Author: Liz Bartram & Dennis Coombs
What follows is an update on restoration progress at Upminster Windmill from the Chairman of the Friends of Upminster Windmill, Dennis Coombs. While the mill itself will remain closed to the public until 2018 while the restoration work takes place to bring it to full working order (the Visitor Centre is scheduled to open in April 2017), there are opportunities to watch some of the activities, as Dennis goes on to explain.
Photos are provided courtesy of the Friends of Upminster Windmill, who are a Heritage Partner.
Education and Training Centre
Work is progressing well on the building of the new Education and Training Centre. The main structure is now in place and the roof has been covered. Completion of the building is still expected during the summer, after which we will equip the training area and install the education equipment. Formal opening to the public will be in April 2017.
The above photo shows the Education and Training Centre being constructed.
Work on the restoration of the Mill is also imminent. The millwright, Willem Dijkstra, has been busy preparing for the first key task, removal of the sails, fantail and cap for refurbishment in his workshop in Holland.
The sails and fantail are scheduled to be removed on Thursday 26 May, followed by the removal of the cap on Friday 27 May, though both are dependent on weather conditions. The combined weight has been estimated at some 15 tons so this is clearly a formidable task.
The sails and the fantail have been removed and replaced several times but this will be the first removal of the entire cap since the Mill was built in 1803. Removal of the cap will include the removal of the long windshaft and the large brakewheel. We know that the windshaft was replaced in 1901 as we have a photograph of the work in progress. This is probably the earliest photo of such work, which was undertaken without the benefit of a crane.
During the following week, probably on Tuesday 31 May, the curb (the large circular rim at the top of the smock tower) will be removed and a temporary roof added to the Mill. The field will be open to enable viewing of the activity, though it will be necessary to restrict this to a safe distance.
During the following two weeks, all the removed components will be dismantled at ground level ready to be shipped to the workshop for refurbishment. After that, we will not see major activity on the site until the autumn, when the gallery will be removed and scaffolding will be erected to enable repairs to the Mill’s structure.
If you would like to find out more about Upminster Windmill, why not visit their website?