Old Buckenham Windmill is a tower mill with the largest diameter tower in England, dating from 1818. Owned by Norfolk Windmills Trust. Further information is available from the NWT Technical Adviser Tel 01603 222705.

Opening arrangements for public visits: The Old Buckenham windmill is normally open to the public on the second Sunday of the month from May to September..

It will not have escaped your attention that the sails were taken down in 2010 for an inspection of their condition. Unfortunately they were found to be seriously decayed and because of limited funding the Windmill Trust have not been in a position to replace these with new sails.

Increasingly the responsibility to fund such repairs will be with local communities and the windmill committee are considering a number of fund-raising opportunities and ideas to restore the sails. Please spread the word and come to visit this important local landmark to learn (or refresh your memories) about how the mill worked. The more visitors that come, the closer the replacing of the sails will be.

The open days require a number of volunteers to welcome the visitors, take payment for entrance and merchandise, and supervise visitors as they explore the mill. If you are interested in helping on a Sunday then please contact Tom North on 860691. Full training will be provided and you can help on as many or as few days as are suitable for you.

The open days for the windmill are the same as for the Askew Agricultural Museum so why not get a double dose of heritage on a sunny Sunday afternoon walk?

Click here for technical specifications

The windmills of Old Buckenham

Old Buckenham is situated in a major corn growing area of East Anglia and there have been windmills in the village since around the 13th century. Records are incomplete but there are known to have been two postmills on either side of the Dam Brigg crossroads since early times. Others are recorded in Fen Street (Puddledock); in the former Mill Road on the site now occupied by the Methodist Chapel; and at Wilby Warren.

The postmill at Wilby Warren was unusual in that it was built on four brick pillars rather than on the more common roundhouse base. The postmills at Dam Brigg and on Mill Road were all severely damaged in a major storm in 1838. The Chapel was built on the site when that mill was demolished in 1870.

History of Old Buckenham Tower Mill
The present mill was built in 1818 and is the only tower mil/ known to have been built in the village. It has the widest tower of any mill in the country - 23' across at the base - although others are taller (most tower mills are around 12 to 14' across). The mill is also unusual in that it was built with five sets of stones and therefore required to be one of the most powerful to generate the drive required. The cap is of the Norfolk boat-shaped design and is believed to have been fitted with 8 fabric-covered sails. Records show that the mill suffered severe damage in a storm in 1879 after which, as part of the repair and overhaul of the 60 year old mill, a new windshaft was installed and the sails were replaced by four of the newer 'patent sail' design then in vogue. These had shutters that could be operated centrally by lever rather than having canvas sails that had to be manually unfurled.

The mill has had a number of illustrious owners - including James Colman, who married the daughter of the first miller and later entered into business with his uncle Jeremiah to form the J & J Colman business; and His Excellency Prince Frederick Duleep Singh, who lived with his wife Princess Sophia Alexandrona in Old Buckenham Hall at the end of the 19th century. The last miller. Billy Gooderham, took ownership in 1922. By this time the mill was in a poor state and the end came in 1926, after 107 years of operation, when the fantail broke down and the cost of repairs could not be found. The mill then became a farm store and in 1976 the cap and sales were so derelict that they had to be removed for safety reasons and a metal roof installed to keep out the weather.


Lifting the Cap into Position

A granary was built adjacent to the mill in 1856. It was later extended and a bakers oven installed in the extension. The oven was often used by villagers when their own ovens were out of action or too small. Some of the machinery from the mill was transferred to the granary building where a stationary engine was used to drive it for a few more years.

In the 1980's the granary was converted into private dwellings and the mill transferred to ownership of Norfolk Windmills Trust. A programme of restoration was begun with funding from Norfolk County Council and English Heritage and in 1996 the cap and sails were rebuilt and installed. The mill opened to the public in 1997. The internal machinery still awaits restoration when funds are available.

This very brief synopsis is taken from the booklet produced by the Old Buckenham Windmill Committee. Copies will be available to purchase at the mill when open days resume.

Banham postmill website: http://www.norfolkmills.co.uk/Windmills/banham-postmill.html

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