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Millwrights say thanks to Lottery

PUBLISHED: 12:36 01 April 2009 | UPDATED: 13:32 03 July 2010

High life: Paul Abel and Jake Wilder work on Polkey's Mill, Reedham, which is adorned with giant lottery balls.

High life: Paul Abel and Jake Wilder work on Polkey's Mill, Reedham, which is adorned with giant lottery balls.

FOR one towering Norfolk landmark it was a case of “It could be you” yesterday as it was adorned with giant lottery balls.

The sails of Polkey's Mill took on the extra weight of the National Lottery spheres to promote the work of the next generation of millwrights.

FOR one towering Norfolk landmark it was a case of “It could be you” yesterday as it was adorned with giant lottery balls.

The sails of Polkey's Mill took on the extra weight of the National Lottery spheres to promote the work of the next generation of millwrights.

For the last two years, five trainee millwrights have been studying the traditional and increasing rare art of repairing and maintaining drainage pumps across the Norfolk Broads.

Yesterday, three of the trainees were carrying out minor repairs on the mill at Reedham, near Yarmouth, and as a thank-you to the lottery for providing £714,000 for their training, they scaled new heights to put on the balls.

At 22, Jake Wilder is the youngest trainee millwright in Britain. He was keen to show off his new skills as he clambered around the 45ft mill.

The former carpentry student from Norwich said: “I have always loved the Broads as a child but I never imagined I would have the chance to work so closely with some of its most iconic buildings. One of the most interesting and terrifying things I have learned as part of my training was rope access so we could repaint mills. I've never been great with heights but once I abseiled down a mill, my fear of heights disappeared.”

Polkey's Mill, dating back to the mid 19th century, is one of 74 drainage mills that still exist in on the Broads. The Norfolk trainees, also including Luke Harrold, Peter Goudling, Stephen Pulfer and Paul Abel, have worked on many of the mills as part of their three-year course, in which they also study a construction NVQ at Easton College.

The lottery money was secured for the training scheme by the Broads Authority in a bid to keep traditional skills alive. There is only one millwright who lives on the Broads. Two others travel from Essex and Lincolnshire to work on the county's mills.

Graham Bayne, Broads Authority project manager, said: “There are very few millwrights around and none of them are as young as the trainees. I think it is important to maintain our mills as they are part of the Norfolk's industrial history and are very much part of the landscape.”

Rebecca Neale, from the National Lottery, said: “We hope the mill-wrights' story and the lottery balls will help make people more aware of how lottery funding has benefited their local community.”


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