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Denver Windmill (Denver, Norfolk)

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Address: Sluice Road / Denver / Norfolk PE38 0EG

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      08.01.2013 10:15
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      Part of our heritage - but not much left

      When visiting a friend in Norfolk, he suggested we drove to Denver Windmill, a local fully operational windmill in the area, and as it was on my route home, it would break up my journey. However we were in for a surprise when we arrived, as the windmill was minus its sails! Apparently there was a stress fracture in the metal joint holding the sails together which gave way at the end of 2011 and one of the sails fell off. Thankfully no one was injured and the rest of the sails were taken down for safety reasons. However the mill still works using an engine to mill the flour.

      There is a small car park here, and we managed to get parked easily. As you go in there is a popular tea room but we turned right and headed towards the shop where you can buy tickets. I think we paid £2.50 each and were presented with a lanyard to wear as we enter the windmill. Obviously there are steps to climb up the windmill and these are quite steep, more ladder-like, and so not suitable for those with mobility problems or very young children. It is a good idea to come down backwards I think, whilst minding your head. There are some signs in the mill and also we met the miller working it and he stopped for a chat and told us all about the windmill. We were 'stuck' there for about thirty minutes while he told us a LOT of information about flour which I promptly forgot.

      After this we went back into the shop and looked at the gifts. Many of the branded gifts are bought in (fudge with Denver Mills written on the packet and such like) but I believe you can buy bread to take home that was made here. They also sell other local products such as soaps and kitchen/baking type items as well as children's gifts. I am not sure about everyone here, but a lot of people seem to be volunteers which is lovely, and all were friendly.

      Most people seem to come for the tea room and they were doing big business. There are many tables inside and outside by the windmill, and in various nooks and crannies. We went up to the counter to place our order and as we were just having drinks and nibbles took them away with us, but they do bring prepared/cooked items out to you. Coffee was priced at a reasonable £1.60, with my hot chocolate being £1.80. My homemade cheese scone with two pats of butter was £1.50, and my friend's cake was similarly priced, so we were very pleased with our bargain snacks. I have to add that my scone was a little bit burnt on the bottom though, so I didn't quite finish it, but it was a good size and had that authentic homemade wonkiness about it. In addition they do all day breakfasts (the bacon baps seemed popular), as well as filled sandwiches and jacket potatoes, so there is plenty of choice weather you want something to nibble whilst having a coffee or something slightly more substantial.

      The sad thing about this windmill (other than the fact it has no sails) is that the trust that runs it does not want to renew its lease (due end May 2013) which means the people who run it will have to leave and a potentially working windmill will be lost and converted into something that makes money. Whilst I have to admit to finding the mill a bit boring, it is still part of our heritage and this would be a shame. There is a petition to sign in the shop (and online). Therefore if you do wish to visit here I would suggest doing it soon.

      Open daily 9am-5pm (10am in winter). Small charge to visit the mill, or else just visit the tea rooms. Denver is not far off the A11 near Downham Market.

      Petition link: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/denver-mills.html

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