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Norfolk's Denver Mill gets its new sails

PUBLISHED: 15:12 29 April 2010 | UPDATED: 11:43 08 July 2010

David Blackmore

People passing a historic mill yesterday would have been forgiven for thinking they had travelled back in time to the 19th century. In a reminder of a bygone age when windmills ruled the skyline, Denver Mill was given a new lease of life with to new sails being installed.

People passing a historic mill yesterday would have been forgiven for thinking they had travelled back in time to the 19th century.

In a reminder of a bygone age when windmills ruled the skyline, Denver Mill was given a new lease of life with two new sails being installed.

The iconic landmark, one of the country's last working windmills , had two “rotten and dangerous” sails removed last June - leaving the mill virtually redundant - but now the tourist attraction could run at full power again by the weekend.

Mark and Lindsay Abel, who rent the six storey building from the Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust (NHBT), spoke of their delight yesterday afternoon while watching the mill receiving the facelift.

Grinning from ear to ear, Mrs Abel, said: “It's absolutely fantastic. We have been waiting almost a year and it's great to see it looking like a windmill again.

“It's so exciting to see it looking pretty again because it had looked strange only having two sails and anyone driving past here must have thought this was just another broken windmill.

“These two new sails are going to make a huge difference and bring the windmill to life.”

Mr Abel added: “There hasn't been a day go past since the rotten and dangerous sails came down without someone asking what was happening and if we were closing.

“To have a full set of sails again is brilliant. We want to get the shutters in place by the weekend and then we can start running at full power again. There is nothing like the smell and sound once it's going.”

Denver Mill has towered over the Fens south of Downham Market since 1835. The windmill was given to the county in 1969 and sold to the NHBT by Norfolk County Council before the Abels took over the mill complex in 2008 to promote and preserve traditional country life.

Millwright Vincent Pargeter carried out the dangerous job of putting the sails in place after strapping himself to the frames and being lifted 50 foot in the air by crane.

He said: “I wasn't too worried up there. It was a lot safer than it looks.”

He added: “It is great to be working on a mill that actually works and grinds because most are just for appearance only.”

Passers-by Brian and Ann Smith, from King's Lynn, were delighted to see the windmill being brought back to life.

Mrs Smith said: “It's great to see a working mill being put back in order. It's a great tourist attraction and when we brought our grandchildren here they loved it.

“This windmill is part of the county's heritage so it's lovely to see this all happening.”

NHBT chairman John Birkbeck said the new sails were installed as part of ongoing £100,000 works to revamp the mill.

He added: “We are about to agree with the millwright to spend money repairing the shutters on the other two sails, which need tightening.

“The next big project is the outside of the mill. The render keeps coming off so we will have to do a lot more work to the tower in the future.”

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