Historic windmill gets new lease of life as restoration work is completed

Coun Alan Kerr and building surveyor Phil Close, at Whitburn Windmill.
Coun Alan Kerr and building surveyor Phil Close, at Whitburn Windmill.

One of the coastline’s most familiar landmarks has been given a new lease of life thanks to extensive restoration work.

Whitburn Windmill has been preserved for future generations to enjoy after being refurbished by South Tyneside Council.

Whitburn Windmill

Whitburn Windmill

The work means that the structure, which dates back to 1790, has now been removed from the ‘vulnerable’ category on the council’s Grade II Listed Buildings ‘at risk’ register.

The restoration work included repairing the lime mortar and decaying plaster, replacing internal timber floors and restoring the windmill blades.

The tower windmill was built using stone from local magnesian limestone quarries and was used to grind corn from local farms which would be used to make bread.

It replaced the previous windmill which had been blown down in strong gales.

The three-storey-high building stopped being used during the 1890s when steam mills took over.

During the Second World War the mill was used as a lookout post to detect a possible invasion from enemy aircraft.

After the war the mill was regularly used by the nearby Territorial Army base for training.

Coun Alan Kerr, deputy leader of South Tyneside Council with responsibility for culture, said: “Whitburn Windmill is one of the borough’s most iconic landmarks.

“I am delighted that we have been able to protect it.

“The building is a wonderful part of our heritage with such a fascinating history, even playing an important wartime role.”

He added: “The extensive repairs and restoration work mean that future generations will continue to enjoy this historically significant building.”

The project also involved renewing surrounding footpaths and removing shrubs and roots that were beginning to damage the structure.

The work was carried out by North East firm, RHD Construction & Environmental Contractors Ltd.

The earliest known records of a mill on this site date back to a 1779 coastal shipping survey, which shows a post mill in Whitburn.

A post mill was the earliest form of windmill and the current structure was built in 1790.

South Tyneside Council took ownership of the mill in 1960 from the Church Commissioners.

At that time it was an empty shell, as all the inner machinery had been removed 100 years earlier.