Nearly 100 visitors gathered at Keymer’s Oldland Mill on Sunday to celebrate the 40-year success story of its restoration and maintenance after 70 years of decline.
The idea of restoring Oldland Mill was first mooted at a talk given by Kim Leslie of the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum to a public meeting in Hassocks in the long hot summer of 1976.
Volunteers of the Hassocks Amenity Association soon took up the challenge, though there were many challenges, legal, structural, mechanical and financial to be met along the way.
The 40-year project relied upon a mixture of local volunteers, expert knowledge, community fundraising and government grants.
Having been reduced to a timber frame during the restoration process, it was not until 2003 that the mill was returned to its previous appearance with the completion of the white painted wooden cladding that gives it its stark appearance against a deep blue sky.
In 2008 the new sweeps were turned by the power of the wind for the first time and in October of that year the first flour was ground.
As with any old building, upkeep of the mill is an ongoing project, with volunteers meeting every Thursday to carry out routine maintenance and upgrades, such as the digital weather station that was fitted in recent years.
The mill is open on the first Sunday of every month from April to October, with a number of “Special Event Days”. The next open day will be the late summer Special Event Day “Music at the Mill” on Sunday 4 September.
As last year, this will feature music from the nationally renowned Copper Family singers of Rottingdean.
Members of the family have been singing and documenting close harmony folk songs since at least as far back as the 1850s and their ancestors would have practised these as they walked across the South Downs, passing the mill on their journey to market in Mid Sussex.
A free shuttle bus will be provided every 20 minutes from The Thatched Inn, Ockley Lane.
Further details of open days, heritage, news and volunteering can be found at www.oldlandwindmill.co.uk