Urgent repairs for Norfolk Broads windmill damaged during stormy weather

PUBLISHED: 14:41 03 September 2014 | UPDATED: 14:41 03 September 2014

Sutton Mill. Pictures by Alan Marshall.

Sutton Mill. Pictures by Alan Marshall.


One of the tallest windmills in Norfolk is being made safe nine months after it was battered by winter storms.

Sutton Mill. Pictures by Alan Marshall.Sutton Mill. Pictures by Alan Marshall.

The nine-storey high Sutton Mill, near Stalham, was damaged last December. Local residents called for urgent repairs after chunks of timber flew off the cap and landed in neighbouring gardens.

This week’s calmer weather meant millwrights could finally climb to the top of the 79.5ft tall structure to remove the damaged cap.

Workmen have removed the 14ft lengths of timber piece by piece and will, in the coming days, install a temporary flat top in its place.

Alan Marshall, who lives next door to the grade two-listed landmark, hopes the removal of the cap timbers could be the first step towards full refurbishment.

A brief history

• Sutton Mill, one of the tallest in the UK, was built in 1789, with eight floors.

• It was rebuilt after a fire in 1861 an additional floor.

• It was topped by a traditional Norfolk boat-shaped cap.

• The height to the top of the cap was almost 80ft.

• The mill was also hit by lightning on in July 1875 at 4pm with the lightning bolt hitting one of the sails and then passing down through the centre of the mill via the sack chain.

• Some of the staff were within three feet of the chain at the time but escaped injury.

• It was hit again in 1940 when the sails were hit, causing a fire.

• The mill, which was then producing animal feed rather than corn, ceased to work from that time.

• In 1975 it was bought by Chris Nunn as part of the Broads museum he created.

• In 2006 he sold it to Yesterday’s World, who shut it two years later.

Complete restoration is expected to cost thousands of pounds but North Norfolk District Council and the mill’s private owner have pledged to protect the structure, which is on the county council’s buildings-at-risk register, as best they can.

“There’s a fair amount of interest from residents not to let the mill fall to rack and ruin,” said Mr Marshall.

“It would be desperately sad if it ended up is disrepair.

“The temporary cap is not the most elegant solution but it will keep the weather out. We’re hoping that someone will make a new cap and it will eventually be fully repaired.”

When the mill become unsafe, the district council closed the public footpath running alongside to protect the public from any further falling timber. The mill was originally built in 1789 and rebuilt in 1859 after a fire.

For 30 years, it was run as Sutton Windmill and Broads Museum run by Chris Nunn who used it to house a huge collection of bygone artefacts.

In 2006, it was purchased by historical attractions company Yesterday’s World but they shut the mill and museum in 2008, saying it was unviable.

In 2012, many of the museum artefacts were sold at auction.

The mill is now in private ownership. The repairs taking place this week are being carried out in conjunction with the owner, who, the council previously confirmed, is paying for the work.

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