300-year-old windmill gets new sweeps and stocks

  • Video report by ITV News Meridian's Richard Slee

Sitting high on a hill, the windmill at Bembridge is the last one of eight that used to produce flour on the Isle of Wight.   

During most of lockdown the building was closed to the public, but the National Trust has been making good use of that time by replacing the sweeps and stocks: the timber frames that would normally hold the canvas sails.  

This was a working windmill for two hundred years, until the outbreak of the first world war, but then it never returned to service. 

  • Kathryn Wilson, National Trust

Kathryn Wilson, from the National Trust, says: "It is a grade one listed building and it's our duty to take case of it, to protect it and maintain it and also preserve it for generations to come".

  • Richard gets a lesson in making flour

Due to it's small size the mill didn't make a lot of money, and that's why over the years it wasn't updated with more modern machinery.

So nearly everything you see inside this windmill was here when it was built

Kathryn says: "When you think that these days you have all the computers and all that sort of thing, they didn't have that in those days and yet there is so much precision for all those cogs to fit in together for it to work".

The cost of the new sweeps was covered by a government grant and local fundraising. Credit: ITV News Meridian

The cost of the new sweeps was covered by a government grant and local fundraising, including help from the Bembridge Men In Sheds.

They used the old wood from the sweeps and stocks to make items to sell.  

When they caught wind of the news and found out there wasn't a plan for the old sweeps, they had a grand idea.

  • John Sparrow, Bembridge Men in Sheds

John Sparrow, says: "Well when we heard that all this wood was coming off the windmill we thought well surely there is a way we can put it to good use and raise some money".

"We also heard that otherwise it was going to be burned, so we though that would be a terrible waste, so that was our spur to get busy and devise some things to make".

The National Trust also relies on entry fees to fund this sort of renovation and maintain the windmill and with the easing of lockdown visitors are beginning to return.