County Hall gets the sails turning on Cranbrook’s iconic windmill

Cranbrook Windmill

The sails of Cranbrook’s 19th century windmill can be seen on the skyline of the village again, after a 15-month refurbishment by Kent County Council (KCC).

Four new ‘sweeps’ of over 30 feet have been re-installed on the 72-foot tall windmill, and the mill will soon be able to use the power of the wind to grind flour.

Built in 1814, this is Britain’s tallest ‘smock mill’, so-called because of the painted wooden tower which was said to look like the traditional garment worn in rural areas.

The sweeps each contain 66 wooden shutters used to adjust the flow of the wind and therefore the speed of the mill, which were made and installed by a firm in East Suffolk.

‘Millwright’ Tim Whiting said: “We are proud to have been involved with the restoration of KCC’s flagship smock mill. My team has worked hard but their efforts have paid off – the sight of the completed mill is truly stunning.”

KCC took over care of the windmill in 1958.

KCC Conservation Officer Luke Bonwick, who supervised the project, said: “Collaborative working has been key to the success of this project. Co-operation between local residents and volunteers, our brilliant contractors and KCC’s Heritage Conservation and Infrastructure teams has delivered the spectacular results you can see today.”

Cllr Susan Carey, cabinet member for environment said: “Cranbrook Mill is a beautiful building and an important part of Kent’s heritage.”

Cranbrook and Sissinghurst Parish Council chairman Kim Fletcher said: “Residents will be delighted to have our windmill back in full sail.

“Even while it was naked, it has been floodlit as a Christmas tree and with the Ukrainian flag, but to have it back as one of the iconic sights of our town is great news.

“We urge visitors to come to see the mill in all its glory, along with our 13th century church, which is known as our Cathedral in the Weald, and the museum that houses our collection of Cranbrook Colony paintings as well as local history,” she added.

There will be an official ceremony to re-open the mill September 7, but it remains open to visitors at weekends and on other days during the summer.

The windmill is one of the attractions open on Heritage Open Days next month (September 10-11 at 2:30-5pm), when volunteers will try to turn the sweeps, depending on weather conditions, and hope to offer visitors the chance to make their own flour.

Open dates available

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