This afternoon, Brixton Windmill received a visit from a Polish group from Gdansk. The group was in Britain as part of the British Council’s Active Citizens programme, which seeks “to link overseas communities with both UK and other overseas communities to encourage long-term intercultural dialogue and shared learning”.
The group had a packed schedule, which had so far included visits to the Tate Gallery, Houses of Parliament, the O2 arena, the London Green Fair, Trinity Buoy Wharf, the 7 Bridges Festival and the Black Cultural Archives. They had specifically asked to see a restored building and talk about fund-raising and the restoration process – so Brixton Windmill was included on their itinerary.
Unfortunately, the interior of the mill is still closed for public visits until the final bits of restoration are complete. However, Jean Kerrigan, Chair of the Friends of Windmill Gardens, and one of the guides, Anthea Masey, were able to show them the exterior and talk about the history, the sails and the restoration process. Jean gave them copies of the Friends’ newsletter to take away as a memento.
The group found the visit interesting. One of the group, Marika, said, “I was surprised to find a windmill in London – I associate them more with Holland! No wonder you want to preserve it.”
Another visitor, Barbara, was an engineer and a member of the Society for Renovation of Historical Monuments in Poland. She is involved in renovating a 14th-century church about 30km from Gdansk: “It has been terribly destroyed – there was no roof, so the rain was getting in and damaging the 17th-century paintings on the ceiling. Now we have got the money and built a roof, but we need to raise more money to start conserving the inside.
“It is very important and nice that you have restored the windmill. It is very interesting for many people to visit and see it.”