The last spin for Wilton Windmill, as volunteers prepare for sails to come down

Written by Peter Davison on .

Miller Charles Baxter at Wilton WindmillMiller Charles Baxter at Wilton WindmillThe sails have spun for the final time at the last working windmill in Wessex - at least for a while.

They are soon to be removed for much-needed renovation. Especially in need of repair are the patent sails, whose slats can be angled to catch the wind.

Last week, the final batch of the wheat flour was produced at the mill from the fields that surround it.

There is no ‘cheat mechanism’ at the windmill: flour is either produced by wind power, or not at all.

And for miller Charles Baxter, 2016 has been an unproductive year – and an indication of how precarious the industry was in Victorian times.

“We’ve only managed a handful of flour,” he said. By last Friday, the society was down to its last 10 bags.

The Wilton Windmill Society relies on the sale of flour to fund the day-to-day running of the historic building, which was erected in 1821.

Around £10,000 a year is needed to keep the millstones turning. Sadly, perfect milling days – dry weather with constant winds of between 16 and 18mph – have been in short supply this early in the season.

And now, the Wilton Windmill flour stocks are too.

The renovations of the sails, though, are being funded by Wiltshire Council, which has owned the property since 1971.

Volunteers are hopeful that the sails will be back up before the windmill provides a backdrop for a murder mystery evening.

Malice Through the Looking Glass is the latest murder mystery evening from Smoke & Mirrors theatre company. It takes place on Saturday, June 25 from 7pm, with tickets priced at £25.

See our What’s On calendar for details.

To see a video of the windmill in action, go to our Facebook page: