Miller’s son set to uncover Billingford Mill history

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As south Norfolk landmark Billingford Mill takes a step closer to restoration, a talk will take place on its history by the son of its last commercial miller.

The sails, removed in 2009, are set to be replaced, along with replacement stocks from steel to wood, the restoration of the cap to its original shape and the salvaging and repair of shutters.

They are all part of the works planned for April 2015.

On Sunday, June 8, Ivan Daines, who is 89, and the son of Arthur Daines, the last commercial miller in Norfolk to use wind power in the 1950s, will give a talk on its history.

Mr Daines’ grandfather George bought the mill in 1924, before passing it to his son, so he is uniquely placed to talk about the mill’s history, including the period when it was first built in 1860.

Mr Daines said he worked on the mill for about two years from 1949 to 1951 when he received a “letter of distress” from his grandfather and father saying they were both ill and were struggling to keep the operation going.

Mr Daines openly questioned the decision of his elders to buy and continue to run a business that was to be superseded by more efficient milling methods.

“I think they both could have done much better for themselves. I don’t think my grandfather should have ever bought it,” said Mr Daines.

Owned by the Norfolk County Council, and under the responsibility of the Norfolk Windmills Trust, efforts are ongoing with South Norfolk Council to access grant funding.

A preferred millwright for the work has been identified.

A local fundraising committee, led by landowner Sir Rupert Mann of Billingford, is hoping to raise the £126,000 needed for the works.

The talk is at Brockdish village hall on Sunday at 2pm.

Tickets are £3 or £4 on the door and available from Swan Hotel, Harleston 01379 852221, or Billingford Horseshoes 01379 740414. The mill will be open afterwar. Call 01379 853967 for more information.