Monday, 12 March 2018

200 Years of Stevens' Mill exhibition - we need your help!

The new bedstone is now in its place, and mill volunteers are concentrating on making sure that the mill is safe for visitors when we re-open on the 1st and 2nd of April for our "Easter Egg Hunt" event.
We are also preparing to celebrate the bicentenary of Stevens’ Mill in 2020 with a community exhibition, which launches at “Burwell at Large” this weekend.

The exhibition will be launched on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th March at the “Burwell at Large” event, a showcase for all of the fantastic community groups which are active in the village. But the panels which go on display won’t be finished, because the aim of the exhibition is to get people talking to each other and to the museum about their own experience of the Mill. We hope that the community groups which have been involved in the project and visitors who see the exhibition will contribute their own information. After Burwell at Large the exhibition will be at:

Burwell Library 20 March to 1 April

Newmarket Library  3-14 April

The mill itself for National Mills Weekend 12-13 May – come and enjoy free entry and a whole weekend of activities to celebrate the “Mill for All Seasons” project!

If you would like to know more about the project and/or be involved in it, please contact the museum at

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Our new bedstone has arrived!

Burwell Museum has reached a key point in its project to upgrade Burwells last remaining windmill, thanks to funding raised by National Lottery players
Stevens Mill, an icon of the East Cambridgeshire landscape, is a fully-working tower windmill and one of the most popular visitor attractions at Burwell Museum. Volunteers and staff at the Museum are celebrating today after welcoming a new arrival a 1-ton millstone which will form a key part of the ongoing Mill for All Seasons project, supported by funding from the National Lottery.
The stone is the first of a pair and has spent several months being rebuilt and dressed prepared for use by a trained millwright. It was settled into its new place by winching it up to the first floor, then very carefully lowering it over its drive spindle and fitting wedges underneath to ensure it is perfectly level. The second stone will be placed on top of this one once it has been restored and dressed.
Saved from demolition in the 1970s by a group of like-minded individuals, the mill has undergone extensive restoration over the years to bring it back to working order. Today, visitors can take a tour of the four-storey mill and see how flour is made. However, being so heavily reliant on the right weather conditions means that the mill cannot always be operated.
To enable the mill to run in all weathers and in any season just as it would have done in the early 20th century under its last owners, the Stevens brothers Burwell Museum Trust is restoring the mills external drive system and renovating a 1950s tractor to run it. It is hoped that the new stone and its partner will soon be balanced and ready to run, first by wind power when the wind is right and then via the external drive system whenever they are required.
Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the £19,400 funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is a real boon for the museum as it works to build interest in the mills 200th anniversary in 2020. Colin Marshall, Mill Team Manager, says This will be an important step in restoring the mill to its 1950s function. Having an engine-driven stone will allow us to teach more volunteers how to mill and to demonstrate milling more often to visitors.
Robyn Llewellyn, Head of HLF East of England, said: Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, were pleased to support the restoration of Burwells last surviving mill.  This project is enabling people of all ages to get involved from local residents adding their own voices to the interpretation to a new generation discovering this part of their communitys heritage for the first time.
If you would like to admire the new millstone, the museum will open to the public again on Easter Sunday and bank holiday Monday. It is then open on Thursdays, Sundays and bank holidays until the end of October. The Mill for All Seasons project will be celebrated at a free weekend event for National Mills Weekend on the 12th and 13th of May. If you would like to know more about the project and/or be involved in it, please contact the museum at

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Mill for All Seasons HLF project - the story so far

The latest news at the Mill is that we have a new HLF project called "A Mill for All Seasons". The project runs until June 2018 and will involve fitting new millstones and renovating parts of the mill mechanism so that we can mill using motor power as well as wind power. We'll be using this blog to keep you up to date with what we're doing; future posts  will be in more detail, but to start us off here is a quick report on progress so far!  

June 2017
·         Local groups contacted about outreach, school visits and community exhibition
·         Advertising in place for new volunteers

July 2017
·         Outreach sessions: Carers group, Scouts and Beavers, Swavesey WI
·         Press release sent out and interview with Radio Cambridgeshire

August 2017
·         Carers’ drop in session at the museum
        Day centre outreach talk
·         Windmill box created for use in handling talks and with special school pupils

September 2017
·         Mill workshop for volunteers
·         Visit from Burwell Early Learners
·         Talks for public at Fen Edge Harvest Fair event
·         Top millstone removed in preparation for being replaced

October 2017
·         Burwell brownies outreach and craft session
·         CPD session with teachers from Burwell Village College
·         U3A group visit

November 2017
·         Tractor refurbished and ready to run
·         Engage outreach group at library
·         Colourbox nursery visit
·         Burwell village college visit
·         Millwright dressing bedstone
·         Sensory box session with Castle School

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Update - 10 February 2015

After some of the strong winds last month one of the striking gears, the gear which controls whether the shutters are open or closed, was bent and the shutters were forced closed. 

Abseiling off the top of the mill, reattaching the striking gear after being bent back.

A brave member of the team abseiled up the sails to release the striking gear and gently lower it to the ground. Once on the ground they used the contraption pictured below to bend the gear back into shape, it was then raised back up and reattached to the sail.

The device used to bend the striking back into shape

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Update - 8 January 2015

The new girders shown on the last update were successfully fitted by the mill team. The new girders have stopped the distortion that used to occur as the cap turned in the wind.

The new girders installed in the cap either side of the brake wheel

Four guide wheels have been fitted in the cap, two at the rear and two on the sides, which keep the cap centred on top of the tower. They've fixed one of the major problems we had which was when the wind pushed on the cap, it caused it to slide backwards and disengaged the gearing that kept it facing the wind. However, for the past three weeks the mill has been rotating on its own to face the wind, and has been through some strong winds without any problems.

The two guide wheels at the back of the cap

Close up on one of the guide wheels

The waterproofing was completed just before the weather turned and apart from a very small leak in the cap, has also been successful.

The next job for the mill team will be to prepare the mill stones in order to start milling flour.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Update - 9 August 2014

It's been a while since we updated this Blog so here's what's been going on recently....

Since the sails were put on, the cap hasn't always been turning freely so it's been hard for the fantail to point the sails into the wind. To help the cap run more smoothly we have installed two skate bearings which greatly reduce the friction round the track below the cap.
Skate bearing
The cap was also distorting slightly when it turned, so we are aiming to stiffen it with metal girders. The girders were welded by Burwell firm N & G Marsh, and will be fitted in the next few weeks. They are very heavy and it will be quite a challenge for the Mill Team to lift them into place - they'll be hoisted through the trap doors used for taking sacks of grain to the top floor. That's the easy bit! Once the girders are on the top floor they will need to be installed in the cap. Easier said than done, but the Mill Team are confident they can meet the challenge.
Girders in the museum workshop in the process of being painted. You can get an idea of the size of the girders by comparing them to our ride-on lawn mower at the far end of the workshop.
 Waterproofing work on the cap is currently taking place (as you may have seen on the museum's Facebook page). This has involved hanging from the cap in a harness. Since the photo was taken a ladder has been purchased, which has been specially bent to the same curvature of the cap. It is hung from the finial and the person working on the waterproofing stands on the ladder but still wears a safety harness. This makes working much easier as tools can be hung on the ladder rungs. It is also more comfortable as the person's weight is not being taken by the harness the whole time! 
Waterproofing the cap

Friday, 28 March 2014

Grand Reopening of Stevens Mill

On Sunday 13th April Burwell Museum Trust reopens its windmill, Stevens' Mill, to the public following a year-long restoration.
The museum site will be open to the public from 12 noon - 4pm. Free Admission!
The reopening ceremony of the windmill starts at 12.30pm - Sir James Paice MP will officially open the windmill at 12.45pm.
This will be a great day out for all ages - bread making demonstrations, a cake decorating competition (see poster below for competition info), a working forge, tours of the windmill, make your own windmill out of junk and much more including a Time Capsule put together by local school children being hidden in the windmill.
This form can be downloaded from our website. 
They will also be available from the museum on the day.