Horsey Windpump sails into a new phase
It's nearly four years since Horsey Windpump's sails were taken off starting the journey towards restoration. After three days of hard work in very cold conditions this Norfolk Broads icon was back looking magnificent in the landscape with new stocks and sails.
Originally the sails had been planned to be fitted in late 2017 but due to bad weather and very wet conditions at Horsey the lift was delayed. The plan was to use a large crane but again due to the ground conditions this was deemed to be unsuitable and was likely it would've sunk into the ground; certainly not ideal! So a new plan was needed and Millwright Tim Whiting came up with the idea of using a lorry with a HIAB for lifting instead. This has never been done before but was the only way we could get Horsey Windpump's sails fitted without having to wait a few months for the area to dry out. Would it work? The lift and sail installation was planned to take place over three days with the sail frame lift on the last day.
Wednesday 21 February 2018
The first day started overcast but very still; ideal conditions for lifting very long wooden stocks on the end of strops! With anticipation the first stock had two strops placed around it and a rope tied through each end and was lifted with the hope of offering it up to the canister. The lorry and HIAB method worked and the stock was threaded through the canister on the first attempt! A combination of Alex Halton's expert HIAB control and Tim's great new method had meant the lift had got off to a great start. Next the first clamp was lifted on to the top of the stock and temporarily secured using more strops. This involved Tim leaning out of a small hatch above the canister; certainly not a job for someone with a fear of heights!
Using the ropes attached to the end of the stocks they were turned 180 degrees so that the second clamp could be placed on the other side of the stock. It was temporarily secured again with straps.
Day one had gone so much better than hoped which made the team feel positive about getting the job done by the end of the week.
Thursday 22 February
Thursday saw bright blue cloudless skies and again totally still perfect conditions. It certainly felt a lot colder than the day before but with the success of the previous day in everyone's minds the team started feeling positive about the day's work ahead.
The first job of the day was the bolt together the temporarily secured clamps and stock. Using the ropes the stock and its pair of clamps were turned 90 degrees so that rather than sitting horizontal it was now sitting vertical. Using a cherry picker the clamps and stock were all bolted together using enormously long bolts and nuts. This didn't quite go as planned as nuts wouldn't wind onto the bolts and just seized onto the end of the thread. This resulted in them having to be ground off and another set used.
Second job was to remove all of the temporary strops around the already installed stock and clamps. It was thought this wouldn't take too long. Three frustrating hours later the strops were removed and the team were finally ready to lift the second stock. After an initial failed lift which resulted in the lorry being moved as it was too close to the windpump (this baffled the team as the first stock was lifted no problem and the same length - bizarre!), the second stock was successfully lifted into place
The series of delays had caused the lift to fall behind schedule and at the end of day two the windpump had two stocks installed but was missing the second pair of clamps which meant that installing all four sail frames on the final day as well seemed a tall order.
Friday 23 February
Day three saw the return of grey skies and wind; not idea conditions for lifting sail frames! The millwright team started extra early at 6.30am and by 8am had lifted and bolted both clamps which brought the lift schedule back on track and gave them a chance of completing that day.
Attaching the sail frames involved rotating the stocks until one end was pointing vertically straight to the ground. Each frame was then lifted and offered up to the stock before being bolted secure.
Metal clamps then needed to be bolted around the end of the stock and the sail frame to ensure it was as secure as possible. This involved millwright Tim being harnessed up and climbing onto the frame itself with a rope to do up the nuts; again, not a job for someone with a fear of heights!
Just before 6pm the fourth and final sail frame was fitted into place. By now it was getting dark and the final bolting was done under floodlight.
Millwright Tim Whiting and his team had completed the installation of Horsey Windpump's sails successfully and on schedule. This iconic Norfolk Broads landmark was once again sporting sails and looking magnificent.
So what's next?
Now the work begins to install the shutters and striking gear that will enable to sails to once again turn for the first time in 75 years. Internal works are also needed and this will be carried out in the coming months.
The Trust would be pleased to hear from enthusiastic individuals who would like to share the history of the Windpump and the story of her restoration. Or would you like to be a part of the maintenance team and keep the sails turning? Excellent people skills are essential, as is a commitment to the values of the National Trust.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer at Horsey Windpump then please contact Sarah on 07585 980745 or email email@example.com