Sail Shears Off Wimbledon Common Windmill

Costly repair bill faced to fix historic landmark

One of the sails on the iconic windmill on Wimbledon Common sheared off yesterday (August 2), causing a costly repair bill and forcing it to close to the public for the forseeable future.

As can be seen in the pictures on the right, the sail caused damage to the first floor roof of the historic windmill as well as its balustrading.

The damage occurred at 6.45pm not long after the Prudential RideLondon cycle ride had been past the Common. The windmill had been closed to visitors, and fortunately no-one was injured.

The windmill has stood on the site for nearly 200 years, and is a well-known part of Wimbledon’s skyline. It is a Grade II* Listed structure because of its special architecture and its historic importance locally.

Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators said in a statement that the condition of the windmill is checked regularly and the last main survey was carried out only a few weeks ago.

An assessment of the damage will take place over the next few days, but for the foreseeable future the building will have to remain closed to visitors. The repair work is likely to involve the removal of all sails and will be a complex job.

In April, the Conservators allocated £50,000 towards restoration works to the wooden tower structure, principally to stop water ingress that was weakening the first floor roof. Those works, which were planned to take place over the next couple of months, will have to be delayed while an assessment of the recent damage takes place. It is likely that a much larger sum will now be needed.

Keith Luck, Chairman of the Conservators (Trustees) said: "The damage to the structure is substantial. Thank goodness no one was injured. Commons staff undertook immediate measures to secure the site, pending an assessment by our specialist millwright.

"The windmill is very much a part of the heritage of Wimbledon Common and it is likely that these repairs will run to many thousands of pounds.The Conservators who are responsible for the fabric of the Windmill will actively pursue all possible avenues for funding the repairs, and this may include a fund-raising appeal for this much-loved building."

Andrew Simon Chairman of the Wimbledon Windmill Museum Trust said: "The Museum trustees will work with the Commons staff and Conservators to get the damage repaired as rapidly as possible, but the windmill cannot be opened to the public until this has been done."

August 3, 2015