Damaged Windmill Grinds to a Halt
Downfields windmill, previously in working order, was open as a tourist attraction until it suffered massive storm damage in January and February of 2001. It was also damaged in a storm back in 1889 and rebuilt, but this time there was not the financial backing to restore the 18th Century listed building. Gaynor Roberts, of English Heritage, said: "Two of the sails were lost in the storm as well as the fan sails. The other two sails are in bad condition, not to mention the brick work and windows. Architects have reported that to repair the windmill would cost around £100,000."
The building has been eligible for grant aid for many years and has been on the English Heritage Buildings At Risk list since the storm damage in 2001. The annually published list which aims to identify buildings at risk through neglect and decay, or vulnerable to becoming so. After many applications for grant aid over the years, the mill was finally awarded £100,000 by English Heritage in May 2012 to help restore it to its former glory. Repair work is due to start in August 2012 and be completed within 16 months. There is no reason as to why Downfield Windmill shouldn't be up and running again for tourists and school parties to visit in the not too distant future. The part-occupied, privately owned windmill is among the top eight per cent of the most important buildings in the country. The mill, also known as Pollards Mill, was originally built in 1726. Ina Kite has owned the windmill since 1996. Her son Andrew said: "It's certainly one of the oldest and most unusual buildings in the county."
Black & White Photographs of Soham Windmills Courtesy of Kent University