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New academy to ensure traditional craft skills are not lost to Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 14:11 21 November 2017 | UPDATED: 07:48 22 November 2017

North Norfolk District Council is launching a crackdown on derelict buildings. A list of unsightly properties has been produced with owners being urged to make improvements or make a planning compulsory purchase on the property in question. Sutton Mill in Sutton near Stalham. 

Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

North Norfolk District Council is launching a crackdown on derelict buildings. A list of unsightly properties has been produced with owners being urged to make improvements or make a planning compulsory purchase on the property in question. Sutton Mill in Sutton near Stalham. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Archant Norfolk 2015

A new academy that will ensure traditional craft skills used in repairing wind and water mills are not lost is set to launch in Norfolk next month.

North Norfolk District Council is launching a crackdown on derelict buildings. A list of unsightly properties has been produced with owners being urged to make improvements or make a planning compulsory purchase on the property in question. Sutton Mill in Sutton near Stalham. 

Picture: MARK BULLIMORE North Norfolk District Council is launching a crackdown on derelict buildings. A list of unsightly properties has been produced with owners being urged to make improvements or make a planning compulsory purchase on the property in question. Sutton Mill in Sutton near Stalham. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

The National Milling & Millwrighting Academy will officially open at Sutton Mill, near Stalham on December 7 as part of a £3m development that will also boast tourist facilities.

The event will be used to kick start a major Crowdfunding campaign to secure the first-phase finance necessary to deliver the project, and also see the launch of the Friends of Sutton Mill.

The group is being set up to co-ordinate volunteering and community involvement in the project.

National Millwrighting Centre director Jonathan Cook said: “Our vision for the project is to create a thriving, financially self-supporting training academy that secures the traditional craft skills required to repair, maintain and run traditional wind and watermills for the future.”

North Norfolk District Council is launching a crackdown on derelict buildings. A list of unsightly properties has been produced with owners being urged to make improvements or make a planning compulsory purchase on the property in question. Sutton Mill in Sutton near Stalham. 

Picture: MARK BULLIMORE North Norfolk District Council is launching a crackdown on derelict buildings. A list of unsightly properties has been produced with owners being urged to make improvements or make a planning compulsory purchase on the property in question. Sutton Mill in Sutton near Stalham. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Mr Cook said the site, which is close to Hickling Broad, is in the process of being acquired from a Bedfordshire property developer who was keen to see the mill and granary restored and serving a new purpose.

As part of the redevelopment programme, the 24 metre-high brick-built tower mill will be restored to full working order.

The work will provide valuable on-site training for a new generation of millwrights and also create a new tourist attraction for the Broads.

The academy will be based at a new Heritage Centre on the currently unused five-acre site.

National Millwrighting Centre director Jonathan Cook. Picture: Courtesy Jonathan Cook National Millwrighting Centre director Jonathan Cook. Picture: Courtesy Jonathan Cook

Mr Cook said: “We will create a vibrant community facility and ‘must visit’ tourist attraction for the region, one that will provide commercial support for the training activities.”

The Heritage Centre will include holiday accommodation, an artisan bakery using flour from the mill, a shop and centre selling local food and gifts and a café.

“The launch event at Hickling Barn on December 7 will kick off a new and exciting phase of redevelopment that will make Sutton Mill and its adjoining Grade II-listed three-storey Granary the heart of Millwright training in the UK,” said Mr Cook.

“The first real practical use of the site since WWII should be the key to attracting funding and securing a long-term future for a building of great historical importance.”

Project secures future of Sutton Mill

The launch of the National Milling & Millwrighting Academy at Sutton Mill will ensure the long-term future of the mill following years of uncertainty.

The mill is one of the tallest windmills in Britain. Its sails, when complete, have a span of more than 22 metres tip to tip.

It was built by millwrights England’s of Ludham in 1789 and then rebuilt with an extra storey following a fire in 1857.

During the 1980s and 1990s, it – along with the popular Broads Museum on the surrounding land – was a key attraction for visitors to the region.

Changes of ownership, steady deterioration of the structure and storm damage in 2013 meant the mill and museum were closed to the public.

More recently, the cap, windshaft, brake wheel and the 20-metre timber stocks were removed for safety reasons.

It is currently on Historic England’s Buildings at Risk Register.

More information can be found at www.suttonmill.org

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