Mill remains a local landmark


On reading yet another article about the restoration of this windmill, like other people I am beginning to wonder when, or if, it will ever be restored?

As a former resident of a farm in the area it has, like others, angered me to see it in this deteriorating state for over 20 years.

The picture in the Advertiser (Thursday March 8) shows how bad it is now becoming. It’s awful.

To think, I used to visit there as a child quite often as my family knew the lady there (I am now nearly fifty) and many times I sat on the steps of this landmark.

I did actually go inside a couple of times and see the huge network of cogs inside.

It was not in a working state back then and was secured firmly inside by a serious of huge chains to prevent any movement.

It had/has stood the test of time in vicious storms of the past, it did not escape totally though when one sail was damaged in one storm back sometime in the late 1970’s when a sail was broken off.

The sail was later found to have a little wear and tear as wood cannot last forever.

Mother nature can be brutal. I remember that night well when the storm hit. We suffered minor structural damage to our home as well.

Most farms in the area were under the care of Stanton and Stavely at that time and they really did look after their tenants well back then.

Stanton and Stavely Trust who also looked after the windmill at that time, were quick to to repair it.

The sail was brought in on the back of a lorry and was hoisted into place manually by using a huge tripod that had been erected and by a series of chains that wound it into place and yes, all done by hand in those days.

Many people may or may not know this fact.

My family members witnessed the marvellous spectacle of it being repaired and once again it stood in all its glory.

The former lady who lived there would get up out of bed at all hours to ensure that the sails where facing into the wind-not in the same direction as the wind was blowing to.

On the night of that storm she was desperately trying to keep the sails turned into the wind. Turning those sails could prove a time consuming labour.

It was all done by hand yet it was a simple mechanism and well balanced.

The lady who lived at Dale Abbey Windmill, later of course, left due to it being sold. It was the end of an era.

When the new owner took over, many people questioned what he was going to do with it.

After 20 years, we have seen the condition of the mill deteriorate.

It suffered further damage after the current owner took it over and in the late 1980s during a storm when the sails were facing South-East, with the wind and not facing due North-West from where the wind was blowing from.

The result was again witnessed by another farming resident.

The sails at this time, did not appear to be secured correctly although it wasn’t confirmed and so sadly, somehow, it resulted in starting the sails turning at tremendous velocity.

The whirring noise could be heard by a farmer and he watched the sails turning.

Finally the huge strain of the gale force took its toll on the windmill and the whole set of sails, weighing, I have been informed, between four and five tons were finally wrenched from their mountings.

There were eventually put back on but these replacement sails didn’t seem right and people commented on the look.

Like many persons out there concerned about our treasured windmill, I can only hope that we do see action at last.

It has been too long coming. It should never have been allowed to get into that state from the start, and as a Grade I listed building, its unacceptable.

The family who operated that mill left a legacy. Now its down to us to try and see it kept as a lasting legacy. I am sure many out there would agree.

I grew up with the mill as others did. Please don’t let this iconic building go to ruin any more. It doesn’t deserve it.

S. Newton