Sails to be installed at Fulwell Mill as repairs project nears completion on Sunderland landmark

The final cogs are turning on the major project to restore Fullwell Mill to its former glory.

Friday, 23rd February 2018, 10:12 am
Updated Friday, 23rd February 2018, 10:25 am
Fulwell Mill

The much-loved Grade II* listed building, built in 1808, was closed to the public in 2012 on health and safety grounds after suffering significant damage at the hands of severe weather.

The cap and sails were removed in 2015 because of their dangerous condition, and the same year the mill was placed on Historic England's Heritage-at-Risk Register.

Fulwell Mill in the 20th Century (left) and after the damage in 2012

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But a project to fully restore the mill is now nearing its final stages, and a crane will arrive on site next week to lift its sails into place which will allow traditional craftsmen and millwrights Owlsworth IJP to complete the restoration.

The council has been working with Beaumont Brown Conservation Architects and Bonwick Milling Heritage Consultancy on the restoration scheme approved by Historic England.

Kate Wilson, Heritage at Risk principal for Historic England in the North East, said: "We are delighted to see Fulwell Mill fully restored. Repairing buildings like this requires specialist skills and has been carried out by a team of millwrights possessing the necessary expertise.

"Historic England actively promotes and supports the use of traditional building skills as preserving this expertise is fundamental to repairing historic buildings.

Fulwell Mill in the 20th Century (left) and after the damage in 2012

"The specialist work carried out by Owlsworth IJP has restored Fulwell Mill to its rightful place on the city’s skyline and is testament to our shared commitment to preserving our industrial and cultural heritage."

Work is expected to last two days, weather permitting, after which Fulwell Mill will be handed over by Sunderland City Council to Sunderland North Community Business Centre (SNCBC) who will manage and maintain this historical heritage attraction.

SNCBC will deliver a programme of community activities and events from the visitor centre and tea rooms which were developed after attracting external funding from the Coastal Communities Fund in 2016. SNCBC are already recruiting volunteers, and are keen to hear from anyone who can support them in ensuring the historic windmill is maintained for future generations.

A training session is being delivered on Friday March 2 from 8.30am to noon, to give people an insight into the traditional skills required to maintain the Mill, including areas such as inspection of the sails and machinery, maintenance and operating equipment.

John Kelly, the senior councillor responsible for culture and heritage in Sunderland, said: "Friday morning is a fantastic opportunity to see traditional millwrights at work, and learn the skills required in order to play a part in maintaining one of our city’s oldest and most treasured heritage assets.

"The complete set of sails now being installed is the final piece in the historic jigsaw at Fulwell Mill, and the result of a lot of hard work and dedication from all those involved."

The cultural heritage project was a partnership between Sunderland City Council and Historic England who both helped fund the costs of repairs and restoration.

Chief Executive of SNCBC, Nikki Vokes added: "Having the community at the heart of this project is essential for its success and we would like to invite everyone to come along and get involved. There will be lots of opportunities to volunteer in different ways including helping us to share the history of the Mill both locally and nationally and we will be delivering a range of events and activities across the year. " The view out to the coast from the first floor of the visitor’s centre is one of the best you will find in Sunderland and we hope people of all ages can visit the site to enjoy it for many years to come."

:: If you are interested in taking part in the training, or becoming a volunteer, at the Mill then please contact Megan on 0191 537 3231 to book a place. Please note places are limited.