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scaffolding being dismantled

Image: Owen Llewellyn

The restoration

In 2007 a partnership agreement was established between the Council and the Friends of Windmill Gardens to oversee the restoration of Brixton Windmill and to develop a heritage education programme for the general public to enjoy.

In early 2008 Lambeth Council was awarded a Project Planning Grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to prepare a funding application to the HLF for restoration of the windmill. A joint funding bid between Lambeth Council and the Friends was submitted, and in 2010 the HLF awarded £397,700 towards the restoration of this unique building. This grant was combined with match funding from the Council and money raised by the Friends.

Restoration began in October 2010 and took seven months to complete. The windmill was completely overhauled, with specialist architects and contractors employed to undertake much of the work. The provender mill will now be powered by electricity so that it can be used in milling demonstrations, and the sails will once again be able to turn in the wind.

Here is some further detail about the restoration work:

reattaching the sails

Image: Owen Llewellyn

Sails

Brixton Windmill has four sails – two common sails and two patent sails.

The patent sails consist of wooden shutters that can be opened and closed, like Venetian blinds, by a system of rods and chains. They have been restored so that the sails will turn in the wind.

Clamps were added to strengthen the stocks (the wooden bars that support the sails) as they will be under greater force once they are turning again.

cap

Image: Owen Llewellyn

Cap

The cap was removed and repaired and will be protected from roosting birds. The winding mechanism for the mill sits inside the cap, and this was overhauled.

carpentry

Image: Owen Llewellyn

Tower

Windows and security grilles were repaired and replaced. Brickwork was repaired and the tower redecorated.

A new electrical supply, lighting and smoke detection on each level was installed as well as a telephone line and intruder alarm.

Floors, joists, beams and ceiling timbers were repaired, including the stairs and ladders, hatches and balustrades.

provender mill

Image: Owen Llewellyn

Provender mill

In the mid-19th century it became evident that the development of Brixton Hill was starting to impinge on the efficiency of the windmill. By the 1860s there was not enough wind to drive the windmill.

In 1902 a provender mill was installed on the first floor. At first it was powered by steam, then later converted to gas.

The provender mill has been restored to good working order and will be powered by electricity and used in grinding demonstrations for the public and school groups.

Sowing heritage wheat

Image: Nick Weedon

Gardens

The area around Brixton Windmill has been improved to allow greater accessibility to the building, including external lighting, power and water, and port-a-loo connections for events.

The Friends of Windmill Gardens have planted a medicinal herb garden as well as 30 square metres of heritage wheat and barley on the ridge behind the windmill.

Specialists involved

  • Dannatt, Johnson Architects were appointed to carry out restoration work on the windmill.
  • Millwrights Owlsworth IJP carried out the specialist restoration on the sails, provender mill, and cap.
  • Specialist restorer Stonewest Ltd (which has worked on some high-profile restoration projects, such as St Paul’s Cathedral) was responsible for the standard construction work – drains, electricity supply, doors and windows, gullies, and manholes.