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When the mill was purchased in 1999, although it looked in reasonable order to the passer-by, it was in need of some restoration.
Internally, every time it rained the floors had to be mopped of water. The rotting window frames were leaking badly and the walls were going green particularly at ground floor where the plaster had ‘popped’. Access to the each floor was difficult and the stairs dangerous to descend.
In 1999 the initial objective was to bring the windmill up to a standard that was felt safe to open to the public. Hand and guard rails were fitted to all flights of stairs and stairwell openings. Signage was added at every level expressing “Caution” and visitors advised to descend the stairs backwards. The walls were cleaned up and painted.
Outside, the old vegetable garden which fronted the road was dug up. A fence bordering it was partially removed and 25 tons of hardcore delivered and laid down manually with two shovels and a wheelbarrow. A further 13 tons of pebble was distributed over the top to provide a surface for a car park. A new “Open” sign was erected together with additional signage to direct the visitor to entrances.
In January 2000, eight new Iroko teak window frames were ordered for all the window openings to the mill and installed in October. The first four of the Crittall metal windows which had been removed, stripped and repainted were reinstalled, the remaining openings polythene sheeted.
In 2001 the last of the stripped and repainted windows was put back into place together with one new supplied by the makers, still in existence.
In July 2002 a tower of scaffolding was erected at the front of the mill to gain access to the sails. Both the galvanised steel stocks and the sails were stripped of all their paint and repainted; each sweep was dealt with individually when turned 90 degrees through the scaffold tower which was adjusted as necessary.
In December of the same year the fantail and fantail stage was removed by crane.
In April 2003 a new fantail and stage was lifted and installed back into the cap by crane.
In May the whole mill tower was scaffolded and for the first time easy access was available to gauge the extent of the repairs required. It was discovered that the cap itself was unsupported, merely resting on its own weight.
Six new steel brackets were formed and installed to the timber braces to provide some correction. A new timber perimeter was constructed between all the braces to form a fixings ring for the petticoat boarding, and a complete new fantail gallery constructed.
The cap was repaired where it had been cut open for the new fantail wheel braces and then re-fibre glassed over completely. The new woodwork received 4 coats of linseed paint.
Lastly, the tar which had been previously applied to the brick tower was burned off and scraped down and then recoated in a synthetic bitumen compound.
The scaffold was removed in September but in the meantime a souvenir shop had been put into place where once the garage was. Stow Mill Trading had opened in June.
In November a new Iroko timber door frame was installed.
In July 2004 the internal render to the ground floor was removed and the walls left to dry out. Outside a trench was dug all round the mill to form a “French drain”. Pebble was put back against a breathable membrane which allows rain to drain away quickly beneath ground instead of sitting around and seeping back inside.
In September a new Iroko timber door was installed into the new frame.
In March 2005 the ground floor walls were re-rendered with a hydraulic lime and left to dry before painting in white.
Repairs and redecorations will be ongoing.