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Old Broads mill sells for £41,500

PUBLISHED: 09:36 08 April 2008 | UPDATED: 10:49 03 July 2010

THE sale of the oldest drainage mill on the Broads was described by the auctioneer as “one for the adventurer” - but it emphatically won the stamp of approval of a Norfolk postman.

THE sale of the oldest drainage mill on the Broads was described by the auctioneer as “one for the adventurer” - but it emphatically won the stamp of approval of a Norfolk postman.

The sails on the tired-looking mill ceased to be a landmark feature for passing sailors when they were taken down in 1933, its machinery shed long ago fell into dereliction and the former marshman's cottage on site is now little more than a pile of rubble.

Norfolk Windmills Trust had been hoping to buy Grade 2* listed Oby Mill, near Acle, to restore it as a working heritage attraction, but at a Tops Auction House sale at the De Vere Dunston Hall Hotel, in Norwich, the charity found itself outbid by Adam Whiting, a local Royal Mail van driver.

The guide price was £30,000 to £50,000, and Mr Whiting, 44, of Witton, near Brundall, was willing to pay £41,500 to see off rival bidders for a chance to realise his artistic dream.

Since returning from Australia two years ago, where he worked part of the time on historic building renovation, he said he had been looking for a suitably secluded property, a rural retreat where he could indulge his passion for sculpture and carving.

Mr Whiting acknowledged that he would have to work closely with the Broads Authority to see what might be possible but he hoped to rebuild the marshman's cottage as a possible home for himself as well as restoring the mill and machinery shed.

His plan for the cottage would be to reuse the old bricks on site and create a green dwelling - “living with the environment and not in it” - with solar or wind power and dry composting toilets.

Mr Whiting, who would undertake a lot of the restoration himself, said: “I would like to see the mill working again in some way. I have done a lot of travelling and I think I could create something like a travellers' stop.”

The restoration of the machinery shed might include - subject to Broads Authority agreement - somewhere for light refreshments as well as a spot for walkers to stop and enjoy views of the River Bure.

He said: “It won't be a big development. I want something that blends in with the countryside and integrates modern, clean technology with the aesthetics of the old mill.”

Auctioneer Trevor Blythe said despite massive national interest before the sale there were only three bidders and the price only just crept over its reserve.

He had been frank with prospective purchasers that they would face many hoops to get planning permission for a home on the site and it might appeal to someone willing to take a gamble.

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