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   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.
Powered by Xara Web Designer
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   derelict   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   several   months   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 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 the new situation. Our instincts were telling us that local people would be delighted  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   had   sought   advice   from   experts   in   local   planning about    what    approach    we    should    take    in    order    to    achieve    our ambitions   for   the   mill   but   despite   their   expensive   suggestions   we always   ended   up   down   blind   alleys.   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   confidence   to   look   again   at   our proposals.    The    outcome    was    we    decided    to    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   and   Access   Statement    and   a Heritage Statement  all of 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   problem   -   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   many   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     constructional 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’ and   solved   the   complications   caused   by   the   need   for   eight   angled apertures    to    be    built    into    the    centre    leaf    of    the    wall    to
accommodate   the   holding   down   bolts   which   secure   the   cast   iron curb   to   the   tower.   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.   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    rebuilding    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   the   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 water   and   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.