Windmill volunteering

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.
http://www.derehamwindmill.co.uk/

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31 thoughts on “Windmill volunteering

  1. Pete, I have rarely seen a typical European windmill. I’ve seen countless windmills of the type that farmers have in the western half of the United States (e.g., that squeaky windmill in the opening scenes of “Once Upon a Time in the West”), and, on several occasions, I’ve passed through two “wind farms” (Tehachapi Pass Wind Farm in Tehachapi, CA; San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm in Palm Springs, CA) that feature modern wind turbines as tall as 500 feet (152 m). I’ve yet to see the “real” Miller’s Windmill (ahem!), but I’m obviously looking forward to that day! I think it’s terrific that you volunteer your time and energy to the upkeep of the historic landmark in Dereham. As I always say, when it comes to the preservation of windmills, one should never go against the grain….

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  2. What a beautiful windmill! I’m glad it’s been preserved as I think we humans need to remember where we came from and what it was like where we’d been. I also think it’s a good reminder that we humans used wind power in the past and that using wind power should be a part of our future. I hope that volunteering to help with this project will be rewarding to you in all the people you’ll meet and the stories you’ll have to tell.

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    1. Thanks Gretchen. Preserving this heritage is indeed important, and as Norfolk is well-known for having many modern wind turbines, the connection with the past is a useful one.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  3. So nice of you to volunteer Pete. I love the windmills facade, it is worth-preserving. I haven’t seen a real windmill in my life except in pictures. Here have the Bangui Wind Farm which is located in Bangui, Ilocos Norte, Philippines. The wind farm uses 20 units of 70-metre (230 ft) high Vestas V82 1.65 MW wind turbines, arranged on a single row stretching along a nine-kilometer shoreline off Bangui Bay, facing the West Philippine Sea.

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  4. Pete, what a wonderful thing to volunteer to help out with such a beautiful windmill..

    Take care and happy blogging to ya, from Laura ~

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      1. Pete, do you think folks will be interested? If, so I may do a post about it too.. Thanks as always my friend across the pond…

        Take care from Laura ~

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          1. Pete, this one took me a moment to figure out what I was talking about, since it was almost from a month ago.. Now, I remember and hope you did too… You were talking about your volunteering in your past comment to me and I was asking about the glass house for my tiger.. I remember that was a day in March where I so dearly needed a little nap ~ and nap I did do…. that’s a hoot it took so long for that message to appear.. I think lots of my messages never appear. So, yes my friend we’re very interested in your days spent at the windmill ~ on the other hand I’m not certain anyone cares about the tiger glass house.. grinning from ear to ear.. Hugs to you for a response message from so long ago… Take care my friend…
            Laura~

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          2. I remember now! I think you should do a crafting post about the glass case for your tiger. Any of us that made the ‘papier mache journey’ with you will be interested, I am sure.
            Best wishes, Pete.

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      2. Pete, so sorry… I’m a tad tired today, and when out and about I had a young woman shot me the bird. I never understand this act from people. Anyway you were stating it’s a good idea about your volunteering & not the glass house for my tiger,,, I need a nap my friend….
        Take care from Laura….

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  5. Excellent, Pete…. I agree that it is important to preserve history. Sadly, developers often get their way and bulldozers remove so much of our heritage.

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  6. How wonderful that you have it near enough that you can volunteer your time. I too think that our historic buildings need to be preserved and our history told and remembered.

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    1. It’s only ten minutes in a car, though hard to get to by other means. With everywhere beginning to look the same, it’s good to have something so distinctive from the past in our local town.
      Thanks Corina.

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  7. A very good thing. It saddens me to see historic buildings fall into decay so I am glad this was rescued before it was too late. I’m sure you’ll love your job and maybe even pick up some interesting tidbits for the blog 🙂

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