Bembridge Shed helps the National Trust get new sweeps

On the Isle of Wight, the only traditional windmill left standing is in Bembridge. It has been managed for many years by the National Trust (NT).

Early in 2019 one of our members was speaking to the NT representative at the windmill and found out that the sweeps (sails to you and me) needed replacing after 30 years of exposure to the salt-laden sea, air and wind. The old sweeps were to be burnt and £50,000 was needed to fund the new sweeps.

“let us salvage some of the wood which was still usable and we’ll make a few things to sell”

When the Bembridge Men’s Shed was told about this we came up with an idea – let us salvage some of the wood which was still usable and we’ll make a few things to sell. The financial proposition was that half the gross proceeds of the sales would go to the NT and the remainder (minus costs) to the Shed. The NT agreed so off we went chopping up the main spars, unbolting the trellis sections and unscrewing the feather boards which are attached to the main spars. The wood is pitch pine and over the years some parts of this had rotted away completely. Many of the bolts holding the trellis together were in perfect condition while others were corroded completely.

“we had managed to raise over £1,200 for the National Trust!”

The Shed made a range of items from key rings (nice project for lots of members to get involved in a production line output) through to one-off specific items like clocks (which also used the intact bolts from the trellis). We have sold the items at local fairs on the Island and via a display in Bembridge Library.

Up to March 2020, we had managed to raise over £1,200 for the NT. During the lockdown, we have been unable to meet. However, one of our members (Nick) has kept himself busy producing more one-off items.

Two of these will be donated to the NT and Bembridge Heritage and the remainder will, we hope, be auctioned off when things return to normal.

So, what could have been firewood has instead become a worthwhile Shed project, has included other charity groups in the village, and kept at least one member of the Shed sane during lockdown! – Ian Graham ianmg.iow@gmail.com



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