

We also wanted to take this opportunity to put the spotlight on our two Heritage Skills apprentices who have worked so tirelessly to give these mills some much needed love and care.

Our two Heritage Skills apprentices with their awards from Norfolk Constructing Excellence Club.

Another HUGE congratulations to our Heritage Carpenter, Tom, who has won the Construction Apprentice of the Year at City College, Norwich! Its fantastic to see such great work being recognised for all his efforts to restore our iconic Windpumps.

Our Heritage Carpenter, Tom by James Bass

Six Mile House Mill, Runham

We began to work on 6 Mile House Mill at the very end of 2019, but work slowed down greatly in 2020 due to the first lockdowns during the pandemic. We were finally able to complete our works in the spring of 2021, and what a change it is on both the inside an out. The vast majority of this work was completed by our two apprentices under the direction of our Heritage Skills Project Manager. Their hard work over the course of the project was recognised by the Norfolk Constructing Excellence Club with a First Place win in the category of Preservation and Rejuvenation and a Second Place finish in Norfolk over-all. They were then further recognised by winning the Conservation and Regeneration category in the East of England. Their work has now gone to the national awards, being held in London in January 2022.

Six Mile House in 2021 vs 2013

Brand new bat boxes have also been installed at Six mile house giving the mills a new purpose, a home for bats! Read more about our new bat boxes here.

Six Mile House can be accessed via a Public Footpath that runs along the banks of the River Bure which can be accessed via Stracey Arms Mill Car Park. This Sunday (8th May 2022) Stracey Arms Mill (NR13 3QE) will be open to the public from 2pm until 5 pm where you can get the chance to see the mill up close but also a chance to get to see Six Mile house by walking along the footpath east, which to the mill and back again is roughly around 3 miles. See map below which can be downloaded as a PDF here.

High’s Mill, Halvergate

We began our work to restore High’s Mill in the spring of 2021. High’s Mill is unique on Halvergate. It was one of the last remaining mills to still be winded using its tail-pole, and is much smaller than many of the other brick tower mills of later, improved designs. Before we started work, there was very little to speak of structurally inside the mill and the raceway was in danger of being destroyed by overgrown vegetation that had taken root around the bottom courses of bricks. Now the Mill has two brand new floors, ladders, doors, window, and much more. It has been repainted with a tar-substitute on the tower and white linseed paint on the timber works.

Before and After, 2020 to 2021. On the left is a derelict structure covered in yellow and green lichen with missing windows. On the right is the repaired mill, painted black with a bright white door in the middle with a small hatch window above it.

Similar to Six Mile House, High’s Mill has also had new Bat boxes installed to give a new purpose to these aging structures.

Highs Mill  can be accessed via a small parking area just outside of Halvergate Village, following the Branch Road off of the Acle Straight. The nearest postcode is NR13 3GX. See map below which can also be downloaded as a PDF here.

Mutton’s Mill, Halvergate

This Autumn we began our works at Mutton’s Mill on Halvergate Marshes. Scaffolding is up around the mill and the cap, the site has been prepped and repairs are now underway. We’re anticipating that works will take around 12 months and they include restoring the brick tower, restoring the cap and fan stage as well as fabricating and installing an additional pair of sails to the mill.

Top: Scaffolding now around Mutton’s Mill. Bottom: Mutton’s with its two sails in early 2021.

Muttons’ Mill can also be accessed via the Weavers’ Way from the same parking area on Stone Road as seen on the overview map above.

Stracey Arms Mill, Halvergate

The Mill and the Marsh Folk project to restore Stracey Arms Drainage Mill began in earnest in 2018 with the removal of the decayed cap. It was removed to the yard of the Norfolk millwright Richard Seago where it was lovingly restored. It returned to site in October 2021 where it was rebuilt before being lifted back on to the tower in December 2021 (watch the work being carried out on Norfolk Windmill Trust’s YouTube channel here).

Stracey Arms mill restored cap

External brickwork has been repointed, internal render applied and repairs to the waterlane have also been carried out. Work is still in progress. The mill will receive a new set of sails and new interpretation telling the story of the mill, the families that ran it, and the significance of the Halvergate Marshes is also being prepared.

Stracey Arms mill before and after

This Sunday (8th May 2022) Stracey Arms Mill (NR13 3QE) will be open to the public from 2pm until 5 pm where you can get the chance to see the mill up close. The mill stands on the south bank of the River Bure between Great Yarmouth and Acle. There is mooring for boats and parking for cars at the Stracey Arms Mill Shop and Tearooms.

How to get to Stracey Arms

For more actions shots and images watch the Norfolk Windmills Trust ‘Breathing New life into Halvergate’s Mills’ YouTube video here.

All made possible by @HeritageFundUK