Big boost for project to revive Dereham’s old windmill
07:00 15 September 2012
© Archant Norfolk 2012
The dream of seeing Dereham’s windmill open again took a big step towards coming true when almost £50,000 was presented to pay for two phases of renovation work.
The 42-foot high, five-storey red brick mill was built in the 1830s but since its heyday has suffered deterioration and is currently shut.
Over the past year a new group of trustees has been working on a plan to revive the grade II listed building and a Friends group has been set up.
The first two phases of refurbishment will be able to start later this year thanks to a grant of nearly £50,000 from the Biffa Award scheme.
The cap needs to be restored so it can turn again and other work will be replacing flooring, windows, doors and making it weatherproof.
It is hoped the mill be re-opened by next autumn and one aim is for local school children to hold photography and art exhibitions in it.
The third phase - which could cost £100,000 - would involve the stocks being replaced and sails being put back on and creation of toilets and a coffee shop.
There has also been support from bodies including the Norfolk Windmills Trust, The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and Dereham Town Council.
The town council owns the windmill and leases it to the Friends.
The money was handed over during a presentation event in front of the mill yesterday attended by a range of supporters.
Brian Webb is chairman of the trustees and said: ”I am incredibly proud and this grant will secure Dereham Windmill and will allow future generations to enjoy this historic landmark.
“It looks sorry for itself at the moment and we want to do something about it.”
Head of fund-raising Alison Webb said they had done research which showed local support - especially from schools - to get the windmill re-opened.
“It is brilliant to get the money and will allow the work to start later this year.”
Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman was among the guests at the presentation and hopes the windmill can be a key part in attracting more visitors to the town.
“I would like to see Dereham put on the map as a destination of choice for heritage tourism.”
He said people could use the improved rail link between Cambridge and Wymondham and then get to Dereham on the Mid Norfolk Railway.
Mr Freeman said the heritage railway, town centre, Memorial Hall and windmill could all be part of the town’s attractions.
Cath Hare, Biffa Award acting programme manager, said: “It is vital to be able to preserve historic buildings like Dereham Windmill and ensure that they are open to the public so that people can learn about their local heritage.”