‘It has been a privilege’: Couple who restored historic windmill put it up for sale for £1m
PUBLISHED: 07:02 11 October 2020 | UPDATED: 08:42 12 October 2020
The owners of one of Norfolk’s landmarks are selling it for £1m after years of work to get its sails turning again.
Roger and Andrea Hough tried to sell Stow Mill, Paston, near North Walsham, back in 2013 after buying it in 1999. Their dream was to see the sails of the windmill, built in 1825-27 to make flour, turn again and to preserve it for the future.
When potential buyers were put off the prospect of the major restoration required, the couple decided to take it off the market and do it themselves. They are now selling it in full working order and financially viable after converting the mill into a one-bedroom holiday let.
Mr Hough told this newspaper: “The reason we are now selling is because my wife and I are both over 70 years of age and we feel that it is the right time to ‘let go’ and hand over Stow Mill to someone younger. We have done our bit, we think. We have looked after Stow Mill for 21 years and it has been a privilege.
“The windmill is now in a very good and sound state throughout structurally and restored again to working condition. This does not mean it can now once again produce flour, but it means as a windmill it functions automatically by wind power. This is the absolute requirement for windmills and it is the first time this windmill is able to do this for nearly 100 years.”
Windmills are a major part of Norfolk’s heritage and landscape but expensive to restore; recently a historic windmill in Dereham failed to secure £400,000 in funding for repairs.
Mr Hough said: “It has taken us nearly five years to complete the transformation of Stow Mill and that was after many years of trying to find ways to give the mill a viable future. Initially, we tried to keep it as a mill open to the public. We provided a service with a shop, parking and access into the mill for a small voluntary fee.
“The conversion of the mill to a holiday let and the restoration to working order has cost a great deal of money. It was not a case of a few thousand pounds, by any means. The mill remains unspoilt structurally, it works and now provides an incredible living space. It can now provide for itself financially.”
Agents William H Brown are selling the property which includes a three/four bedroom cottage and the windmill. They describe it, saying: “This is a rare opportunity to purchase not just the landmark building but a successful holiday let in a delightful part of North Norfolk.”
History of Stow Mill
The mill was built as a flour mill between 1825-1827 by James Gaze. There was another mill at Paston, a smock mill owned by Thomas Sadler, but it was demolished in 1840. James Gaze’s son Thomas was the miller at Stow Mill for 45 years until his death in 1872, and the mill was taken on by his son William, who milled until he died 1906. It was unusual in that it was designed from the start to look scenic, even to the extent of having dummy windows on each of the upper floors.
It was bought by Ann Harper and taken on by tenant Thomas Livermore, who worked in it until 1930, when milling came to an end at Stow.
It passed through a number of hands including, briefly, Norfolk County Council, but efforts to restore it to working order proved too expensive.
A comprehensive history of the windmill can be found at the www.norfolkmills.co.uk website
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