Denver
towermill



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Norfolk Windmills


c.1910 with steam chimney
c.1910 with steam chimney


Denver towermill was built in 1835 for John Porter and a stone tablet bearing the inscription JMP 1835 was set below the stage on the north side. The mill replaced an earlier postmill on the same site.


The large six storey mill tower was 59 ft to its curb. Four double shuttered patent sails were used to power 3 pairs of overdriven stones. One pair of sails had 10 bays of 3 shutters and the other pair had 9 bays of 3 shutters and striking was via lever mechanism. The ball finial topped, horizontally boarded ogee cap had a gallery and held a 6 bladed fan. The stones were on the third floor where a reefing stage gave access to the striking and brake chains.


The machinery was mainly of wood with an iron mortice spur wheel mounted on the octagonal upright shaft. The wallower had an iron hub and a wooden rim through which 41 wooden cogs were morticed. A small iron bevel ring on the underside of the wallower provided power for the sack hoist, the bollard itself being beltdriven from the geared drive shaft.


The composite moulded millstones were marked:
BARTON & SON LTD. MAKERS GLOUCESTER and GARNER MARK LANE LONDON


1st September 1932
1st September 1932

By 1863 John Gleaves had added a 12hp steam engine that drove a further 3 sets of stones in an adjoining building. This was later replaced by a Blackstone oil engine that drove a Tattersall Roller Plant during the first quarter of the 1900s.


Mention was made in 1974 of 2 millbills welded and pinned together stamped L. FISHER SPALDING


Six floors:
5th floor - Dust floor
4th floor - Hopper floor

3rd floor - Stone floor and stage
2nd floor - Meal floor
1st floor - Loadiung floor
Ground floor - Mill base


18th May 1979
18th May 1979


Tithe map 1837
Tithe map 1837 - as redrawn by Harry Apling

Tithe Award 1838
Map - Copied & corrected from Old Survey, November 1837 by Charles Mumford, Downham.
Owner: John Porter
Occupier: do

No. 254

Occupier: Thomas Hovell
No. 283

Occupiers: Robert Boughten
& William Allen
No. 284

House & Mill


Beer House



Cottage & Garden

0a. 2r. 5p.


0a. 0r. 21p.



0a. 0r. 16p.
---------------
0a. 0r. 2p.










Tithe 15s.


To Millers. To be Let for a term of years from Michaelmas 1863
An excellent
Tower Windmill working three pair of stones with steam mill of 12 horse power ... within one mile of a Market Town & within ½ mile of a Railway Station in West Norfolk.
The property is in a populous district and is in perfect condidtion and a lucrative trade has been carried upon the premises for upwards of forty years.
Apply to Mr. T. L. Reed, Solr. Downham Market.

Norfolk Chronicle - 4th April 1863


WINDMILL
Well situated for Trade with Stable, Sheds & about 2 acres of LAND, to be Let at Michaelmas.

Apply to T. L. Reed, Solr. Downham Market.
Lynn Advertiser - 6th August 1870

To Millers
Denver, Norfolk
To be Let or Sold With Possession at Michaelmas next
A Brick TOWER WIND MILL driving six pairs of Stones with a Steam Mill attached, with large granaries, excellent Dwelling house, Gardens, Stables & convenient premises. Together with a Paddock & Miller’s Cottage, as now in the occupation of Mr. James Gleaves. A lucrative business has been carried on upon the premises for upwards of 50 years.

Apply to T. L. Reed, Solr. Downham Market.
Lynn Advertiser - 30th August 1873

Denver near Downham Market

Valuable Freehold Investments

Walter Wayman

Is favoured with instructions to Sell by Auction at the Crown Hotel, Downham Market, on Friday May 29, 1896 at 4 o’c in the afternoon precisely, the following valuable

 

FREEHOLD PROPERTIES, viz:

Lot 1. All that convenient & well situated brick built & slated DWELLING HOUSE containing six bedrooms, dressing room, drawing & dining rooms, kitchen, scullery, dairy, store room, cellar and coal house adjoining, with pleasure & kitchen gardens in excellent condition; also a Bake house with oven to hold from 25 to 30 stones of bread, riding stable, stable with two loose boxes, gig house, cart lodge, chaff house, straw loft, granary, piggeries; also large Engine house & shed. The outbuildings are brick built & tiled. Also the SIX STOREY TOWER WIND-MILL AND STEAM MILL adjoining, each containing three pairs of stones; also a convenient office. The property is bounded on the north by the road leading from Denver to Denver Sluice, east & west by Denver Common & south by land belonging to CAIUS COLLEGE, Cambridge & has been in the occupation of the family of Mr. James Gleaves, the present occupier, for upwards of 50 years.

The Auctioneer desires to call attention of millers, bakers & others to this lot, the position of which affords excellent opportunities for a lucrative & extensive milling & baking business being carried on.

Lot 2. All that brick built & tiled COTTAGE containing two bedrooms & two lower rooms with washhouse adjoining, small garden, piggeries, hen house etc. & also an excellent piece or parcel of fine old Pasture Land adjoining, the whole containing two acres (more or less) & bounded on the north by Denver Common, east by land of Mrs. Bell, south by Grass Lane & west by land of CAIUS COLLEGE & now in the occupation of Mr. James Gleaves.
Possession of both lots will be given on completion of the purchase. For further particulars & conditions of sale apply to the Auctioneer, Downham Market; to W.A. Mellor, Esq., Solicitor, Downham Market or to Messrs. Reed & Wayman, Solicitors, Downham Market.
Lynn Advertiser - 23rd May 1896


Downham
Property Sale. On Friday 29th ult. Mr. Walter Wayman offered for Sale by Auction at the Crown Hotel …

At the same time Mr. Wayman offered in two lots the mill & premises together with a cottage & two acres of land at Denver, lately the property of Mr. James Gleaves. Both lots were withdrawn.
Norfolk Chronicle - 6th June 1896


In the matter of the Deed of Assignment for the benefit of creditors executed on the 27th day of April 1896 by James Gleaves of Denver in the county of Norfolk, miller & baker.
The creditors of the above named James Gleaves who have not already sent in their claims are required on or before the 20th day of November 1896 to send in their names & addresses & the particulars of their debts or claims to us on behalf of William Hitchcock of Kings Lynn in the said county of Norfolk, bank manager & Walter Wayman of Denver aforesaid, auctioneer, the trustees under the said deed, or in default thereof they will be excluded from the benefit of the dividend proposed to be declared.

Dated this 3rd Day of November 1896

 

Reed & Wayman

Downham Market,

Solicitors for the above-named Trustees

William Hitchcock manager of Messrs. Gurneys, Birkbeck, Barclay, Buxton & Cresswell, bankers. (Barclay & Co., Ltd.)

Lynn Advertiser - 7th November 1896


May 1993 May 1993
May 1993

c.1924 an oil engine took over auxiliary power from the steam engine and was alleged to have been started by using a shotgun cartridge, presumably without the shot.


In December 1937 the Society awarded their Certificate No. 13, 'A record of the Society's appreciation of zeal in the maintenance of these beautiful structures' to

THOMAS EDWIN HARRIS
DENVER MILLS, NORFOLK
Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings - Windmill Section - 1937

Mr. C. J. Staines, son-in-law of Thomas Edward Harris and William Chapman both worked for Thomas Edwin Harris.


Denver … This is a magnificent specimen of a tower mill with two galleries, four shuttered sweeps, fantail & dome-shaped cupola. It is over a hundred years old, but it is still working regularly, grinding barley-meal & other grain. It is a five storied building. Under the cap is a storeroom, under that the meal room, with the hoppers to feed the two sets of millstones on the stage floor, below which are the bins & the weighing room. This mill has been recently overhauled & is now fitted with electric light. There is an adjoining building in which an oil-engine is used for grinding wheat for flour, the windmill dealing ... ?
England of the Windmills - S.P.B. Mais - 1931


Mill catchment area for grist grinding - drawn by Harry Apling
Mill catchment area for grist grinding - drawn by Harry Apling

Norfolk County Council.
Report of Countryside Sub-Committee, 15.10.69
Ceased working 1942.
Maintained by Windmills Trust with some assistance from owner.


DEED OF GIFT
Dated 20 August 1973
Grantor – Mrs. Edith Mabel Staines, Mill House, Denver, Norfolk
To The Norfolk County Council
ALL THAT piece of land … together with the Corn Mill and outbuildings … known as Denver Mill
TOGETHER WITH a right of way … along the way … from and to the highway and to and from the property …
(among the Covenants) b. not to open the property … on any Sunday …
Schedule (Grantor’s title.):-
30 July 1971 Assent by the executors of Thomas Edwin Harris deceased to the grantor.
Seal of the Norfolk County Council affixed in the presence of:-

Bartle M. Edwards
L. Baines


... it was mainly grist work, grinding other people's corn from the scattered farms around Welney & Hilgay Fen ...
The carts would bring in a load one week & take it away the next ...
... we collected from an area about seven or eight miles radius from the mill. The distance was dictated to a certain extent by how far the horses could go out and back in a day.

Bill Chapman
Window on East Anglia - Clement Court
Eastern Daily Press - 15th November 1976


When windmilling ceased in 1941 after the mill was struck by lightning, the far sighted Thomas Edwin Harris ensured that the mill was repaired and maintained with a view to its eventual preservation.

In 1973 Norfolk County Council's Norfolk Windmills Trust took over the mill with a view to full restoration.


The preserved outbuildings include the mill house, steam mill, granary and stable block. One of the outbuildings directly under the mill originally had a section of its roof lowered to allow for the passage of the sails. The original wooden curb was replaced by reinforced concrete.


... the gales on the night of 2nd January 1976 lifted the cap & damaged the kerb. It was apparent that the cap had dropped back onto the kerb after being lifted, landing with its full weight on one set of wheels. The impact shattered the reinforced concrete kerb & cracked the brickwork below.
Martin Scott, Norfolk Windmills Trust - 1976


In April 1978, John Lawn had one of the old sails at Caston. The 10 bays of 3 shutters gave an overall length of 29ft and the 8ft 6ins width was made up of 1½ins - 2ft 6ins - 1½ins - 18ins - 1½ins - 4ft - 1½ins


STAINES - On July 3rd, 1983, peacefully, at her home, The Mill, Denver, EDITH MABEL, beloved wife of John, dear sister of Blanche and Dorothy. (Funeral service at St. Mary's Church, Denver, on Thursday, July 7th, at 2.30 p.m., followed by internment in the cemetery. Family flowers only please; donations, if desired, for cancer research and St. Mary's Church Restoration Fund at the church.)
Eastern Daily Press - 5th July 1983


No damage in the hurricane of 16th October 1987. However, the recently renovated cement rendering on the tower is breaking off. Court case pending.
Telephone call from John Staines to Harry Apling - 1987


14th March 2008
14th March 2008

In doing a research into my familys' history I found that I was related to John Porter who is recorded as being responsible for the building of the current Denver Tower Windmill in 1836. John Porter was my Gt, Gt, Grandfather. He was born in 1801 and died in 1862. In the Census for 1841 he is recorded as being a Corn Merchant and living at the Blue Lion Public House in Norfolk Street Kings Lynn. In the 1851 Census he is recorded as being an Innkeeper and Merchant. My relationship with the Porter family is through his youngest daughter Emma who married a local farmer named Hodgkinson.and subsequently went to live in Gooderstone. To date I have been unable to obtain any other information regarding John Porter and his family and would be interested in hearing from anyone who may have any knowlege about John Porter and/or his family. His wife's name was Alpolonia Bays and they had 2 sons and 4 daughters.
Michael Howard, Chelmsford - 17th April 2009


I think that my family may be connected to John Porter who built the mill. My ancestor, also John Porter, was born in Denver in around 1775 and married Sarah Smith there in 1799. They subsequently moved to Willingham, Cambs, where he worked as a millwright. They are connected by marriage to the Gleaves family of Willingham who occupied the mill in the 19th century. If anyone else, knows what the connections may be, please would they let me know. Thanks.
Sally Leaworthy - 30th July 2009


Mill working 9th November 2008
Mill working 9th November 2008

Mill site with mill working 9th November 2008 Mill site with mill working 9th November 2008
Mill site with mill working 9th November 2008

UFO 9th March 2010
UFO 9th March 2010

UFO photographed in the sky over Norfolk's Denver Mill

A photograph showing a UFO in the night sky by Denver Mill in west Norfolk has appeared in the national press.
The photo was taken by Peter Rye who was shooting the county's last working windmill for a calendar.
The caretakers of the mill, Lindsay and Mark Abel, are not surprised at the amount of interest in the photo.
"It's not the sort of thing that happens every day. There are lot of people who are interested in this sort of phenomena," said Mark.
While nobody can claim that the light in the image is proof of extra-terrestrial life, it certainly remains a mystery.
"An Unidentified Flying Object is not identifiable. This is the whole phenomena," said Mark.
"People can put whatever sort of interpretations they want on these things," he added.
A recognisable landmark, the 19th Century mill near Downham Market has always been used by pilots as an indication of their position.
"During the war the Germans used it as a navigational aid and the RAF still use it. Whether this is just going from beyond international to cosmic significance, I don't know," said Mark.
Baffled
When Peter Rye showed his photo to Mark and Lindsay they were baffled.
"We had a look at it on the computer and blew it up really quite big. Apart from the green light that you can see on the front, there's an eye shape in the background," said Lindsay.
"I can understand the green light being a reflection of something... but it's this rather peculiar grey shape behind it," she added.
The windmill has recently been in the news regarding questions about its future funding. Mark is hoping that the UFO is a good sign.
"With the problems we've had of late we've had a tremendous amount of support and I'm just regarding this as some support coming from a very long way away."

BBC Norfolk - 23rd March 2010


In November 2010, the condition of the running gear had got so bad we couldn't really turn the stones any more let alone make flour.  The bearings were shot, the whole drive chain was so far out of alignment to be dangerous and the stones were basically not milling.  The Trust hadn't done anything so Paul came in and we stripped the whole lot down, re-machined, re-aligned and re-assembled properly (there remain major issues but at least it is now better than how it had been done!) and on the 15 th January we ground 756 Kg in the day - without doubt the most since she went out of commission in 1941!  My daughter Sally has now also joined us and taken to milling very successfully and during the three days between the 5 th and 7 th February we milled a further 1½ tonnes between us – her first half tonne solo on the Monday.  There is still a great deal to be done, but again this just goes to show it is worth doing and doing properly!
Mark Abel - 26th February 2011


Eastern Daily Press 5th October 2011
Eastern Daily Press 5th October 2011

7th October 2011 7th October 2011
7th October 2011

Broken sails 7th October 2011 Broken canister 7th October 2011
Broken sails 7th October 2011
Broken canister 7th October 2011

Funding from English Heritage or National Lottery hold key to future of
Denver Mill, near Downham Market

Denver Mill was one of the country's last working windmills until a sail broke off and showered debris around the complex last October.
Three sails were removed shortly after the incident by the Norfolk Millwright Alliance and Wave Trade who also carried out the tricky task of removing the last sail and stock.
Mark and Lindsey Abel rent the six-storey building from the Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust (NHBT).
Mr Abel said: “This is a tragic day not only for us but also for Norfolk. It is heartbreaking to no longer be able to look up and see the sails turning.
“This was the last commercial windmill in Norfolk and currently there isn't much hope of all four sails going back up anytime soon which is quite wicked.
“The county of Norfolk was once highly regarded as the leading light in heritage work but now we are the subject of much ridicule because we don't seem to know how to keep sites like this going.
“I had hoped this project was the thing to change all of that and we were so near to achieving our dream.
“It will now be impossible for us to make progress without the support of the people who own it.”
Denver Mill has towered over the Fens for 176 years and was given to the county in 1969 before being sold to the NHBT by Norfolk County Council.
The Abels took over in 2008 to promote and preserve traditional country life and the complex, south of Downham Market, quickly become a popular tourist attraction.
Mr Abel continued: “There are still some options left for the return to milling and sail here which need to be further investigated and we are determined to keep fighting on.
“But we can't afford to fund the repair work, which we believe will be in the region of £80,000, and the trust has also said it doesn't have the money. Our only hope now is for the trust to get a grant from English Heritage or the National Lottery.”
The NHBT has previously said it cannot fund the repairs at the complex, which which also has a bakery, shop and café, because its £40,000 county council funding has been axed.
If insurers fail to cover the costs of repairs, chairman John Birkbeck has said the trust will look to English Heritage or the National Lottery for a grant.
Paul Abel, from the Norfolk Millwright Alliance, was part of the small team which worked in tough conditions to remove the sail and stock.
He said: “The last sail was the only good one left so it will be preserved until the remaining three sails are made and stock reconstructed – whenever that happens.
“It was very cold and wet up there. There was also quite a lot of wind which made it difficult.”

He added: “We are quoting the trust to do the work, as are other people, but I don't have any idea if they will ever be able to afford to pay for it or not.”
David Blackmore, Eastern Daily Press - 12th January 2012

Last sail removed from
Denver Windmill in Norfolk

The remaining sail of Norfolk's last commercial flour mill still powered by the wind has been removed.
The sail on Denver Mill, near Downham Market, was taken away on Wednesday for safety reasons after a stress fracture damaged the wind gear.
"We'll get her turning again, but it's tragic when you see her like this. Poor old thing, she's lost her dignity," said leaseholder Mark Able.
The mill, built in 1835, is owned by the Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust.
It took a team of millwrights, lead by Paul Able, six hours to remove the remaining sail.
He said: "The bolt was completely seized in the stock but eventually we got it out enough to cut in half which released the sail quite dramatically.
"This is the only remaining good sail so this will be stored until the remaining three can be rebuilt and new stocks are constructed."
A stress fracture in one of the metal stocks, the arms which hold the sails in place, broke in October 2011 causing the sails to collapse into each other.
Debris fell to the ground close to a group children from Clenchwarton Community Primary School, near King's Lynn. No-one was hurt.
Repair and restoration of the sails is estimated at £100,000.
"We've already spent around £100,000 on the mill over the last couple of years," said Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust secretary Dr Douglas Munro.
"Nobody could have predicted the stress fracture back in October. We now need to look at the remaining stock, sail and shutters to see what can be salvaged.
"We are in the process of applying to grant-making bodies to try and secure funds to restore the wind gear, but this will take many months to get resolved."

BBC Norfolk News - 12th January 2012


Couple's shock as Denver Mill owners reveal their lease won't be renewed

Denver Mill was one of the country's last working windmills until a sail broke off and showered debris around the complex, near Downham Market, last October.
All four sails and the stock were removed in January and the Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust (NHBT), which owns the site, said it needed to raise £100,000 to get the sails turning again.
Mark and Lindsay Abel, who rent the six-storey building, launched a campaign in February to help restore the historic mill in the Fens to its former glory.
But the couple have now received a letter from the NHBT which states their five-year lease will not be renewed and come to an end next May.
Mrs Abel said: “We have got a year to fight and we are determined to fight to stay here.
“We have managed to build the business up to a point where it is profitable and now they {the trust] are taking it away from us.
“We originally asked for a 15-year lease because we knew we needed five years to turn this place around but in the end we ended up taking out a five-year lease.
“We were given the opportunity to buy it from the trust but we weren't/aren't in a position to do so. We are now exploring all options available to us to ensure we can achieve our dream here.”
Denver Mill has towered over the Fens for some 180 years and remains a popular tourist attraction and landmark south of Downham Market.
The mill was given to the county in 1971 before being sold to the NHBT by Norfolk County Council. The Abels took over in 2008.
The NHBT has said it cannot fund the repairs at the complex, which also has a bakery, shop and café, because its £40,000 county council funding has been axed.
John Birkbeck, the trust's chairman, said: “The complex is not generating enough income and we feel we can run the it more effectively.
“We have not take this decision lightly but we want to get along with our tenants and cannot keep on fighting.”
The trust has been given a donation of £15,000 from the Garfield Weston Foundation for the repair works at the mill.
Mr Birkbeck has previously said the trust will look to English Heritage or the National Lottery for a grant for the rest of the amount needed.
After the sails and stock were removed in January, Mr Abel said: “It is heartbreaking to no longer be able to look up and see the sails turning.
“This was the last commercial windmill in Norfolk and currently there isn't much hope of all four sails going back up anytime soon which is quite wicked.
“The county of Norfolk was once highly regarded as the leading light in heritage work but now we are the subject of much ridicule because we don't seem to know how to keep sites like this going.
“I had hoped this project was the thing to change all of that and we were so near to achieving our dream. It will now be impossible for us to make progress without the support of the people who own it.”

David Blackmore, EDP24 - Friday 15th June 2012

Calls for Denver Mill to be taken over by the public

Denver Mill should be owned by the people.
That is the call from the team who run it at the moment.
They are trying to raise enough cash to buy the windmill as they are worried it will fall into private hands and shut.
At the moment Denver Mill is owned by The Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust but they have given the Abel family, who run the mill, a notice to end the business's tenancy next May and to run it themselves.
Now the family want local people to buy shares and keep it as it is now.
Lindsay Abel said “the windmill was originally bequeathed to the people of Norfolk via the County Council by the last miller's sister and a vast amount of public funding has been invested here. We want the people who love the windmill and who are interested in its history to be able to own it.  This way it will remain owned by lots of people across the country”. 
The shares will be available at £25 each and they would like interested parties to contact them on either enquiries@denvermill.plus.com or by letter to Denver Mill Ltd, Sluice Road, Denver, Norfolk PE38 0EG.

KLFM - Friday 3rd August 2012


Couple will not give up their bid to buy historic Norfolk mill

A couple have vowed to carry on their quest to buy a historic mill in West Norfolk despite its owners insisting the complex is not for sale.
Mark and Lindsay Abel, who rent the six-storey Denver Mill, want to set up an independent company and sell shares to raise enough money to take over the site and continue to promote and preserve traditional country life.
But this scheme appeared doomed to failure as the Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust confirmed its focus was to push ahead with plans to take over the running of the site once the Abels' tenancy ends next year.
Mr Abel has, however, said the announcement has not put the couple off trying to buy the complex, which also includes a bakery, shop and café.
He continued: “We have grown very attached to it and, as a miller, it is hard to not get emotionally involved when you are working such a magnificent machine.
“We know from our own experience that in order to make the site sustainable you have got to be prepared to put your heart and soul into it. It is not a nine to five job and cannot be done at arm's length.”
Mrs Abel added: “People living locally and our customers from across the country have been very enthusiastic about this idea.
“We want the people who love the windmill and who are interested in its history to be able to own it.
“This way it will remain owned by lots of people across the country.”
Denver Mill has towered over the Fens for some 180 years and remains a popular tourist attraction and landmark south of Downham Market.
It was also one of the country's last working windmills until a sail broke off and showered debris around the complex just over a year ago.
All four sails and the stock were removed in January and the NHBT said it could not afford the £100,000 needed to get the sails turning again.
The Abels were then told in June that their five-year lease would not be renewed and would come to an end next May.
Douglas Munro, from the trust, said the Abels were offered the chance to buy the mill for £420,000 – far less than the market value of around £550,000 – but after allowing them two months to consider the offer with out a response, it was with drawn and notice was served on the couple.
In total, four groups have come forward and spoken to the trust with a view of either running the site or taking it over the mill once the Abels' lease runs out.
A statement on the trust's website also states the trust is “confident” that it can manage the site and that it will remain “open and attractive” to visitors.
Denver Mill was given to the county in 1971 before being sold to the NHBT by Norfolk County Council. The Abels took over in 2008.
The trials and tribulations of Denver Mill also appeared in the final episode of BBC2's The Fixer, with Alex Polizzi, in March where the hotelier tried to turn around the Abels' business.

David Blackmore, EDP24 - Thursday 25th October 2012


New team to run historic Denver Mill

The trust has revealed Samantha and Graham Styles will have “important roles” in helping the management of the Denver Mill site.
Three of the trust's directors and its secretary, Dr Douglas Munro, will also be working in the new management team, which will be running the site from June this year.
Mr and Mrs Styles live nearby and Mrs Styles was head of confectionary baking at Denver Mill from May 2010 until April 2012.
Mr Styles has been running a family building business in Essex.
Denver Mill was one of the country's last working windmills until a sail broke off and showered debris around the complex, near Downham Market, in October 2011.
All four sails and the stock were removed in January last year and the trust said it needed to raise £100,000 to get the sails turning again.
Denver Mill has towered over the Fens for some 180 years and remains a popular tourist attraction and landmark south of Downham Market.
The mill was given to the county in 1971 before being sold to the trust by Norfolk County Council.
Mark and Lindsay Abel took it over in 2008 but their lease runs out in May. They are set to move their business to Hanse House in King's Lynn.
EDP24 - Wednesday 9th January 2013


Denver windmill is set for re-opening

Denver's historic windmill will re-open to the public for the first time tomorrow following a major refurbishment.
The new couple running the attraction are husband and wife team Graham and Sam Styles, one of whom has a previous connection to the attraction.
Mrs Styles was head of confectionary baking at the mill for two years until April last year and admitted: “It's been my baby.”
The mill will be open to the public between 10am and 4pm and Mrs Styles said she was hoping for a steady stream of visitors on its first day.
“We have put bits and pieces around the town and villages”, she said.
The couple say tomorrow's event will be a smaller opening as they are planning to stage an official re-launch event at the mill later this year.
Mr and Mrs Styles are managing the mill on behalf of its owners, the Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust.
They took over the site in June and have spent the past two months revamping the tea room and shop inside the building.
“It's had a complete refurbishment from the floor upwards”, Mrs Styles said.
The tea room has been extended into where the shop, which will continue to stock a range of Norfolk-made produce, once stood.
And Mr Styles, who is a carpenter, has renewed the kitchen facilities himself.
A budget of £25,000 has been set aside for the initial phase of the reopening.
Trust secretary Dr Douglas Munro said: “It's very much opening as we go along.”The mill has been facing an uncertain future in recent times after the last of its sails had to be removed in January last year.
Since then, the Trust has been working on a £150,000 project to repair the mill's wind gear, which would enable the sails to turn once again, and rendering on the floor of the mill, which has become badly cracked.
Dr Munro said around £25,000 has already been raised for the works, while grant applications have also been made to a number of bodies, including English Heritage.

Lynn News - 9th August 2013


Norfolk's iconic Denver Mill reopens to the public

The landmark attraction, which towers over the Fens, has been empty since the previous tenants left in May.
“It's been chaos but we're geting there,” said Mr Styles. “Everyone's been running around like headless chickens as you can imagine.
“As soon as we're open and we start getting some money in we can start putting the thing back together.”
The main things in need of putting back together are the mill's giant sails, which were removed in October 2011 after one of the blades came free from its mounting.
The Styles and the mill's owners, the Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust, are looking at how they can raise the £100,000 needed to restore them.
Mrs Styles, who worked as head of confectionary baking at the mill for two years under its previous tenants, said: “We're hoping for some funding from English Heritage and the National Lottery. You talk to anyone in Denver, Downham and Wisbech – nearly everyone knows there's a windmill.
“The people here are lovely. People have been stopping us in the street, saying: ‘We're so pleased you've taken it on'.”
The cafe, bakery and local produce shop at the mill will reopen at 10am today. The Styles hope to add a coffee lounge in a former machine room with belts, pulleys and switchgear belonging to the steam and oil-powered gear which replaced wind as a source of power for the millstones in the early 1940s.“It's like something out of a Frankenstein film,” said Mr Styles. “We've got to let people see it.”
One engine – in true Fen style – is cranked not by hand, but by firing a 12-bore cartridge to turn its cylinders over.
As well as grinding corn, the mill's workshops ground out parts for munitions during the war. It also proved of use to the Luftwaffe.
“The Germans used it as a landmark, which is why it was never bombed,” said Mrs Styles.
As well as restoring the mill, the couple hope to find out more about its past.
“This was the heart of the village for years, right up to the 1960s,” said Mr Styles. “So it would be lovely to talk to anyone who knows anything about it.”

Chris Bishop, EDP24 - Saturday 10th August 2013


Hopes for Lottery money to repair Denver Mill

Owners of Denver Mill hope to get a Lottery grant to complete repair work to the historic building.
Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust is hoping to raise more than £135,000 to complete vital repair work to the mill's sails and exterior cladding.
English Heritage has placed the mill on its at risk register.
Trust secretary Douglas Munro is keen to stress that the building is structurally safe and is still open to tours.
He said: “This is nothing to worry about. It is purely a mechanism to access grants. If you are not on the at risk register, you have little chance of getting any money."
“I am hopeful we will be able to get some money from the lottery.”
The mill, a Grade II listed building , was constructed in 1835 but work ceased at the site in 1941 after it was struck by lightning.
The mill was given to Norfolk County Council in 1971 before being purchased by the trust in 1995.
The trust needs £100,000 to restore the sails, which collapsed into each other after a metal stock broke in 2011.
Debris fell close to youngsters from Clenchwarton Primary School but no-one was injured.
Concrete cladding which was installed in the 1990s is now starting to bubble and blister and allowing damp into the building.
An architect will be visiting the site soon to conduct a survey to give the trust further advice on the full extent of the repair work before a Lottery application will be made.
Lynn News - 21st October 2013


On 28th March 2013, Mark & Linsay Abel, having left the mill, opened a bakery and tearoom at Hanse House on the South Quay in Kings Lynn. They retained their trading name of Denver Mills.
On 23rd September 2013, the Abels moved the business to The Sandboy pub in the Gayton Road at Bawsey.


Denver windmill is set for re-opening

Denver's historic windmill will re-open to the public for the first time tomorrow following a major refurbishment.
The new couple running the attraction are husband and wife team Graham and Sam Styles, one of whom has a previous connection to the attraction.
Mrs Styles was head of confectionary baking at the mill for two years until April last year and admitted: “It's been my baby.”
The mill will be open to the public between 10am and 4pm and Mrs Styles said she was hoping for a steady stream of visitors on its first day.
“We have put bits and pieces around the town and villages”, she said.
The couple say tomorrow's event will be a smaller opening as they are planning to stage an official re-launch event at the mill later this year.
Mr and Mrs Styles are managing the mill on behalf of its owners, the Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust.
They took over the site in June and have spent the past two months revamping the tea room and shop inside the building.
“It's had a complete refurbishment from the floor upwards”, Mrs Styles said.
The tea room has been extended into where the shop, which will continue to stock a range of Norfolk-made produce, once stood.
And Mr Styles, who is a carpenter, has renewed the kitchen facilities himself.
A budget of £25,000 has been set aside for the initial phase of the reopening.
Trust secretary Dr Douglas Munro said: “It's very much opening as we go along.”The mill has been facing an uncertain future in recent times after the last of its sails had to be removed in January last year.
Since then, the Trust has been working on a £150,000 project to repair the mill's wind gear, which would enable the sails to turn once again, and rendering on the floor of the mill, which has become badly cracked.
Dr Munro said around £25,000 has already been raised for the works, while grant applications have also been made to a number of bodies, including English Heritage.

Lynn News - 9th August 2013


My Great Great Grandfather was John Gleaves, who with his son James operated the Denver mill for many years.  John’s daughter was Sarah Gleaves,  who married my Great Grandfather William Henry Rose, a large farmer at Ten Mile Bank.  We have carried out a wide amount of family history on all sides of our family, including greatly the Gleaves connection, and it would be very good to exchange info with Sally Leaworthy in particular.  The name Porter is frequently encountered around Hilgay, Southery, and Ten Mile Bank.
As a matter of further interest, we are related to the Pollards, (through my Proctor grandmother), who operated the mill at Stoke_Ferry - we are not so forward with our searches in that direction just yet.

Anthony Rose - 12th November 2014


White's 1845: Philip Beeton, millwright


1835: Towermill built for John Porter, replacing the earlier postmill

White's 1836: John Porter, corn miller

Tithe award 1838: John Porter, also owner of nearby beerhouse and cottages

White's 1845: John Porter, corn miller

c.1853: John Gleaves

White's 1854: John Gleaves, corn miller

1862: John Porter died

April 1863: Mill advertised to be let

White's 1864: John Gleaves, corn miller

1865: John Gleaves and James Gleaves (son) running the mill

August 1870: Mill advertised for let

1872: John Gleaves, miller

August 1873: Mill advertised for sale or let as in occupation of James Gleaves

Kelly's 1879: James Gleaves, miller

Census 1881: John Gleaves (64) b.Willingham, Cambs., corn miller
Elizabeth Gleaves (56) b.Willingham, Cambs.
Rebecca Gleaves (85) b.Willingham, Cambs., widow (mother)

White's 1883: James Gleaves, corn miller

White's 1890: James Gleaves, corn miller & corn merchant; Mr. John Gleaves

Census 1891: John Gleaves (74) b.Willingham, Cambs., corn miller
Elizabeth Gleaves, b.Willingham, Cambs.

Kelly's 1892: James Gleaves, miller (wind & steam)

Kelly's 1896: James Gleaves, miller (wind & steam)

27th April 1896: James Gleaves made a Deed of Assignment for benefit of his creditors

May 1896: Mill advertised for sale by auction in occupation of James Gleaves

November 1896: Mill finally sold after at least two attempts. Bought by Thomas Edward Harris

Kelly's 1900: Thomas Edward Harris, miller (steam & wind)

Kelly's 1904: Thomas Edward Harris, miller (steam & wind)

22nd February 1908: Severe gale damage and mill put out of order

Kelly's 1912: Thomas Edward Harris, miller (steam & wind)

Kelly's 1916: Thomas Edward Harris, miller (steam & wind)

Kelly's 1922: Thomas Edward Harris, miller (steam & wind)

Kelly's 1925: Tom Edward Harris, miller (oil & wind)

1925: Thomas Edward Harris died and left mill to son Thomas Edwin Harris

1927: New sails fitted

Kelly's 1929: Thomas Edwin Harris, miller (oil & wind)

Kelly's 1933: Thomas Edwin Harris, miller (oil & wind)

Kelly's 1937: Thomas Edwin Harris, miller (oil & wind) Downham Market 188

December 1937: Thomas Edwin Harris received the prestigious SPAB Windmill Section Certificate

1941: Mill struck by lightning damaging one of the sails and windmilling ceased. Diesel milling continued

1949: Mill preserved with skeleton sails & fan

1969: Thomas Edwin Harris died

1969: Mrs. Edith Staines (Thomas Harris' elder sister) offered the mill to Norfolk County Council

8th June 1972: EDP published photo of mill with one sail missing and damage to the stage

20th August 1973: Deed of Gift signed. Only outlay to NCC being legal costs

1975: O. J. Staines

25th June 1975: EDP reported restoration work was being undertaken by Lennard & Lawn (Millwrights) Ltd.

2nd June 1976: Cap lifted by a gale and dropped back damaging the curb

1995: Mill purchased by Norfolk Windmills Trust, later to be absorbed by the Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust

April 2000: Mill opened to the public after full restoration - see links page

June 2008: Mill taken over by Mark Abel & family

2008: Mill working

January 2010: Mill under threat of closure due to work not carried out by NCC

9th March 2010: Strange green eye shape appeared on night photo of mill by Peter Rye - made national press

2010: Mill running gear out of alignment and mill ceased working

15th January 2011: 756kg flour ground - most since at least 1941

4th October 2011: Mill sail stock broke while mill working causing severe damage

June 2012: Mark & Lindsay Abel informed that their lease would not be renewed

August 2012: Shares for ownership of the mill offered for sale at £25

July 2013: Graham & Samantha Styles take over runing of the mill complex



If you have any memories, anecdotes or photos please let us know and we may be able to use them to update the site. By all means telephone 01263 713658 or

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