Today the scaffolding started being erected. Because the whole structure, including the cap, needs to be protected, and buttressing is required because the scaffolding mustn’t touch the brickwork, the process is expected to take about three weeks, depending on the weather.
Stonewest will then be able to start restoring the brickwork inside and out, and replacing, sanding and oiling the woodwork.
Paul Sellwood of Owlsworth millwrights was also back to attend a site meeting with representatives from Stonewest, Lambeth Council, and architect Dannatt, Johnson. As noted on a previous post, the jib or crane for removing the provender millstones is currently wedged in place due to the weight of the main millstones pressing down on the floor above (according to Paul, they weigh around 1.5 tonnes). So next week they are going to try inserting adjustable props on the ground floor and the first floor to support this weight and ‘lift’ the millstones on the second floor.
Overall, the stocks are in reasonable condition, but Paul is recommending the addition of stock clamps to strengthen the central part of the sails, as they will be under greater force once they are turning again. There have been a couple of instances of sails breaking on other windmills, at Thaxted in Essex and Chesterton in Warwickshire, and Paul thinks that adding clamps would minimise the risk of a similar incident here. Although there is no evidence that stock clamps have previously been used here, the Society for Protection of Ancient Buildings Mill Section agrees that they may be a good idea.
Because the stocks are not as deep as they should be, Paul is also suggesting adding extra timber to produce a halving joint (see diagram, right) where they cross. Again, this would provide extra strength. The sails themselves are in reasonable condition, though several sail bars and backstays will need to be replaced.