The £1.65m regeneration project at Heckington’s unique eight-sailed windmill was given the Royal seal of approval today (Friday).
HRH The Princess Royal flew in by helicopter for a tour of the completed work which has seen the decaying buildings surrounding the mill converted into toilets, a visitor centre, tearoom and educational bakehouse.
Over a dozen funders have enabled the team of 85 active volunteers make this project possible, including a £1.4m Heritage Lottery Fund grant.
The princess was given a tour of the visitor centre, the mill, bake house and neighbouring 8 Sail Brewery, guided by windmill trust chairman Charles Pinchbeck and mill manager Jim Bailey.
Mr Pinchbeck commented: “It has been absolutely wonderful, the atmosphere on site was fantastic. She was just really interested in it. To have the support of someone in her position is a fantastic tribute to the project.”
After asking numerous questions of the ranks of volunteers, she willingly clambered up the mill’s ladders to take in a view of the site and surrounding countryside, including the Boston Stump from the outside gallery which encircles the mill tower, before taking a few snaps of her own on her mobile phone.
After being shown around the renovated Millhouse which has become the tearoom, the princess gave a speech showing her enthusiasm for the “imaginative” project and its “sustainability” for the area and the local tourism industry while preserving a unique piece of agricultural heritage for the future. She then unveiled a brass plaque before receiving a hamper of locally sourced Lincolnshire produce presented by Duke of Edinburgh Award volunteer at the mill Marc Millward, from Heckington, who was asked to carry it for her to her awaiting car before she was whisked off to her next engagement.
Marc said: “We had a cake made on site in the bakehouse here with our flour, flour we have milled, beer that has been brewed on site and some fridge magnets sold in the shop.
“She asked for the recipe of one of the beers because she grows some of the plants we put in it.”
Mill manager Mr Bailey said: “She very interested in the workings of the windmill and particularly in the wind, which she has some knowledge of it. She was keen to talk to the other volunteers and find out how long they had been on the project.
“She wanted to take a photograph of the sails, but we had to stop the sails before we went out onto the balcony.
“This has been the end of a ten year project and for all of the volunteers involved throughout those years it is a very proud moment.”