Monday, 13 May 2013

Hardley Mill: Rockley’s reflections

Hardley Mill 2013 RRockley
HAS Hardley Mill ever looked this good? This beautiful photo from Hardley Windmill Trust chairman Richard Rockley shows the big changes on the landward side of the mill. New drainage works here have changed the landscape quite dramatically. In Richard’s words: “at last it is possible to get the iconic ‘Broads mill reflected in water’ shot.”
Work continues apace on the Wherryman’s Way’s only working windmill. Of course the team have had the sails on for some time now, but it’s only this spring that the restored Appold turbine pump has begun working. In other words the windmill’s sails have actually been used to drain water for the first time since the mill’s demise, we think in 1947. At which point I love to quote Loddon octagenarian Cecil Nicholls (pictured above). He knows this stretch of the WW like the back of his hand and has a fantastic memory for the late 1940s:
“I got home about 4.30 and suddenly this storm started to brew up from nowhere,” he told me. “I’ve never seen thunder and lightning like it.”
“A little while later my father came back and said the mill’s sails had been wrenched off. The newspapers said they had been struck by lightning, but I think they were blown off.”
Whatever the precise cause, those particular sails would never turn again. The mill was quickly abandoned and later replaced by an electrical drainage pump.
Of course the real work of keeping these fields drained will continue to be done via electricity. But that doesn’t take away from the considerable engineering achievement on the ground. Or - for that matter – from the beauty of seeing a pukka windmill in the Yare Valley and knowing that it actually works.
* More from Hardley Windmill Trust’s own website here.
* Lots more on the mill from this blog’s archive here.

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