Rob Johnson – Metal Detectorist

rob-johnson-01Rob Johnson, a local metal detectorist, has donated some fascinating artefacts to Heage Windmill, many dating from the working life of the windmill.  Some pre-date the mill and others are more recent.

A few of the artefacts items have a direct link with the mill, such as an old trowel which dates from around the time the mill was repaired following the 1894 storm when the cap blew off.

The whole collection reflects the agricultural history of the area, with evidence of trade and travel through the area.  There are also interesting personal items that point to the sort of lives people lived, such as the love token (was it discarded or lost by the recipient?).

To read more about Roy’s pursuit of metal detecting and his interesting finds, click here

Bowmer & Kirkland Cheque – Major Funding Boost

John Kirkland Cheque 001A wonderfully generous donation of £10,000 by Bowmer & Kirkland has helped Heage Windmill Society achieve a challenging fundraising target to repair the 220-year-old mill.

When hidden wet rot was discovered in the windmill last August it seemed that the mill would be out of action for a very long time.

The Trust funds couldn’t match the initial estimates of about £90,000 for the repairs and other essential routine maintenance jobs from its own resources.

Time was of the essence, as the Trustees wanted to get the repairs completed for the 2016 season. They quickly realised there was no fast track route to obtaining support from major funding bodies and, together with the full support of  the mill volunteers from ‘The Friends of Heage Windmill’, they decided to go it alone.

John Kirkland Cheque 002Certain work could only be done by a professional millwright, but other work could be done be the volunteers, particularly servicing and painting the six sails and the cap – so they set about doing this. As a result of 500 hours of volunteer work on the sails alone over almost 16 weeks through the winter this has indeed been accomplished.

At the same time traditional millwrights, from Lincolnshire were tasked with the major repairs to the cap sub structure and with making a new fan tail assembly, both of which are still going on.

To fund all the repairs, the Trustees launched a web appeal, ran concerts, sales of donated goods, functions etc… anything they could think of.  Slowly the new established target for costs of £60,000 was being reached – but had somewhat stalled around at £42,000.

The fundraising effort needed a huge push and it came in the form of a donation from Heage-based construction firm Bowmer & Kirkland.

Chairman John Kirkland is the Patron of  Heage Windmill and his office looks over the site. He has supported the work at the mill from its initial restoration in 2002 up to the present time and felt that he could help further with the funding efforts.

John Kirkland Cheque 005He presented a cheque for £10,000 to Piers Bostock, Chairman of the Heage Windmill Trust, to boost the funding of the repairs, in front of a small gathering of those who had worked so hard to date to get mill repaired.

John Kirkland said: ‘I have always loved seeing the mill and it has been part of my life in Heage- I want to see her working again’.

Piers Bostock replied: ‘This magnificent contribution brings the funding target within the resources of the Trust to complete the repairs and they and the volunteers together will have her turning again as quickly as possible’.



Heage Windmill Repairs Report

Heage Windmill Sail Restoration - Feb 2016 12More progress is being made on the repair and restoration of our sails.

The millwrights are working on the major repair while the mill volunteers are moving well with the refurbishing and painting of the sails and are approaching completing all of the planned work.

Heage Windmill Sail Restoration - Feb 2016 35They have disassembled the shutters on the old sails, cut out the dead wood on the whips, and have nearly finished painting all of the sails and shutters.

18 coats of paint were needed for the six sails – 3 coats per sail.

They have also been re-assembling the shutters and as each of the shutters is sponsored – there is a number on each referring to a sponsor – those numbers need to be re-stencilled.

It’s hard work but the hope is that all will be ready for the 2016 opening on Saturday March 26th.


Amber Valley Drinkers Dig Deep for Windmill Appeal

Amber Valley CAMRA Presentation
Tony Cooper (holding cheque to the right) pictured with Amber Valley CAMRA members Mike Wallis, Jane Wallis, Chris Rogers (Chair), Simon Riddington and David Harper

Heage Windmill’s Trouble at Mill Appeal (TAMA) is £348 better off thanks to the Amber Valley CAMRA Beer Festival held recently.

Heage Windmill Society Trustee Tony Cooper – himself a CAMRA member – contacted Amber Valley CAMRA to ask if he could shake a tin at their annual beer fest.  The next thing he knew, the Trouble at Mill Appeal had been adopted as the Festival’s nominated ‘good cause.’

The result was a collection of £348 which was presented to Tony, on behalf of the windmill, at AV CAMRA’s branch meeting at the Spanker in Nether Heage.

‘AV CAMRA really took the mill’s appeal on board,’ says Tony.  ‘As well as having a display desk at the festival, we had a whole page in the free festival programme where our appeal was explained, and the CAMRA cash desk volunteers were collecting cash from departing drinkers throughout the four-day festival.’

As Tony continues: ‘Thanks to the generosity of local people and the goodwill and support from groups like AV CAMRA, we now have sufficient funds to get started with the majority of the work involved in repairing the sails.’

Heage Windmill Sails Away

Heage Windmill - Sails Off Nov 26 001It was a suitably dreary, damp day at 8-00 am on Thursday,26th November when the crane arrived at the windmill to play its part in the removal of the sails – the first stage in repair of the mill following the discovery of wet rot in some key structural components.

Fortunately the wind was negligible, a critical requirement when handling large components designed to catch the wind!

Heage Windmill - Sails Off Nov 26 004A local contractor, Dave Nicholls and his mate worked hard to release the eleven huge bolts on the first sail which fasten the sails to the iron cross – the largest was about 14” long and 1 ¼” diameter.

The crane supported the sail whilst this was done and by 9-30 the first one was being guided to its initial resting place, laying flat on wooden pallets.

Heage Windmill - Sails Off Nov 26 007The volunteer team then removed the wooden leader boards from the sails and made the control rod for the shutters secure.

Meanwhile the millwrights started to remove the next sail and the whole process was repeated six times.

All the sails were then repositioned to stand vertically ready for the next stage – transport to a dry workshop where they will be carefully checked and any repairs carried before painting – again by the mill volunteers.

By 1-00 pm all the sails were off and stacked and the workers gathered round to celebrate the successful completion of this phase of the work.

The mill however looked strangely bare without her sails… But the sails WILL turn again.

Here is a gallery of the day the sails were transported from the windmill to the workshop.


New Flour Miller Approved

Congratulations to John Lea of Crich who has become our latest qualified miller.

Congratulations to John Lea from Crich who has become our latest qualified flour miller. To qualify, John had to meet all the criteria set by the Trustees of Heage Windmill to operate the mill and produce meal and flour of various grades.  After working alongside other experienced millers, under various weather conditions, he was judged ready to be assessed by operating  the mill solo, though under the watchful eyes of a qualified miller. He has passed this test with flying colours and has been awarded a ‘Flour Miller  Certificate ‘.

The operation of Heage Windmill is only permitted by those persons who have undergone our detailed training programme, either to run the mill out of gear (free wheeling) or, when in gear, to produce flour. The windmill is Grade 2* listed and every care is taken to ensure the millers are fully trained before they can operate the 200 year old ‘machine’ in order to ensure she is safe at all times.

Why don’t you come and see if being a miller appeals to you?  We have both male and female millers. Come up to the mill at the weekend and talk to one of our millers, who will gladly show you what it’s all about. You need to be reasonably fit and to be able to climb the mill steps numerous times during the day, but all the rest we can teach you!  We look forward to meeting you!

Heage Windmill features in The Guardian

Under the headline ‘How setting up a trust can help community restorations,’ Guardian journalist Jo Adentuji has written about the daunting task of restoring community buildings and uses Heage Windmill as a great example of how a combination of funding models, volunteers and expertise enabled the mill to be restored to working order.

In the Guardian article, published on May 25, Heage Windmill Secretary Alan Gifford points out how the local community was integral to the success of the project, and that a sense of community added to the mill volunteers’ grant propositions.

To read the article in full, click here