The Winds of Change
It is hoped the wind will be put back into the sails of Sneath’s Mill, the county’s oldest tower mill, thanks to a £77,00 repair project.
Thought to have been built in 1779 the Grade I listed Sneath’s Mill, near Lutton Gowts, is due to undergo major repair to restore what is now the remains of a neglected architectural gem. Resting on what appears to be a derelict pile of bricks with an unwelcome pigeon infestation it may be hard to understand what makes this building so special. However, of all the listed buildings within the country only 2.5% receive a Grade I listing so the importance of this building is very clear. The red brick mill has a unique octagonal structure which is believed to be the result of the brick casing of a former timber ‘Smock Mill’, likened to the linen smocks of British Countrymen from the weatherboard cladding. The mill stands as the only survivor of a group of three corn mills and is subsequently the oldest tower mill in Lincolnshire. Another unique feature of the mill is that it is one of only eight mills in the county recorded to have a wooden windshaft.
Following a storm in the 1930s the mill was severely damaged and consequently ceased operation. Despite early attempts to preserve the mill the start of the Second World War caused repair works to never get underway. Since then the mill has gradually fallen into poor condition with weather damage causing major deterioration and damage to the cap frame, loss of the sails and collapsing interior floors.
After being on English Heritage’s ‘Heritage at Risk’ register since 1998 it has become a mission of the Sneath’s Mill Trust to secure this historically important building and with a £77, 000 repair project largely funded by English Heritage it seems the future is really brightening up for the mill! Set up in 2007 the Trust have been committed to rescuing and repairing the mill, carrying out a number of fundraising activities and raising awareness of their project at local exhibitions and talks.
Following a full measured survey, archaeological recordings, condition surveys and an assessment of the mill’s significance it will be possible to make plans for the mill’s future. The project will aim to install a new temporary roof as well as making repairs to the delicate brickwork in order that the state of the interior can be assessed. With the grant from English Heritage urgent repair works and vegetation clearance can be started immediately whilst long term plans for the whole site are developed. Under the new care of The Sneath’s Mill Trust, the team are beginning to scaffold the mill inside and out and to protect it from further weather beating and those disrespectful pigeons! The Trust is confident the mill can be successfully restored to a state which will allow it to integrate into today’s society and be enjoyed by future generations. Along with the mill itself the Trust owns some of the surrounding land, which includes an old abattoir and derelict agricultural buildings. With the help of Boston-based architects, Anderson and Glenn Conservation Architects and Landscape Consultants, the Trust hope to create a museum and visitors’ centre on the site, which will offer exhibition spaces for telling the story of the mill as well as the lives of its builders and the millers who ran it.
To find out more about the Trust and the work they are carrying out to restore the mill please visit www.sneathsmilltrust.org.uk where you will find reports on the mill’s progress.