Icy winter gusts leave Preston’s last surviving windmill in need of ‘urgent’ repairs

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Preston's only surviving windmill is in "urgent need" of repair following serious damage caused by winter weather.

An application to remove crumbling render from the outside walls of the 260-year-old building off Moor Lane has been submitted to the city council.

The six-storey mill, which used to be one of 10 serving farmers around Preston, has been standing empty and forlorn for around 15 years as various schemes to redevelop it have come and gone.

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Now applicant Simon Pickles has asked the council's planning chiefs for listed building consent to remove the cement-based render from the Grade II structure to prevent it falling off onto property and people below.

The old windmill on Cragg's Row off Moor Lane, Preston.The old windmill on Cragg's Row off Moor Lane, Preston.
The old windmill on Cragg's Row off Moor Lane, Preston.

"The external cement render has been severely eroded by the action of the weather and frost damage," says a report to the council. "This has resulted in numerous cracks and spalling of the render finishes.

"The proposal is to remove the render before degradation occurs to this heritage building. The Grade II listed building is in urgent need of this repair/removal of the render."

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The windmill, in Cragg’s Row, was built in 1760 and the sails are believed to have been removed around 1880. Since then it has been used for numerous purposes including as a prison overflow building and a piano workshop and store. It was also said to have been a wartime cinema, although one Post reader who remembered it at the time said the picture house was actually next door.

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Experts say the windmill needs 'urgent' repairs.Experts say the windmill needs 'urgent' repairs.
Experts say the windmill needs 'urgent' repairs.

The structure is a solid masonry shell with timber roof and floors. It is divided into six separate floors and was last used around 2008. There have been several schemes to make use of the iconic building - the last as a community hub and foodbank - but each time plans have been shelved and the mill has been put back up for sale. It has planning permission for leisure, residential or commercial use and was last on the market in 2021 with a £150,000 asking price.

It has survived several demolition threats and is believed the exterior render coating was applied around six years ago after the then owner declared the brickwork "badly corroded." Since then lumps of cracked render have fallen off the building, resulting in netting being erected around it to prevent injuries of damage.

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