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The amazing transformation of Hough Mill from derelict shell to visitor attraction.

For Hello Heritage 2020, North West Leicestershire District Council commissioned Pudding Bag Productions to make this short film about the restoration of Hough Mill.

Wendy Freer’s film The Recapping of Hough Mill, Swannington in 2009.

December 1998 just before the restoration began - Bill Pemberton
May 2017 the restoration has made a huge difference - Leteachia B Kenny
Frame work sails added September 2019

Swannington Heritage Trust bought Hough Mill on 23rd August 1994, then spent several years planning the restoration and fundraising.  The Heritage Lottery Fund provided an £80,000 grant in 1998 which enabled the Trust to restore the structure of the mill in 1999.  An £80,000 restoration grant from Grantscape enabled the cap to be removed in 2009 and put back in place with the fantail and windshaft.


Trust volunteers spent a year making the brakewheel in the Neaverson Centre workshop. In October 2012 they dismantled the brakewheel in the workshop, hauled the pieces weighing a total of 1.75 tonnes, into the cap and reassembled the brakewheel around the windshaft. Read more about Reinventing the Wheel

It took two days for the team to dismantle the brakewheel in the workshop and rebuild it in the mill cap. Read more about Installing the Brakewheel

The 10ft (3m) brakewheel dwarfs our volunteer
The iron teeth were cast at a foundry near Coventry
The wheel was so big it was nearly as wide as the workshop


During 2013-2014 the Mill Maintenance volunteers spent a year of Friday mornings making the wallower in the workshop. Although only half the size of the brakewheel, it was more complex and the wooden teeth had to be made out of hornbeam. It was installed in the cap in November 2014.

Tough work drilling into oak timbers
For the mill to operate the wallower would be raised to mesh with the brakewheel
The wallower teeth were made of hornbeam, a dense hardwood

The Sails Are Here

It was a tense week with a close eye kept on the windspeed which at one stage threatened to stop the proceedings.  Sails dangling from a crane in high winds is not a good idea.  Thanks to excellent work by millwrights, crane driver, cherry picker operator and everyone helped (including the tea makers!) the sails are on.

The week before the sails arrived a tree had to be felled to ensure that the two enormous vehicles could reach the mill without obstruction.   The stocks and sails looked impressive laid out on the ground.

On Tuesday 10th September the two stocks and four springs were fitted.

The first stock was fitted into the pole end, which is the external end of the windshaft.  Wedges hold it in position.

The second stock was added.   The cherry-picker lifted the millwrights 12 metres above ground so that they could  fit the springs to the stocks.

On Wednesday 11th September the four sails were added.

The first sail was attached to the stock.  The crane then turned the sail 180 degrees so that the second sail could be fitted.

On Thursday 12th and Friday 13th September the millwrights secured the sails.

Additional struts were added to the stocks to ensure that the sails were held securely.  Fitting the sails inevitably caused some damage to the paintwork on the stocks and sails, damaged areas were repainted.

These annotated photographs more fully explain the process for fitting the stocks and sails.

The stock fits through the pole end and is held in place by wedges
The spring and clamps secure the stocks in place
Metal brackets were used to clamp the sails to the stocks

Many thanks to Bill Pemberton, Peter Firth and Clive Jones for the wonderful photographs.  Don’t forget to take photographs when out walking in Coleorton, Swannington, Thringstone and Whitwick, then email us your photos for the community gallery.

A more detailed description will be included in the autumn edition of Now and Then the Trust members’ magazine.

Distant view drone photo of sails - Clive Jones
Side view - drone photo of sails - Clive Jones
Close up drone photo of sails 2019 - Clive Jones