Filey’s Windmill Recreating an iconic building
Muston Mill 2010
This   brings   the   story   right   up   to   date   for   now.   There   is   still   an   enormous   amount   to   do   before   the   project   is   complete   and   we   again   see   a classic   windmill   standing   on   Mill   Hill   but   we   think   we   have   have   made   a   good   start.   When   the   white,   double   curved   ogee   cap   and   fantail   is fitted   and   the   tower   waterproofed   with   black   pitch   Filey   will   have   a   stunning   new   building   to   admire   whilst   we   wait   to   get   the   24’   (8   metre) sails made and fitted. In the meantime we will from time to time report on progress in the ‘Rebuild Blog’ page which follows.
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We Become Involved with a Windmill
Mill   Farm   was   purchased   by   the   Taylor   family   in   the   1930's   and after   the   1939-45   war   was   run   under   management   for   many years.   In   2002   most   of   the   land   was   sold   for   housing   by   the estate   of   a   deceased   relative   and   we   took   the   opportunity   to invest   in   one   of   the   fields   known   as   Mill   Closes   which   happened to contain the  stump of a 150 year old disused windmill. The   idea   that   we   now   owned   a   windmill   intrigued   us   and   we spent   some   time   investigating   its   structure.   After   digging   out three   or   four   feet   of   accumulated   detritus   we   examined   the revealed   interior   and   discovered   its   condition   to   be   sounder   than we   had   originally   supposed.   Wild   ideas   of   possibly   being   able   to save   the   building   from   complete   ruin   began   to   cross   our   minds. Over   the   next   couple   of   years   we   trawled   the   web   searching   for information     about     windmills     and     particularly     accounts     of successful   restorations.   Through   this   research   we   gained   a   better appreciation   of   the   difficulties   involved   and   the   highly   specialised knowledge    and    skills    possessed    by    millwrights.    It    became obvious   we   must   consult   someone   with   practical   expertise   in   this
very traditional and historic area of craftsmanship. There   are   a   dwindling   number   of   millwrights   still   plying   their trade   and   it   took   us   a   while   to   track   down   the   people   we   thought had   the   right   levels   of   skill   and   experience.   Robert   Thompson   & Son   of   Alford ,   Lincolnshire   were   our   chosen   firm   and   we   asked Tom   Davies,   the   owner,   if   he   would   pay   us   a   site   visit   to   assess the   prospects   of   rebuilding   our   mill.   After   looking   the   building over   he   told   us   that   as   far   as   he   was   aware   no-one,   in   recent years   anyway,   had   rebuilt   a   mill   tower;   typically   the   tower   is   still     intact   and   only   needs   to   be   fitted   with   a   new   cap   and   sails. Having    said    that    he    saw    no    reason    why    it    could    not    be accomplished   with   the   right   planning   and   methods.   Encouraged by   this   positive   news   our   next   step   was   to   engage   a   structural surveyor   who   after   an   extensive   examination   gave   us   a   report that   confirmed   the   foundations   were   sound   and   that   with   some minor   remedial   work   the   brick   courses   remaining   would   support the weight of the upper storey together with a new cap and sails.
Planning Problems
With the experts telling us the project was feasible we now wrote informally to the Planning Authority seeking to know what the officers' attitude would be if we submitted an application to rebuild the mill. We received our first serious setback when they replied that they could not support our plans. In the hope of a more sympathetic response our advisors recommended an approach be made to the Heritage Officer on restoration grounds and we were stunned when he wrote in reply that he would rather see the mill stay a ruin than for it to be rebuilt. It was a crushing blow after all the hard work we'd done - not to mention the expense incurred. Local people we spoke to were as baffled as we were at these unhelpful and negative responses.  We paused in order to regroup and reconsider this new situation. Our instincts were telling us that local people would rejoice to get their windmill back and the reactions of our friends and relatives in Filey, when we discussed it with them, confirmed this view. We decided we had to stick to our guns and continue to believe in the value of our efforts to the community and not abjectly accept defeat. The fight would go on.
“Events Dear Boy, Events!”
Democracy at Work
Over   the   years   we   have   sought   expensive   advice   from   experts   in local   planning   about   which   approach   we   should   take   in   order   to achieve   our   ambitions   for   the   mill   but   despite   this   we   always   ended up    down    blind    alleys.    The    responses    to    our    soundings    of    local opinion    however    didn’t    change    and    from    the    very    beginning everyone   we   spoke   to   was   very   positive   about   wishing   to   see   the mill   rebuilt.   Eventually   we   came   to   realise   that   if   it   could   be   shown that   the   general   public   and   most   local   Councilors   were   strongly   in favour   the   planning   officers   might   be   given   the   confidence   needed to   look   again   at   our   proposals.   Finally   it   was   decided   we   should embark   on   a   comprehensive   consultation   process   so   that   everyone in   the   area   would   be   aware   of   the   full   scope   and   nature   of   our plans.   We   wanted   to   be   completely   transparent   about   our   proposal and   its   effects   on   the   local   environment.   We   created   a   website where    we    published    the    plans    and    a    selection    of    photographs illustrating     examples     of     other     successful     refurbishments     and restorations.   We   contacted   the   Campaign   to   Protect   Rural   England, Filey   Museum,   Filey   Tourism   Association,   Filey   School   and   many other    public    bodies    and    from    all    of    them    we    received    positive
support.    Meanwhile    meetings    were    arranged    with    Filey    Town Council,   Muston   Parish   Council,   Hunmanby   Parish   Council   and   finally Scarborough   Borough   Council   Planning   Committee.   At   each   meeting a   presentation   was   made   to   Councilors,   booklets   we   had   produced showing   in   detail   our   proposals   for   the   site   were   distributed   and questions    were    invited.    At    every    stage    positive    comments    and helpful     suggestions     were     received     and     in     that     encouraging atmosphere   we   set   about   completing   a   formal   planning   application. This    involved    considerable    further    expense:    another    structural survey,   further   architectural   drawings,   a   bat   survey,   a   soak-away test,   a   topographical   survey,   a   NYCC   Highway   application,   a   Design &   Access   Statement    and   a   Heritage   Statement    which   can   be   read   by following   the   links.   At   last   we   were   ready,   and   not   without   some trepidation   in   view   of   the   time   and   money   we   had   spent,   to   formally submit   the   documentation   to   Scarborough   Borough   Council.   You can,   I'm   sure,   imagine   our   delight   and   gratitude   when   the   Planning Committee   gave   their   unanimous   approval   for   us   to   proceed   with rebuilding our windmill at last.
Trouble at the Millwrights
Just   when   success   appeared   to   be   within   our   grasp   out   of   the   blue there    came    another    serious    blow    -    we    learned    that    sadly    Tom Davies   our   chosen   millwright   had   retired   suddenly   due   to   ill   health and   had   closed   his   business.   Anxiously   we   searched   for   a   way forward.   It   was   weeks   before   we   discovered   that   Tom's   former apprentices   Neil   Medcalf   and   Steve   Boulton   had   started   trading   as Traditional    Millwrights    from    a    village    quite    close    to    Alford.    We arranged   to   visit   them   to   see   whether   they   could   take   on   the   job   of
building   and   fitting   a   cap   and   sails   for   us.   There   was   also   the important   question   of   whether   the   vital   wood   patterns,   needed   for the   foundry   to   mould   the   cast   iron   components   from,   were   still available   as   replacing   them   would   cost   several   tens   of   thousands   of pounds    on    top    of    the    price    of    the    castings    themselves.    Neil confirmed   he   could   do   the   work   and   assured   us   that   the   patterns   we needed   were   held   by   a   local   museum   and   that   they   would   allow   him to use them in our rebuilding project.
The Tower Rises Again
Reassured   about   replacing   the   cap   we   now   took   action   on   the   first stage   of   the   reconstruction;   rebuilding   the   tower.   Alan   Mitchell   of Maltech    (UK)    Ltd,    our    new    structural    Engineer,    studied    all    the available   photographs   and   documents,   visited   many   windmills   and consulted   widely   in   order   to   understand   the   structural   implications of   how   the   cap   interfaced   with   the   tower.   After   calculating   the loadings   and   stresses   involved   he   set   about   preparing   plans    for   the reconstruction.   We   then   put   the   job   out   to   tender   and   eventually chose   to   award   the   contract   to   Traditional   Building   Services   Ltd. who     are     specialists     in     restoring     historic     buildings.     Stephen Pickering,   the   Managing   Director,   and   his   excellent   team   proceeded to   work   out   how   they   would   turn   these   plans   into   reality.   Stephen first   devised   a   way   of   maintaining   a   constant   angle   of      slope   to   the walls,   know   technically   as   the   ‘batter’.   Alan   added   extra   stiffness   to the   structure   by   specifying   two   stainless   steel   Helibars,   completely encircling   the   tower,   to   be   embedded   in   a   special   resin   between   the
upper   courses.   Further   complications   were   caused   by   the   need   for eight   vertical   apertures   to   be   built   into   the   centre   leaf   of   the   wall   to accommodate   holding   down   bolts   with   which   to   secure   the   cast   iron curb.   They   have   to   pass   down   through   the   middle   of   the   top   eleven courses   of   bricks   and   be   placed   with   a   tolerance   of   only   ½”.   This complicates   the   bricklayer's   work   as   it   has   to   be   achieved   whilst laying   three   interlocking   leaves   of   bricks   at   an   angle   equal   to   the taper    of    the    tower.    Remarkably    when    the    millwright    came    to measure   the   completed   work   the   discrepancy   was   only   half   that   - ¼”.   Slowly   but   surely   through   June   and   July   the   tower   grew   in stature   until   it   had   regained   its   original   height   and   by   August   2017 a    temporary    waterproof    cover    was    fitted    and    the    scaffolding removed.   At   last,   after   fifteen   years   of   dedication   and   hard   work   a landmark   not   seen   for   100   years   had   reappeared   on   the   horizon above Filey! We were absolutely delighted with the final results.
After   completing   the   rebuilding   of   the   tower   our   contractors   then turned   their   attention   to   ground   level   cutting   out   and   replacing damaged    brickwork    that    can    be    clearly    seen    on    the    1905 photograph    and    which    was    caused    by    the    shutter    regulating weights,   suspended   from   the   fantail,   being   allowed   to   repeatedly strike   the   tower.   This   damage   was   confined   to   the   south-east   and the   north-east   quadrants   of   the   tower.   Elsewhere   spalled   bricks have   been   replaced   and   further   Helibars   embedded   in   the   mortar where      there   was      even   slight   evidence   of   movement.   Finally   we will   be   doing   further   pointing   as      required   prior   to   coating   it   again with   pitch,   the   traditional   way   of   waterproofing   the   sloping   walls   of windmills.   Temporary   wooden   staircases   have   been   fitted   between floors   of   the   building   to   enable   further   work   to   be   done   inside   the tower   while   we   await   the   construction   and   fitting   of   the   ogee   cap and fantail.
Onwards and Upwards
Meanwhile    things    took    a    further    turn    for    the    worse    and    we suddenly    had    a    major    crisis    on    our    hands.    One    day    to    our consternation    we    discovered    the    'temporary' roof,   fitted   nearly   100   years   ago,   had   collapsed bringing   down   some   brickwork   as   it   did   so.   This happened   only   a   few   days   after   we   had   spent the    whole    of    one    Sunday    afternoon    working inside   it!   We   now   faced   a   dilemma:   either   we spend    a    serious    amount    of    money    despite official     discouragement     or     risk     the     mill deteriorating   into   a   pile   of   bricks,   fulfilling   the Heritage    Officer's    wishes    but    destroying    any chance   of   saving   it   for   posterity.   This   was   2010   eight   years   after we   became   the   mill's   owners   and   despite   being   unable   to   see   any obvious    way    forward    the    decision    we    took    was    unanimous.
Emergency     work     to     protect     the     structure     was     undertaken immediately   whilst   suitable   builders   were   sought   and   engaged   to carry    out    a    more    permanent    solution.    Eventually Adam   Knight   Construction   were   contracted   to   do   the work.   Rotten   door   and   window   lintels   were   renewed. Steel   beams   replaced   the   rotten   timber   ones   holding up   the   first   and   second   floors.   The   window   apertures were    sealed    up    and    new    double    entrance    doors hung.   Repairs   were   carried   out   to   the   upper   courses of   brickwork   and   a   temporary   roof   fitted   to   complete the   weatherproofing   of   the   structure.   We   also   laid   on electricity   supplies   for   future   use.   Finally   we   stood back   to   admire   the   transformation   that   had   taken   place.   The   mill looked cared for again and our enthusiasm rose to new heights.