Lambeth Council has awarded £360,000 to Brixton Windmill for the construction of a new education centre.
This year the mill celebrates Brixton Windmill's 200th birthday* so both the Friends of Windmill Gardens (FoWG) and the Council want to make it a memorable year.
And we’ve managed to do in a big way!
In addition to the many events the FoWG are arranging, the £360,000 the Council is providing will enable the construction of an education centre in Windmill Gardens for the use of the FoWG.
Currently the FoWG provide a very successful education programme for children at several local primary schools. This is carried out at the moment in the old One o’Clock Club building, where Holmewood Nurseries run Stay and Play and other community activities. As the Education Programme plans to expand into secondary schools and as Holmewood nurseries need to expand their activities to remain viable, the current building is totally inadequate. (It’s pretty inconvenient swapping furniture round all the time).
The money the Council will provide will enable a custom designed Education Centre to be built, with a flexible layout allowing for community activities as well as education. In addition it will leave Holmewood Nurseries in full possession of the one o’clock club building.
FoWG’s exciting plans include grinding locally grown wheat to make flour and baking bread. (The bread and beer festival in April attracted vast crowds who bought locally baked bread, locally made cakes and locally brewed beer). They are also considering selling the flour and bread, as well as souvenirs of the Windmill, and will of course continue their very popular guided tours of the mill, and the other events that are carried out throughout the year.
FoWG have their own web site, and details on all their activities appear there at brixtonwindmill.org
Cllr Adrian Garden , Labour Councillor for Brixton Hill ward
* The Windmill (aka John Ashby’s Mill) is the nearest surviving mill to the centre of London. It was built in 1816 in farmland on top of a hill. When in the mid 1850s the surrounding cornfields were replaced by houses, the strength of the wind reduced catastrophically, so the family decamped to their watermill on the Wandle at Mitcham. When that lease ran out in 1902, the family came back and installed a steam powered mill on the first floor, which is still there, though now powered by electricity. The business finally ceased in 1934.
Eventually - in 1957 - The mill and its surrounding buildings were bought by London County Council. Three years later the mill came under the control of Lambeth Council who demolished the outbuildings and laid the site out as an open space.
Over the next 40 odd years there were repeated cycles of refurbishment and vandalism until the Friends of Windmill Gardens (FoWG) were set up in 2003 to restore and reopen the Brixton Windmill. They also began a programme of annual free festivals and other community events. In 2010 the FoWG, in partnership with the Council succeeded in obtaining a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to pay for the restoration and fund a 5 year schools programme and for opening the building in the summer months.