One of Milton Keynes’ most distinctive landmarks will be open for business again on selected days this summer.
Bradwell Windmill, which featured on the first set of postcards and adverts for life in the new city, will be opening this summer to the public on the last Sunday of each month, following a £160,000 refurbishment funded by Milton Keynes Council.
And the landmark is maintained and operated by volunteers.
Lead volunteer Matthew Nayler said: “The restoration has been in two areas - firstly making the building watertight, and secondly restoring the sails and the milling mechanism so it can do what it was intended to do.
“Our intention is for these open days to have the mill milling even if we are not initially in a position to have flour for sale.”
Milton Keynes is an important site for windmills, having been home to the first mill ever excavated in Europe, found at Great Linford and thought to date from 1220.
Bradwell Windmill is thought to be the second windmill built in Bradwell village, replacing an earlier post mill on the site of Summerfield School, which sat on a post in order that the whole structure could be turned so the sails caught the wind.
Today’s mill, which is just off the V6 Grafton Street, was erected around 1805 and just about made a living for the families that owned it, milling grain for local farmers. However, it was less reliable than the area’s water mills, for example along the Ouse at Old Wolverton, and by the 20th century it was derelict.
The council acquired it for just £80, and its return to health for the first time in 139 years has been achieved through a partnership between the building’s stewards, Milton Keynes Museum, and Milton Keynes Council who funded the work of millwrights Owlsworth IJP.
Paul Sanders, assistant director of community facilities for MK Council, said: “This is a rare and valuable site nationally and a significant heritage asset. Although Milton Keynes is often thought of as a new city we have many important historic sites and it is vital we do everything we can to preserve these for generations to come. The expansion of Milton Keynes Museum, which we are helping to fund, will play a key part in telling the story of this area’s role in our nation’s history.”
Opening times are the last Sunday of the month, March to October, from 1.30-4.30pm. The mill will also be open on the Bank Holiday of Monday, May 4, when the sports club next door to the mill has their fete.
For satnavs the postcode that gets people to the mill is MK13 7UE; parking is in Nightingale Crescent, off Wheelers Lane. There is no access to the mill from Mill Lane (off Bradwell Road).
Admission is free, but donations are welcome.