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Five-year restoration project at Berkswell Windmill is completed

One of Solihull’s most celebrated landmarks will be reopened to the public following a five-year restoration project

Restoration work being carried out on Berkswell Windmill
Restoration work being carried out on Berkswell Windmill

One of Solihull’s most celebrated landmarks will be reopened to the public following a five-year restoration project.

Berkswell Windmill, which is almost 200 years old, had previously been placed on English Heritage’s ‘at risk’ list and was in urgent need of repair.

Since 2008 work has been underway to restore the Grade II-listed monument, near Balsall Common, to its former glory.

Last Friday, guests including the Mayor of Solihull, Joe Tildesley, and Meriden MP Caroline Spelman were invited to the relaunch.

“This is a red letter day,” said Mrs Spelman. “This has been a massive task and I hope that this secures the windmill’s future for at least the next 30 years.

“It’s great to have this working windmill at the heart of the community. It is one Solihull’s best-loved landmarks.”

The 40ft tall tower mill, owned by Paul and Jeanette McGarry, was previously restored and turned into a visitor attraction in the 1970s.

Mrs McGarry, who bought the Georgian building in 2004, paid tribute to the tireless efforts of the volunteers from the Friends of Berkswell Windmill.

The recent renovations, which include repairs to the windows, brickwork, cap and five-tonne sails, mean that open days will start again after a lengthy hiatus.

John Boucher, who worked on the windmill over 30 years ago, was invited back to oversee the final 18 months of the latest restoration.

“The first windmill I worked on was 50 years ago. They started as a hobby,” said the engineer.

“I used to work in the mining industry but when the bottom fell out of that this was what I moved on to.”

Nick Reading, from English Heritage, which put £65,000 towards repairs, said it had been critical to complete renovations.

“It was important to act before it completely deteriorated,” he said. “The cap was in a bad state and there was a danger of water damaging the machinery.”

Berkswell Windmill will next open to the public on Bank Holiday Monday (May 27), from 12noon-4pm For more details about open days call 01676 530085.

 

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