Fulbourn Windmill, Cambridgeshire

Built in 1808, Fulbourn Mill is an octagonal smock mill with 3 sets of millstones, standing about four miles East of Cambridge. The Mill closed in 1937 and fell into a state of disrepair. A major restoration programme during the 1980s and 1990s successfully saved and restored this local landmark.

Unfortunately, in 2013 extensive rot was discovered in the sails and fantail, putting all these components at significant danger of collapsing. The required repair work was beyond the capabilities of the small band of support volunteers and so millwright Paul Kemp was engaged to lead a programme to rebuild all four sails, and to replace the former mock fantail with one replicating the original and capable of turning the cap to wind with fully refurbished winding gear. As ever with projects of this nature, the replacement of the fantail proved more complex than anticipated as it became apparent that much of the staging for the fantail was also suffering from significant weather damage and needed replacement.

Unable to remove the whole fantail assembly in its entirety, with Paul Kemp’s expertise individual components of the fantail, drive gear and staging were removed and either replaced or refurbished.

In May 2016, with a crane on site to fit the second pair of sails, the refurbished fan shaft and hub were lifted into position. Reassembly of the fantail and staging then took place in situ with the new fantail successfully completed by July 2016.

Restoration projects of this nature are never straightforward nor cheap. The owners of Fulbourn Mill, Dr and Mrs Ian Harrison, were therefore very grateful for the grant received from the SPAB Mills Section towards the cost of the restoration of the fantail.

The next stage will be to address issues in order to achieve the goal of being able to allow the sails and cap to turn freely. And then…? Hopefully one day to be able to grind some flour!

Ian Harrison
July 2017