Warning as icon deemed ‘at risk’

Marsh Mill in Thornton and (below) Shirley Matthews of the North West Mills Group.

Marsh Mill in Thornton and (below) Shirley Matthews of the North West Mills Group.

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AN iconic Fylde coast landmark faces an uncertain future, according to a national charity.

English Heritage has placed Marsh Mill windmill in Thornton on its official At Risk Register.

Shirley Matthews of the North West Mills Group.

Shirley Matthews of the North West Mills Group.

The register, which highlights historic buildings under threat from neglect, warns water is seeping into the mill and repairs are needed to the sails.

An entry on the register says ‘cracked render coating is allowing water ingress affecting internal timbers’ and adds ‘damp penetration is affecting interior wall surfaces.’

It also warns repairs are needed to the external walkway and sails.

The mill is one of only three on the Fylde coast which are open to the public – the others being Lytham and Little Marton mill in Blackpool.

Shirley Matthews, spokeswoman for the North West Mills Group, said they were concerned about the future of the landmark.

She said: “It is a mammoth job that needs undertaking but the issues really need addressing before it gets any worse.

“Marsh Mill has the most of its machinery intact out of all our mills.

“Although it is not working, when we take children round, it is the best of its kind when it comes to showing them how a mill would have worked.”

Howard Phillips, of Thornton Action Group, said he was alarmed to hear the mill was officially earmarked as ‘at risk’.

He said: “It is the icon for Thornton, and the landmark which identifies the town. Many organisations, including ours, have the mill as their symbol.

“It is the most important historic building we have in Thornton.

“The longer it is left, the worse it will get.”

Marsh Mill, which is a Grade II listed building, was built in 1794 by Ralph Slater for the local squire, Bold Fleetwood Hesketh.

It last worked in 1922, and in 1989, it underwent a major refit after Thornton’s Urban District Council stepped in.

In 2004 the mill was sold by Wyre Council to Melrose Developments, with the council leasing it back over 20 years.

Last year the council sought to surrender the lease, but the deal broke down.

As well as having more working machinery than any other mill in the North West, Marsh Mill also has rare cubit’s sails, made with shutters.

A spokeswoman for Wyre Council said: “A detailed survey of the building has been carried out and we are now assessing the work that needs to be undertaken and associated costs.”

Other Fylde landmarks on English Heritage’s At Risk Register include Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.

The register, which was launched in 2008, was created in order to highlight the condition of historic sites and encourage the community to become active in their restoration.

A Friends Group for Marsh Mill is in the process of being formed.

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