Watch timelapse video of Horsey Mill restoration

The delicate operation of removing the white cap off Horsey Windpump gets underway as part of the Na

The delicate operation of removing the white cap off Horsey Windpump gets underway as part of the National Trust's renovation project to restore the Norfolk landmark to its former glory. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

It is one of Norfolk's most recognisable landmarks rising out of the flatlands of the Broads.

The delicate operation of removing the white cap off Horsey Windpump gets underway as part of the Na

The delicate operation of removing the white cap off Horsey Windpump gets underway as part of the National Trust's renovation project to restore the Norfolk landmark to its former glory. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

But Horsey Mill cuts a forlorn figure without its cap and sails as it sits stoically by the roadside.

For anyone involved in mill restoration, removing seven tonnes of rotten topper and machinery is just about the most complex and difficult job you could ever expect to carry out. And at the scenic spot yesterday it was edge-of-the-seat stuff for everyone watching as two years of precision planning swung into action.

Millwright Tim Whiting said he had suffered many sleepless nights in the run-up to the big lift – staged in beautiful sunshine, the weather providing a helping hand for once.

National Trust project manager Paul Coleman said the operation was the first part of a £244,000 restoration scheme to bring the mill back into working order.

Having been successfully removed, the cap will be taken to Mr Whiting's workshop in Saxmundham where it will be rebuilt and refurbished ready to be lowered back into place in a similarly nail-biting manoeuvre in around a year's time.

Under the plan, the cap will 'turn in the wind' for the first time for decades, having been stubbornly stuck for many years.

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Horsey Mill dates from 1912 and is one of the few accessible examples which people can visit to learn more about industrial heritage. From its wind-blown spot, around six are visible, none with sails, with motorists travelling along the Acle Straight likely to spot at least 15.

Once restored, Horsey will be able to demonstrate to visitors how it worked the watery landscape and be among the most spectacular survivors of the windpump age.

It will be closed for the summer, although the tea shop will be open and there will be displays telling people about the project.

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