Goodbye sails, hello scaffolding

View of windmill from Jebb Avenue

View of windmill from Jebb Avenue (photo by Owen Llewellyn)

The last sail was finally removed last Thursday (photos below). In the end, the operation went quite smoothly, though the wooden stock supporting the sail needed quite a bit of planing down so that it could be removed more easily from the central shaft.

The stocks were too long to transport to Reading without an articulated truck, which would have been difficult to get into Windmill Gardens, so they will be sanded and repainted on site.

Planing stock

Tom planing the stock to allow the last sail to be removed (photo by Owen Llewellyn)

Today the vegetation growing around the base of the windmill has been removed, and site manager Ulrika was waiting impatiently for the facilities hut to arrive (with seating area, changing room, kettle and real loo!).

This morning the engineer inspected the  foundations. Although there is little sign of movement, he still thinks the mill should be underpinned. This will be discussed at a site meeting on Thursday.

Final sail clear

Final sail being lifted clear (photo by Owen Llewellyn)

Next steps: the rendering around the base of the windmill is going to be removed, and the scaffolding is due to start going up on Wednesday. Because the walls slope inwards and the scaffolding is not allowed to touch the mill, a special buttressing structure is needed to keep the platform stable.

Site manager Ulrika is enjoying the work so far. She’s already read through some books on the windmill’s history at Brixton Library and asked if she can have a copy of an early print of the mill to hang in the hut.

She says, “On big sites where I’ve worked, like King’s Cross, it’s so noisy and there are so many workers you never recognise. Here, it’s so peaceful, with just dog walkers in the morning and children in the afternoon.

“Nobody would know we are here. One of our delivery drivers thought he was dropping stuff off at the Windmill pub, because he couldn’t even see us from the road. He was really surprised to find out there was a real windmill in Brixton!”

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