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The last working windmill in Wessex is working again

Written by Peter Davison on .

Peter Lemon at the windmillPeter Lemon at the windmillFor seven months it’s looked more like a lighthouse than a windmill. But today (Wednesday) Wilton Windmill’s sails - removed in August for repair - were replaced.

When the sails came down, the Wilton Windmill Society had hoped they would be re-erected in two months.

But emergency calls from windmill owners across the UK meant that IJP - one of only a handful of millwrights in the country - were kept busy making dangerous heritage buildings elsewhere safe.

Then there were the ground conditions: the only way to get the sails off and on is with a crane, and with Wilton Windmill sitting in the middle of a field, a solid foundation was needed.

“We were waiting for a nice day,” joked Wilton Windmill Society president Peter Lemon as he watched the sails being re-erected today.

Steady as she goes - the final sail is replacedSteady as she goes - the final sail is replacedAnd boy did they get one: while conditions were foggy when the crane and cherry picker arrived at 7.30am, by 9am the mist had lifted, replaced by bright blue skies and a light wind - perfect conditions not just for the millwrights, but also for the dozens of well-wishers who stopped to watch the spectacle.

It was no easy task, though. The final sail was not lifted into place until 4pm.

Repaired and repainted, the sails – 1970s replicas based on the original 1821 designs – will turn again on the first opening day exactly a month from now - Saturday, April 15.

And the annual celebration weekend takes place from June 24 to 25, with a murder mystery play on the Saturday evening.

  • See a video of the final sail being hoisted into place on our Facebook Page.

The sails are lifted into placeThe sails are lifted into place