Mutton’s Mill restoration project scoops two design and craftsmanship awards

A partnership project between the Broads Authority and City College Norwich to restore heritage structures and train young people in traditional building techniques has received two awards at the Norwich and Norfolk Design and Craftmanship Awards.

Aerial view of Muttons mill during restoration

The awards, ran in partnership with RIBA Norfolk, the Norwich Society and Norwich University of the Arts, are a celebration of projects throughout Norfolk that positively affect the built environment and provide benefits to the people who live, work and visit here.

The team behind the restoration of Mutton's Mill (part of the Water, Mills and Marshes: Broads Landscape Partnership) were delighted to receive two awards in the category of Conservation - for excellence in sensitive restoration and repair to an historic building, and in the category of Sustainability - for demonstrating excellence in sustainability.

Receiving the awards at a ceremony held at the Assembly House, on 16 November in Norwich, were Broads Authority Water, Mills and Marshes Programme Manager, Andrew Farrell, and Heritage Carpenter Tom Allen.

Today, the Broads wind pumps are the largest concentration of mills in the country with over 60 still standing, second only to the Netherlands in the world. However, a national shortage of millwrights (experts in the restoration of historic mills) and the gradual dilapidation of the structures themselves has meant that the windpumps and the valuable skills needed to keep them alive are slowly disappearing.

Mutton’s Mill was just one of the heritage buildings selected to be restored through the Water, Mills and Marshes scheme, benefitting from collaborative work between historic building experts from the Broads Authority, students and talented apprentices including Tom.

During the last two years the project has welcomed over 50 students to the mill so that disappearing heritage skills are being learnt by a new generation. Students at City College Norwich learned how to work using lime mortar, linseed oil and specialist carpentry and brickwork techniques that are over a hundred years old.

tom working on muttons mill

Andrew Farrell, Programme Manager commented:

“With the Water, Mills and Marshes programme coming to an end next year, we are delighted to see the hard work of young people and the team acknowledged with yet another award.”

“The focus of the project has always been on training the next generation of craftspeople, instilling new skills, and inspiring them to work in the Broads.

The legacy of this 5-year project is that more students are now considering heritage building and craft roles for their future careers.”

The restoration of Mutton's Mill also represented a key turning point for the Heritage Carpenter Tom Allen, who has qualified for his Level 3 apprenticeship award and was also recognised as Construction Apprentice of the Year at City College.

Mutton’s Mill is unique in the Broads as the only working windmill with an internal scoop wheel. The mill has been restored to a near-original and working condition, using traditional materials and techniques, wherever possible.

The mill retains a lot of the original 19th century fabric, and new timbers have been repaired and scarfed in as much as possible. One example of an innovation is the use of a new coal-tar substitute coating for the mill, which is more environmentally friendly and necessary in a protected wetland.

Muttons mill restored with four sails.jpg

Sustainability was also a key consideration during the works, and the restoration of the mill included bat and owl boxes, and adapted bricks for bats to hibernate inside the mill. The newly restored mill is one of the main focus points on the new Halvergate Mills trail, which passes Mutton’s Mill, Berney Arms Mill, High’s Mill and Howard’s Mill and has been developed to encourage more people out into Halvergate Marshes throughout the year.

Find out more about the trail here:

Past successes of the project include a number of prestigious awards. The work of then-apprentices (Tom Allen and Brandon Jarvis) to restore a 200-year-old drainage mill, ‘6 Mile House’ was acknowledged at the Norfolk Constructing Excellence Awards in the Preservation and Rejuvenation category (May 2021). They subsequently won the Regional award in the category of Conservation and Regeneration (August 2021).

The project was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, in partnership with the Broads Authority and City College, with architects EAGM. The project team would like to thank Tom Allen and Alex Cox for their hard work at Mutton’s Mill.

Watch the Mutton’s Mill restoration video on YouTube:

Monday 27 November 2023