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Wind energy museum has become a business with a difference thanks to NWES advice

PUBLISHED: 16:34 28 November 2013 | UPDATED: 16:34 28 November 2013

A lone reed isolated against the blue sky with Thurne Mill in the background.

Picture: James Bass

A lone reed isolated against the blue sky with Thurne Mill in the background. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2012

A business with a difference is how you could describe the Wind Energy Museum at Thurne mill.

The museum is dedicated to preserving the heritage of wind power, past, present and future and is the only one of its kind in the UK. On the 2.75 acre site visitors can see wind energy evolving from the 18th century.

It encourages tourists on open days, private groups, school educational visits, special event days, circular country/riverside walks, and gives talks on site in a new exhibition and educational room.

Mill enthusiasts also go to schools or outside venues to give illustrated talks. Also on offer is a wealth of volunteering opportunities.

Debra Nicholson said: “As a member of EEEGR we are beginning to introduce the energy sector to their heritage and ourselves into the future.”

Collection founder Bob Morse moved to Norfolk from West Sussex with his family in 1946. From a solid engineering background he purchased the then almost derelict Thurne Mill. The project of restoring it began and with the help of Albert England a descendant of the millwrights England & Co. who built the mill in 1820, they set about preserving it.

Bob then began to rescue and restore wind engines at his home in Repps. A wind engine is a mechanism for harnessing the power of the wind to drive pumps or other machinery. He successfully salvaged an intriguing collection.

Ten years ago Debra took on the responsibility of trying to find a way in which these giant machines could learn to pay for themselves. She had an international banking and accounts background

Debra said: “Most of the 10 years has been taken up with maintaining, repairs and planning issues, however thankfully at the beginning of this year we really decided to moves things forward and hopefully have made a huge step towards turning the collection into a viable and sustainable attraction.

“We do not employ anyone here at the museum as yet, but have a really strong and growing group of volunteers. Work-in days and weekends as well as help on open days etc, means the museum and Thurne Mill can open to the public, schools and groups more often.

The museum is unique in a number of ways, it is the only collection of its kind in the UK and it contains several exhibits which are the last of their type.

Debra has made full use of NWES expertise in order to establish a clearer view of where the museum was going. “So far I have attended the BEST start course and had a number of meetings with my personal advisor Jessica Collin. These have always been very helpful, informative and supportive.”

And Debra’s advice: “If you are passionate, prepared to put in the time and effort and set yourself realistic goals then each achievement is so rewarding – such as this year when Fairhaven School became our first school visit. Our ultimate high would be to achieve sponsorship to assist with the continued maintenance of the collection.”

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