More photos coming soon
Regular updates on the restoration progress are posted on the Windmill Project Blog.
The new windmill sails were fitted on Tuesday 10th December.
Click here for photos and a video. (on the Windmill Project Blog)
The mill will reopen to the public on Sunday 13th April 2014
The video above shows the sails turning. Watch in HD and in Full Screen for better picture quality.
At one time there were 4 windmills in Burwell. 2 were in the Toyse Lane area (Which is at the northern end of the village.) There is very little trace of these. Another mill stood near Newmarket Road. This mill became disused around the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century and was converted into a barn (it was reduced to 2 storeys and a thatched roof added to the remaining stump) This barn is still standing and is now part of a modern farm yard. It is privately owned and is not open to the public although it can be seen very clearly from the farm yard entrance (next to the Doctors Surgery). It is also visible from the 2nd floor of Stevens' Mill.
The 1 remaining mill is Stevens' Mill which is located next to the Museum.
Stevens' Mill was built around 1820. There may have been an older mill on the same site previously, but there are no accurate records to confirm this.
Stevens Mill some time in the 1920s to 1940s.
(Photo: Copyright English Heritage)
Stevens' Mill (sometimes incorrectly referred to as "Stephens" or "Steven's") was owned and run by several generations of the Stevens family (hence its name), producing flour and animal feeds, until the mid 1950s, when it closed. By this time the mill was only producing animal feeds for local farmers. The mill and the adjacent field were then sold to a local construction firm a few years later. The field was built on and became Mill Close.
The street may have had a different name if the developers had demolished the mill! Luckily there was a lot of opposition to the possible demolition and the fact that the mill was a Listed Building meant that the developers did not demolish it. They sold the mill to the local council who in turn sold it to a preservation trust.
The trust then started the enormous task of restoring the mill. The mill was in quite a bad state as about 15 years had passed since the mill closed and probably more than that since any maintenance was done.
The sails and fantail had rotted badly. The wooden cap had rotted away exposing the inside of the mill to the elements. Thankfully no major damage was caused to the inside of the mill apart from rotting the floorboards. The machinery and structural beams survived in fairly good condition.
The cap was rebuilt with an aluminium sheet skin instead of a wooden one (aluminium is virtually maintenance free). The aluminium soon weathered to a dull white colour - very close to the colour the old wooden cap was painted before the mill became derelict.
The internal woodwork was repaired and in the case of the floorboards replaced. The fantail was also rebuilt.
Up to this stage the restoration was mainly just standard carpentry work. The task of installing new sails was a major one. Unlike floorboards, these do not come ready made from the builders merchant!
The sails are made up of many pieces of wood with scores of nuts, bolts, hinges and iron rods. This is all attached to a very long and thick wooden post which is itself bolted to an even longer wooden post with another sail at the other end.
This larger post is attached at its centre to the windshaft which turns the gears inside the cap to power the machinery.
The length of a pair of sails from tip to tip is actually more than the height of the mill. As the sails are attached to the mill in the halfway point between each pair and over 40 feet above the ground the end of a sail at its lowest position is sightly above the height of the top of the doors on the ground floor.
A Burwell based firm of carpenters was given the job of making a pair of sails. Measurements were taken from what remained of the old sails and casts were taken of the surviving metal brackets and hinges to enable the new sails to be as close to the original ones as possible.
Due to their size the sails were actually made outside the firm's workshop just in case they were too big to get out of the building!
The new sails were eventually fitted to the mill in the late 1980s and cost around £15,000. This immense cost was the main reason only one pair were made.
The mill can work with just one pair of sails but would be much more efficient with its second pair. We do have plans to fit the 2nd pair of sails in the near future as part of the restoration project, but they will now cost up to £30,000.
The majority of the basic restoration was completed by the late 1980s, enabling the mill to be opened to the public once a month occasionally with working demonstration of milling.
The money for the early restoration of the mill came from English Heritage and local council grants. Money has also come from donations by visitors to the mill and the museum.
The mill is a Grade II* (Grade 2 star) Listed Building, the only one in Burwell.
A Trustee can briefly describe what happens on each floor of the Mill and will try to answer any questions you have.
Update - July 2010
The mill has now been added to the English Heritage Buildings at Risk register.
Click here for more info (Opens in a new window)
Article about the mill on the BBC Cambridgeshire website
Listen to the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire reporter chat to Paul Hawes, Museum Trust Chairman,
and Luke Bonwick, Consultant Millwright. Click the photo of the mill below.
Update August 18 2011 - Burwell Museum awarded Heritage Lottery Fund firstround
pass to repair historic windmill.
Burwell Museum in East Cambridgeshire has been awarded a £13 400
development grant and a first-round pass from the Heritage Lottery Fund to
conduct a project to repair and redisplay the Grade II* listed Stevens’
Windmill. This is a first step towards a larger grant from the HLF to deliver
For further information please see the Press Release
National Mills Weekend 2012 (Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th May 2012)
Due to the current condition of Stevens' Mill, the windmill adjacent to the museum entrance,
it will only be viewable from the outside.
On Sunday 13th May it may be possible for Museum Visitors (after paying for admission to the museum) to view the ground floor of the mill from the doorway (during normal Burwell Museum opening hours) by asking one of the Museum Trustees on duty that day.
Viewings will be strictly from the doorway only and visitors will not be permitted to enter the mill.
The museum (and mill) will not be open on Saturday 12th May.
Please see our Burwell Windmill Project brochure for details of the restoration plans
and how the mill will be operated once restoration is completed.
Click on the link or the picture above to open the brochure in full-screen. Click on a page to zoom in.
Press the "Esc" button on your keyboard to exit full-screen mode.
Please note that down the right-hand side of the full screen version there are adverts for other publications. These have no connection with the museum or the mill but allow ISSUU to provide a free version of their service. The windmill project brochure uses this free service.
If you would like to download a PDF version of the brochure please click here (5.2MB) Some web browsers may require you to right-click on the link and select "Save Link as...." or something similar.
Brochure and consultant service provided by Luke Bonwick of Bonwick Milling Heritage Consultancy
Visit our Windmill Project Blog
Burwell Museum has been awarded £417,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the exciting Fresh Wind in Our Sails project. The project aims to restore the Grade II* listed Stevens’ Windmill and integrate and improve the displays across the mill and museum as a whole. Work will begin in autumn 2012 and will be completed in 2015.
Read the full story on our Windmill Project Blog (click link above)
View the Planning Application for the restoration work (available between 7am and 12 midnight daily)
If you would like to make a donation towards the restoration of Stevens' Mill please go to the Donations page for details of how to do this
Click the photo below to see further photos from the Sails-Off day
See the Windmill Project Blog for information about what went on.
Photos by Luke Bonwick and Peter Heath
Video by Peter Heath
For viewing in HD and/or Full Screen click appropriate symbol on the bottom video border.