Country Life

It’s an ill wind

- Jack Watkins

THE Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) has expressed concern at proposals by Kent County Council to sell off eight windmills as part of a savings drive. These include Davison’s Mill at Stelling Minnis, which was still working commercial­ly to produce wind as late as 1970, and the strikingly situated Union Mill at Cranbrook, considered by many as England’s finest surviving smock mill. Both are Grade I listed. ‘We understand the pressures on council finances, but believe that the sale would be harmful to Kent’s culture and tourism and could leave these historic mills with an uncertain future for negligible savings,’ comments a spokespers­on for SPAB’S Mills Committee, which has championed their conservati­on since 1929.

Folkestone & Hythe District Council has asked for a delay so that local groups, some of which already manage the mills, could potentiall­y raise money to buy them and take over their maintenanc­e. However, SPAB describes this move as more a ‘sticking plaster’ than a long-term solution for some of the smaller at-risk mills, which are unlikely to be able to raise sufficient money. ‘We are in touch with a number of the affected mills, trying to find practical solutions. We want them to remain accessible to the public wherever possible and not converted into private dwellings.’

SPAB offers training in millwright­ing skills through its Millwright Fellowship and can provide assistance through a repair fund ‘to help mills remain mills, as working machines and community assets, regularly open to the public’.

 ?? ?? Sails for sale: the Union Windmill in the heart of Cranbrook in Kent
Sails for sale: the Union Windmill in the heart of Cranbrook in Kent

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