Raising the roof at Horsey Windpump

Cap being craned back onto Horsey Windpump
Published : 01 Jun 2017

It’s just over a year since our ambitious project began at Horsey Windpump and we've just reached a momentous moment, as the restored cap has just been lifted back in place. This is a key milestone in a conservation project to restore one of the Norfolk Broad’s most iconic buildings.

And we have lift off

To do the job, a 100-tonne capacity crane arrived at Horsey and under the careful supervision of the millwright, the newly constructed cap and brake wheel (weighing in at 15 tonnes together) were lifted in one go. Watch the timelapse of this delicate operation in action. 

Working on the cap

The cap was successfully removed back in March 2016 and since then a temporary lid has been in place. It quickly became apparent that the extent of the cap’s rot was far greater than first thought and it was almost a miracle that the whole structure came off in one piece. 

Horsey Windpump with her temporary lid during restoration
The top of a tower with a grey lid
Horsey Windpump with her temporary lid during restoration

Shipped back to the millwright’s workshop in Suffolk, the cap has carefully been stripped back to the frame, before methodically being rebuilt. Throughout the whole restoration process, existing pieces of wood in good condition have been re-used where possible and for sections needing to be replaced, identical wood or wood that will give the cap a longer lifespan have been chosen.  

The newly restored cap for Horsey Windpump
The newly completed white wooden cap at Horsey Windpump. Looking from the back you can see the frame for the fan tail.
The newly restored cap for Horsey Windpump

Tim our millwright

Tim Whiting is the millwright working on the project and he’s been using the same tools and techniques that were used to build Horsey Windpump over a hundred years ago. 

" In order for the sails to be installed and working later this summer, we need to make sure the cap is able to turn freely, so this is the point where a lot of the hard work comes together."
- Tim Whiting, Millwright

Work to the tower

As well as restoring the cap, the tower itself has also undergone repairs to ensure the top is perfectly level and round. This has taken a lot of hard work and patience from the bricklayer and millwright, as pin-point precision is needed. If it wasn’t correct then it can mean the newly restored cap won’t be able to turn. 

The brickwork repairs are now complete
A close up of the brickwork at the top of Horsey's tower
The brickwork repairs are now complete

We've made some discoveries along the way

Over the past year we’ve seen the cap go from a state of fragility to strength and we’ve made some interesting discoveries along the way. This includes some wooden components of the caps structure that pre-date the current windpump quite considerably, with the oldest piece thought to date back to the 17th Century. 

It would appear that the cap frame had been constructed with wood from possibly three older caps, from other mills. 

What next?

Now the cap has been lifted onto Horsey Windpump a period of bedding in will follow, where the millwright and his team will ensure that the cap is winding (turning) correctly before installing the sails later this summer. Watch this space.