In 2016, Wilton Windmill was given old tools and farming equipment from Lackham College Museum. The museum was closing down as it was housed in damp and unsafe buildings with no possibility of financial assistance and so they were looking for homes for their whole collection.
There are now items from Lackham on display inside the Windmill, as well as the plough and pony gear situated outside. The museum also had two granary buildings, one of which had originally been acquired sometime in the 1960's. The Granary had no current use and the thatch and structure were deteriorating and so a request was made to move it to the Windmill site. Originally built somewhere on the Longleat Estate in around 1850, The Granary is a timber-framed, thatched structure with brick infill standing on 9 staddle stones.
After many delays and setbacks, planning permission, grants and permission from Wiltshire Council to move The Granary to the Windmill site was achieved. The firm of McCurdy and Co from Stanford Dingley near Reading were then given the contract to dismantle, re-build and re-thatch it. The firm has an extraordinary record of successful projects specialising in the restoration or relocation of old timber framed buildings.
Amongst many other projects, McCurdy and Co moved a magnificent timber framed market hall building from Horsham and rebuilt it at the Weald and Downland Museum in Sussex. They also built the Globe Theatre in London, with much of the work being done in the old Greenham Common aircraft hangers.
The project leader from the firm was Dominic Barrington-Groves. He originally did some of his apprenticeship with IJP Owlsworth, our firm of millwrights, and did some work on Wilton Windmill with Paul Sellwood.
With everything in place, dismantling work at Lackham was just about to start in August 2018 when bats were found in the building. Several weeks later, following a bat survey, we obtained permission from English Nature to go ahead.
Most of the original wooden structure was sound although some new timbers have been spliced in where rot was found.
The roof timbers had already been replaced with new wood in the 1960’s.
The Granary is used for storing grain - its original purpose - but also houses display boards, a collection of old photos of the Windmill and a display of historical artefacts (many from Lackham) related to sowing, growing and harvesting grain.
In addition, a wonderful, old, glass-fronted display cabinet, also from Lackham, contains around 50 samples of grain and ancient grass varieties.
The space is also used to run our Education Programme when local schools visit the Windmill.
Without the tireless efforts of James Arnold-Baker, The Granary would not have been saved and moved from Lackham College Museum to Wilton Windmill. It was James's original idea and he pushed the project through, overcoming many obstacles. Before James died in 2018, dismantling work had started but sadly James never saw the finished result.
Peter Lemon, Christopher Cannon, James Marlow, Kevin Challen and Charles Baxter also made valuable contributions.
The Granary Building Project was funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
The project required highly skilled, specialist people to dismantle, transport and redbuild The Granary. Without this funding, the project could not have taken place.