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Environment, Leisure

Brixton Windmill project takes big step forward

Plans to open Brixton’s historic windmill to the public have moved forward this week after Lambeth Council appointed a contractor to do the work.

In March local residents working with Lambeth Council received the news that a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for almost £400,000 to restore the Brixton Windmill had been successful. Friends of Windmill Gardens have been campaigning with Lambeth Council for a number of years to have the building restored, and the project will ensure it is maintained for future generations.

The windmill is the only surviving windmill in inner London and dates from 1816. Brixton Windmill is an unusual Grade II* listed building and one of only two such structures surviving in the old County of London. Built in 1816, it was owned by successive generations of one family, Ashby and Sons, Millers of Brixton Hill, until it ceased production in 1934. Currently, the interior is not accessible to the public but this will be put right by the restoration. A programme of educational activities will be organised and an audio-visual presentation on the ground floor will show the mechanical parts of the mill in operation. Lambeth Council this week  appointed Stonewest Ltd to start the refurbishment work.

Councillor Florence Nosegbe, Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and the 2012 Olympic Games on Lambeth Council, said: “It’s great news that we are moving forward with this project, which would not be happening without the drive and determination of the Friends of Windmill Gardens who have worked so hard to make this a reality, and we are thrilled to be able to help top up the HLF award so that this project can go ahead.”

“Brixton Windmill has a unique history and is the sole surviving windmill in inner London so it’s vital it is preserved for future generations and its story is shared.

“The contract award is an important step that will allow us to start conservation work to the mill equipment, including repairs to the sails and the original stone and furniture inside the mill, as well as the installation of audio-visual equipment that will be used to help bring its story alive to visitors.”

Jean Kerrigan, chair of Friends of Windmill Gardens (FoWG) said: “Local residents are really excited that the restoration work is finally starting. We have worked hard for this moment and look forward to next spring when Brixton Windmill opens to the public, its great sails are turning again, and local residents – particularly our children – will see flour ground on the fully refurbished provender mill.

“Throughout the restoration period FoWG will be organizing regular activities including training a team of volunteer guides. To find out more, or to volunteer as a guide, visit www.brixtonwindmill.org where you can link to our restoration blog giving daily reports and photographs of the project. Members old and new are invited to our next general meeting and Christmas social on 2 December.”

The total cost of the restoration and education project is £581,000. The HLF has contributed £397,750 with the remainder coming from the council and the Friends of Windmill Gardens.

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