Bembridge Windmill sails appeal

Standing high above rolling fields is the last remaining windmill on the Isle of Wight. Whilst others have crumbled away, Bembridge Windmill has remained a traditional sight in the landscape. It was even painted by JMW Turner. However, time and weather mean that parts of the sails, known as sweeps, need to be replaced. This is to protect our visitors and to ensure they are not put at risk, as well as to restore the windmill.

Bembridge Windmill, Isle of Wight
Side view of Bembridge Windmill, Isle of Wight

What are the sweeps?

The sweeps are a wooden lattice that attach to large beams known as stocks. In a complete sail, the sailcloth would have been stretched over the sweeps so that they could catch the wind and turn the machinery, which would grind the grains. As the sweeps are made from wood, over a number of years they can start to rot and so we have to replace them every so often. We turn the sails manually to try and prevent weathering on one particular side.

" Bembridge Windmill holds a special place in my heart as it’s what brought me to the Isle of Wight nine years ago. It’s also the most important building that we care for on the Island, as it’s Grade I listed and the only windmill remaining here. It’s vital that we replace the sweeps to bring the windmill back to its majestic glory."
- Kathryn
A crane removing the sweeps from Bembridge Windmill

Work begins

At the beginning of December 2018, we removed the sweeps from the Grade I listed building. Although the windmill is 300 years old, the sweeps have been replaced before, most recently in 1990. The first stage of the process was to place the sails in ‘distress’ mode (vertical rather than diagonal cross), before the millwright, who ensured the historic machinery was protected, loosened the bolts and the team removed the sweeps.

" Bembridge Windmill is an authentic example of a bygone era, and as the only surviving Windmill on the Isle of Wight, it needs its sails to continue sharing its history. A Windmill without sails isn’t a Windmill!"
- Chris
The windmill at Bembridge without its sails

Helping to restore an Island icon

For now the windmill sails stand bare, which means the view across the fields of a much photographed and painted landscape will be a little different for a while. Your help will mean we can raise the £50,000 needed to restore the sails and this iconic Island image.

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Why give to the National Trust

As a charity, we rely on the generosity of supporters to look after the historic buildings in our care. Not only do our supporters help to conserve beautiful homes and stunning gardens. They also ensure that future generations have places where they can be inspired by stories of the past, enjoy peace and time to reflect, and make memories to treasure. Your donation will go towards this project and other vital conservation work on our buildings at this special place. With your support, we can continue to protect the irreplaceable. For everyone, for ever.

Donate now to the Bembridge Windmill sails appeal