I have expressed a liking for windmills previously on this blog. Norfolk has many, varied in style and use. There is a very good one in Dereham, only three miles from where we live. It is situated in the middle of a modern housing estate, an incongruous location, courtesy of its status as a listed building. The developers built all around it, but were never able to get permission to demolish it.
It was built in 1836, and used as a mill until 1937, when it was closed. By the end of the Second World War, the building was derelict. After it was granted listed status in 1972, it was first taken over by Breckland Council, and then by Dereham Town Council. When no funding could be secured for its upkeep, it was boarded up, and left idle. In 2011, a local group formed the Dereham Windmill Trust, and began the process of applying for grants, and restoring the mill to its former glory. After much hard work, mostly by volunteers, it was opened as an attraction and historical exhibit to the public.
It is currently attracting a lot of interest, staging exhibitions, and there is work in progress to build a community hall with cafe and visitor toilets nearby. There are picnic benches around the grounds, and although the mill does not operate any longer for grinding grains, all the original workings can be seen inside. There are audio-visual presentations, and photographic exhibitions too, as well as seasonal events, including the Windmill Santa at Christmas. It is still run and maintained solely by volunteers, who give their time to welcome visitors, organise events, and to promote the windmill at shows and other meetings around the area.
Today, I became one of those volunteers. I will do a few hours once a week for now. I think that it is important to preserve history, and to contribute to the local community in the process. If you are ever in the area, do try to go and see it. It is a lovely building, and a tribute to all those involved in keeping it going, and resurrecting it from dereliction.
Here is a link to the website. Opening hours and directions are included.