Completed in 2019, the Granary building now homes a small museum of rural history, including a collection of old photos of the Windmill, historic artefacts (many from Lackham College of Agriculture Museum) related to sowing, growing and harvesting grain, a wonderful old glass-fronted display cabinet with around 50 samples of grain and ancient grass varieties (also from Lackham). The building also provide more space from which to run our Education Programme when local schools visit the Windmill.
This is the story of the project to move The Granary from Lackham to Wilton Windmill.
Without the tireless efforts of James Arnold-Baker - a local Wilton resident and long-serving volunteer at the windmill - this Granary would never have been saved and moved from Lackham College Museum to Wilton Windmill. It was James' original idea and he pushed the project through, overcoming many obstacles. Although the work had started, James never saw the finished result. Peter Lemon, Chris Cannon, James Marlow, Kevin Challen and Charles Baxter also made valuable contributions.
in 2016, Lackham College Museum donated some old tools and farming equipment to the Windmill. Sadly, 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 outside. The museum also had two granary buildings one of which had originally been acquired sometime in the 1960s. The building had no current use and the thatch and structure were deteriorating. We asked if we could have it and move it to the Windmill site. Originally built somewhere on the Longleat Estate in around 1850 it is a timber-framed, thatched structure with brick infill standing on 9 staddle stones.
After many delays and setbacks, we obtained planning permission, grants and permission from Wiltshire Council to move it to the Windmill site. 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 have an extraordinary record of past 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 for that in the old Greenham Common aircraft hangers.
The project leader from McCurdys was Dominic Barrington-Groves. He originally did some of his apprenticeship with IJP Owlsworth, our firm of millwrights. While there he did some work on Wilton Windmill with Paul Sellwood.
Dismantling work was just about to start when bats were found in the building. Several weeks later, after a bat survey, we at last obtained permission from English Nature to go ahead. Work then started at Lackham to dismantle the building.
After disassembling and transporting, the reassembly work soon got underway.
Most of the original wooden structure was sound although some new timbers were spliced in where rot was found.
The roof timbers had already been replaced with new wood in the 1960’s.