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Video and photo gallery: Brave fundraisers abseil from Thurne Mill

PUBLISHED: 17:45 26 July 2014 | UPDATED: 10:39 27 July 2014

Abseiling from the top of Thurne Mill to raise vital funds for the windmill.

Picture: James Bass

Abseiling from the top of Thurne Mill to raise vital funds for the windmill. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2014

Almost 200 years after it was built, supporters of Thurne Mill have abseiled off the top to help keep the sails turning.

History of Thurne Dyke Mill

Thurne Mill was built in 1820 by millwrights England and Co, based at Ludham. Its job was to drain grazing land by pumping hundreds of gallons of water every minute into the River Thurne.

By the early 20th century it had fallen into disrepair but in 1947 local Bob Morse bought it from the internal drainage board. It wasn’t until 2002

that the wooden sails turned again.

The restoration was overseen by the Norfolk Windmills Trust who first leased the iconic mill in 1979, but in August will hand it back to Debra Nicholson who bought the property from her friend Mr Morse in 2007.

Mill owner Debra Nicholson estimates it will cost at least £10,000 a year to keep the iconic mill, built in 1820 to drain grazing land alongside the River Thurne, working and open to the public.

Throughout today, dozens of people climbed into harnesses and abseiled down the stunning white structure to help put money in the pot.

“The view from up there is amazing,” said Mrs Nicholson, who runs the Wind Energy Museum in neighbouring Repps.

“I’ve been up there hundreds of times but you always see something different.”

Abseiling from the top of Thurne Mill to raise vital funds for the windmill.
Mill owner Debra Nicholson who has organised the charity abseil on the way down.


Picture: James Bass Abseiling from the top of Thurne Mill to raise vital funds for the windmill. Mill owner Debra Nicholson who has organised the charity abseil on the way down. Picture: James Bass

Vick Smith, of Great Yarmouth, was nervous going over the edge, but “loved” the experience. She said: “It’s that moment as you step over; your body is telling you not to let go but if you listen to the instructor, you go for it. It was great.”

Fellow fundraiser Allison Hodder, of Martham, is not the biggest fan of heights and was “apprehensive” about being 15 metres from solid ground but, after touching down, said: “Fantastic. I’m signing up for next year.”

A number of youngsters brought along friends to take part in a teddy bear abseil.

Both abseils, for humans and soft toys, were run by Yarmouth firm AID Rope Access which provides training for offshore workers.

Mrs Nicholson hopes the event, now in its second year, will help keep Thurne Mill running.

Due to funding shortfalls, the Norfolk Windmills Trust – which previously leased and looked after the property since 1979 – will hand the keys back to Mrs Nicholson in August.

It costs £10,000 to repaint Thurne Mill, a task that should be undertaken every five years to keep it looking its best.

The money raised today will also be for ongoing maintenance such as greasing the iron turbine mechanisms once a month, as well as insurance and wider security should the mill break down or be damaged by gale-force winds that sweep across the Broads.

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