Around 30 hardy souls braved the wintry conditions to attend the Friends of Windmill Gardens general meeting and Christmas party last night.
The chairwoman, Jean Kerrigan, started by thanking everyone who had worked so hard during the past months of intense activity. As well as Dannatt Johnson architects, Owlsworth millwrights and Stonewest restoration, and Lambeth Council, who had worked directly on the restoration, lots of people had been involved in running events over the summer, and the communications group had been reformed, producing this blog and a newsletter. The executive group had also met regularly to keep things on track.
Sophie Potter of Dannatt Johnson then gave a brief update on the restoration. The scaffolding is complete, and the sails, stocks and provender mill have been removed by the millwright for repair and restoration. The cap has been stripped of its weatherboarding to let the millwright inspect the wind-driven mechanism and timberwork (unfortunately, Paul Sellwood of Owlsworth was unable to attend the meeting because he was snowed in). The main millstones on the second floor will probably have to be dressed on site, as it will be too difficult to remove them.
Quite a lot of structural repair work will be needed, as there are some significant cracks. Around 20 bricks on each floor will also need to be replaced due to erosion from damp (especially around doors and windows). Once the repairs have been completed and the scaffolding removed, some underpinning will be carried out, as the mill has no significant foundations. All the work is on schedule at the moment, despite the weather.
Jean then introduced Lisa Rigg, the new Development and Education Officer. Lisa has worked in heritage and education for the past 15 years and will be working on the windmill three days a week (the other two days she works for the Hackney Society in her home borough). She has extensive experience in oral history projects, especially working with schoolchildren and teenagers.
Lisa is currently drafting an education plan and policy and is happy to get feedback on her ideas. She is very keen to use the skills and enthusiasm of the Friends to help make the windmill a great attraction and increase the number of visitors.
In response to a question from the floor, there was a brief discussion about the possibility of erecting a visitor centre, how it would work in the space available, and approaching wind turbine manufacturers for funding.
Finally, Jean announced that three trees in the park need to be removed. The Council has promised that they will be replaced by three more, so if anyone has any suggestions about what trees they would like to see or where the other trees might be re-sited, they should let her know. Also, another training day for volunteers interested in being guides is planned for late Jan/early Feb – please contact Alex Gaffikin for details. In both cases, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Formal business complete, the music was turned on, the mulled wine flowed freely, and everyone tucked in to the delicious food brought by attendees, including chickpea and spinach curry, chocolate brownies – and bread made from locally-milled flour courtesy of Brockwell Bake. Maybe next year we will have our own!