Soham windmills remain ‘at risk’ according to new report from English Heritage

The Downfield windmill

The Downfield windmill - Credit: Archant

A pair of iconic windmills in Soham remain at risk of irreversible decline unless major restoration work is carried out to rescue them.

The Northfield windmill

The Northfield windmill - Credit: Archant

Downfield windmill, in Fordham Road, and Northfield windmill, in The Shade, are both in a poor state of repair, according to a new report, and both have retained their place on English Heritage’s At Risk Register

The Grade II* Downfield windmill can be traced back to the 18th century, while the Northfield windmill began life in its current position in about 1830 and was used to mill corn.

Both windmills are in private ownership and some repair works have been carried out in recent years but English Heritage says much more is needed to secure their long-term survival.

In all, there are 21 sites in East Cambridgeshire on the at risk register this year, including 16 monuments, four listed buildings, and a conservation area.

In Ely, a dovecote which was originally part of a 13th century medieval hospital, in St John’s Road, has been given a lifeline after a grant offer was made to carry out urgent repairs to its roof. The building remains at risk, however.

This year, Stevens Mill, in Burwell, was taken off the list following a year-long, extensive renovation.

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The grand re-opening of the mill took place in April and it is now open for tours and to visitors.

The project to restore the mill was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and cost £420,000. The Grade II* listed, four-storey tower mill, built around 1820, was brought back from the dead and restored to working order so its milling machinery using sails and wind power can be accessed by the public.

Greg Luton, of English Heritage, said: “We face challenges in the years ahead to help save many other at risk sites including nationally-important windmills, earthworks and archaeological sites under cultivation.

“The way forward is to build on partnerships with owners, developers, Natural England, councils, trusts and local groups.”