Restoration of 138-year-old mill reaches high point as cap is put back on

Stracey Arms windmill

The cap being put on the restored Stracey Arms windmill, off the Acle Straight, on Thursday (December 16). - Credit: Trevor Fuller Photography

It is a familiar sight to commuters and holidaymakers on their way to Great Yarmouth, a 138-year-old mill overlooking the only curve along the nine-mile Acle Straight.

And, more than three years after the launch of a restoration project, the Stracey Arms drainage mill had its cap hoisted back into position on Thursday (December 16).

The moment marked a high point in Norfolk County Council's 'Mill and Marsh Folk' project to restore the Grade II listed building.

The cap was removed in October 2018 to be repaired by Norfolk millwright Richard Seago.

In the meantime, a temporary roof has kept the mill watertight as building work on the brick tower was carried out by conservation builders R&J Hogg of Coney Weston.

Work takes place on the restoration of the Stracey Arms mill

Work takes place on the restoration of the Stracey Arms mill, which was built in 1883 to drain the Halvergate marshes. - Credit: Norfolk Windmills Trust

The restoration project, supported by a £554,600 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, is returning the mill to its former glory, with a new set of sails to be installed by the end of next year.

In addition to restoring the structure, the Mill and Marsh Folk project will also provide interpretation on site for visitors and educational activities for schoolchildren and community groups.

Volunteering opportunities will be available for those who wish to assist visitors and help maintain the site.

Stracey Arms was part of a network of drainage mills that were used to control water levels across the Halvergate Marshes, one of the most extensive grazing marshes in England.

A crane places the cap back on the Stracey Arms mill

A crane places the cap back on the Stracey Arms mill between the Acle Straight and the River Bure. - Credit: Norfolk Windmills Trust

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It was built in 1883 for Sir Henry Stracey of Rackheath Hall by millwright and engineer Richard Barnes of Southtown Ironworks to drain water off the surrounding marshes into the River Bure.

The mill stopped working in the 1940s when electric pumps were installed.

The restored cap sitting on top of the Stracey Arms mill

The restored cap sitting on top of the Stracey Arms mill after it was hoisted back up on Thursday (December 16). - Credit: Norfolk Windmills Trust

During the Second World War, it served as a fortified pillbox with gun loops cut into the tower as part of the defences for the local area.

The mill then gradually fell into disuse. Major repairs were carried out in the 1960s and in 1965 it was the second mill gifted to the county council to be maintained by the then newly formed Norfolk Windmills Trust.

Stracey Arms mill

The restored cap on the Stracey Arms mill glows with the light of the setting winter sun on Thursday (December 16). - Credit: Norfolk Windmills Trust

Stracey Arms mill

An aerial view of the Stracey Arms mill, on the Acle Straight, which is being restored by the Norfolk Windmills Trust. - Credit: Trevor Fuller Photography