Our repair project at Kibworth Harcourt Mill
8-9 May is National Mills Weekend. Tag us in on social media to celebrate traditional wind and watermills. Repairs to our windmill in Leicestershire will begin this summer, returning it to working order for the first time since the 1930s.
There were once over 200 post mills in Leicestershire. Now our windmill at Kibworth Harcourt is the only surviving example in the county, an important part of our milling heritage. It’s a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Grade II* listed building.
The majority of the mill dates back to 1711 or earlier and its interior is covered with the graffiti of millers from the past. It was a working flour mill until 1912 when its condition began to decline. By 1936 it had fallen into dereliction and Merton College Oxford, who owned the mill, asked that the SPAB take the building into its care. This was a time when many traditional mills were disappearing from the landscape. In response the SPAB launched a campaign to save Britain’s surviving windmills, and in 1931 formed our mills committee; the start of our Mills Section. We carried out remedial works to the structure in 1936 and again in 1970. Now further repairs are urgently needed, and, after preliminary works, a six-month project will start in August 2021.
The mill in 1934. Credit: The Mills Archive Trust / Stanley Freese
A post mill is the earliest type of traditional windmill found in the UK. The weight of the mill rests on a single post, allowing the mill to be turned to face the wind. The post is supported by a trestle which sits on brick piers. At Kibworth, the trestle is enclosed in a brick roundhouse.
Kibworth Harcout mill today, before works begin. Credit: SPAB
So what will the new programme of works involve? The millwrights, Dorothea Restorations, will raise the body the mill so the trestle can be repaired. Following this, new weatherboarding will be fitted, carefully keeping the original interior weatherboarding, and retaining all the original graffiti. New common and spring sails will be made, new exterior steps and tailpole fitted, as well as work to the internal machinery. Our millwright Fellow Toby Slater will also be working on the repair of the mill.
When the repairs are finished, the mill at Kibworth Harcourt will become operational for the first time since the 1930s. This expert work will be costly and is only possible through a generous legacy left to the SPAB for mill repair. If you are able to, please help with a donation to support our work. Find out more about the project.
8-9 May is National Mills Weekend. Join us on social media and tag us in your mill photos on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. You can also enjoy a takeover on our Instagram stories from SPAB Fellow millwright Karl Grevatt at his beautiful watermill at Charlecote, Warwickshire. Read a blog by Karl about the impact of the Fellowship on his career.
Tile image of Kibworth mill courtesy of the Mills Archive Trust
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