Historic mills are under threat in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire and in need of help
PUBLISHED: 06:30 20 October 2015 | UPDATED: 09:43 20 October 2015
Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011
Hundreds of thousands of pounds could be pumped into the region's wind and water mills because of the threat to their future.
According to Historic England’s heritage at risk register 2015, mills are the most endangered items in this region’s vast heritage collection.
They are among 30 buildings, churches and conservation areas from across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire which have been added to the list this year.
Around 41pc of mills at risk nationally are in this part of the country, and Historic England has pledged to address the problem with a survey to check every mill’s condition and take action.
Those in danger in this region are: Sutton Mill, near Stalham; Denver Mill, near Downham Market; Burgh Mill and Kersey Mill, both in Suffolk; Little Chishill Mill, in Cambridgeshire; and the post mill in Drinkstone, near Bury St Edmunds.
Greg Luton, planning director for Historic England in the East of England, said: “This year’s national register gives us the most complete overview of the state of our nation’s heritage to date.
“Historic mills help characterise our region and make it special, and are one of the types of heritage sites most at risk. If they’re lost, then a sense of an important part of the history of the East of England is lost too. Together, we aim to safeguard our most precious places and buildings for future generations.”
For the fist time, a survey of all mills is set to be carried out across the east to assess the condition of each mill and decide which ones need cash and guidance from heritage experts.
Mills were a key part of the region’s landscape and industry for both grinding corn and flour and drainage on the Norfolk Broads.
The decision on the Landscape Partnership Bid, submitted by the Broads Authority to carry out a £4.5m programme across the waterways, is due later this month.
A key part of that scheme is to work with Easton and Otley College to equip construction students with the skills to work on heritage buildings, such as the precious Broads drainage mills.
Ben Hogg, historic environment manager at the Broads Authority, said Historic England’s vision to revive more mills would complement the project and enhance areas of the Broads.
“East Anglia is the capital of windmills and the Broads landscape is particularly plentiful,” he said.
“They are a vital element of our built heritage so it is pleasing to see more mills in the region recognised as being valuable and worthy of funding and protection.”
Aside from mills, Norfolk has this year seen nine Grade I places of worship added to the register as congregations face a combination of failing roofs, broken gutters and downpipes and damage to high level stone and brickwork.
They include Church of St Mary in Banham, Church of St Edmund in Costessey and Church of St Mary in Reepham.
Grade II* Denver Hall in west Norfolk, a late medieval manor house with original and unusual 16th century features, has been highlighted for urgent roof repairs.
It too has been added to the register.
A grant has also been awarded for repairs to the late medieval gatehouse on the site. And the remains of St Mary’s Friary, in Little Walsingham and Panxworth church tower, pictured, near South Walsham, are among the 47 removed from the list across the three counties.
RAF Coltishall comes off the ‘at risk’ register
The former RAF Coltishall base has been removed from Historic England’s heritage at risk register.
Norfolk County Council bought the site from the Ministry of Justice for £4m in 2013 in a bad state. The landscape was overgrown and many of the buildings had leaking roofs, broken windows and were in urgent need of repairs.
Now two scheduled monuments and several locally listed buildings on the site have been repaired as part of the site’s transformation into Scottow Enterprise Park. The park is now home to 14 businesses and 11 former airfield buildings have
been brought back into use.
George Nobbs, leader of the county council, said: “Coming off the ‘at-risk’ register not only means we’ve made significant progress and that Historic England thinks that it’s in good hands, but that it will also hopefully act as a stimulus for people to visit and operate at the site.”
£172,000 restoration saves Britons Arms
A historic building has been brought back from the brink after a £172,000 grant from Historic England.
The Britons Arms, which escaped destruction in 1507 when a great fire wiped out 700 properties across the city, has been taken off Historic England’s at risk register after lengthy repairs.
The restoration – which included roof and timber frame repairs and damp problems resolved – has been welcomed by sisters Sue Skipper and Gilly Mixer who run the cafe there.
Ms Skipper, 64, said: “We feel a real sense of achievement that the building is now off the ‘at-risk’ register.
“This building is a heritage asset. It was a heritage responsibility and a burden.”
She said before the building went on the list, there were question marks over the viability of the business because of the structural problems. Now, she said, they had a building that was fully revived.
The 15th century building had many uses over the years including a barber surgeon’s shop and a warehouse. It was the subject of a fierce campaign in 2011 after Norwich City Council tried to sell it as funds were low.
It was eventually agreed that a long lease would be given to Norwich Preservation Trust, with repairs funded by Historic England.