Historic Thelnetham Windmill near Diss to open over Easter period

Thelnetham Windmill. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Thelnetham Windmill. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2015

Its remote location means few people even know it exists.

Thelnetham Windmill. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Thelnetham Windmill. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2015

But off the beaten track along the Norfolk and Suffolk border is one of the most special reminders of our past, which has stood the test of time for almost 200 years.

And this year, Thelnetham Windmill will revive an old tradition when it once again sells stone ground flour fresh from the mill, just as it used to in the 19th century.

In the days before supermarkets and mass production factories, the red-brick tower mill on the edge of Thelnetham Fen, near Diss, was a vital source for feeding the population.

Government flour restrictions during the First World War put an end to its most profitable trade, which later deteriorated as a result of accidents and poor maintenance.

Thelnetham Windmill. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Thelnetham Windmill. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2015

Some of its owners used it at living accommodation and it was, at one stage, sold for residential purposes, without being converted from a windmill.

A group of mill enthusiasts bought it in 1979 and lovingly restored it to full working order over the next eight years, enabling it to produce flour for the first time in six decades.

Most Read

Taken over by the Suffolk Building Preservation Trust in 2013, it has undergone a series of improvements to make it a visitor attraction, including a new tea room and a rebuilt engine shed.

It is one of only four preserved tower mills in Suffolk, as well as one of the few windmills in East Anglia to be in full working order.

Thelnetham Windmill. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Thelnetham Windmill. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2015

But Bob Paterson, a spokesman for the mill – which was built in 1819 – said: 'We get a lot of people passing by and people who've never been aware of there being a windmill there.

'It's off the beaten track. It's not like Pakenham, where there water mill is visible from quite a way away.

'For us, it kind of heightens for more education that it does exist and that it's a real attraction.'

Organisers are holding a series of open days throughout 2017 to demonstrate the improvements, with a new granary being built during the year.

Thelnetham Windmill, pictured in August 1980. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Thelnetham Windmill, pictured in August 1980. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY - Credit: Archant

'There have been many improvements made at the mill in recent years and we are intensely proud to show it off to people who are interested in windmills, milling heritage or heritage in general,' Mr Paterson said.

'It's a special little windmill in many respects. It's a historic agricultural building.

'In the bigger picture, we've not got many left and there aren't that many left in the country that are in complete working order.

'It's probably not on the radar for many people.

'For those people into their milling heritage, it's well up there and well-known in the country – but not in the county.

'Generally speaking, people who visit are fascinated by how it all works. Children especially find it interesting – they assume flour comes from the supermarket.'

Thelnetham Windmill will be open on Easter Monday, April 17, the National Mills Weekend of May 13 and 14 and Bank Holiday Monday, May 29.

It also opens on Sunday, July 23, Bank Holiday Monday, August 28, Sunday, October 8 and during the national Heritage Open Weekend on Sunday, September 10.

The mill will be open between 11am and 4pm on each of those days, with the last admission for a mill tour at 3pm.

The sails will be turning on all days, wind permitting and there will be guided tours throughout the day.

The entrance fee is £3.50 for adults and £2 for children over five years old. Children aged under five can go in free but all children need to be accompanied by an adult.

Visitors are asked to note that access to the mill above the ground floor is unfortunately not possible for wheelchair users, due to the old nature of the building.

For more information, visit http://thelnethamwindmill.org.uk/

Have you got a story about South Norfolk's heritage? Contact reporter Andrew Papworth on andrew.papworth@archant.co.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter