Mill could be working again

Lytham's famous windmill and historic RNLI Lifeboat house.

Lytham's famous windmill and historic RNLI Lifeboat house.

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PLANS have been unveiled to bring a Fylde landmark dramatically back to life.

The sails and millstones of Lytham’s famous windmill could be turning again by 2014 in a £500,000 plan to upgrade the attraction into a working museum.

The windmill last worked in 1919 when a fire forced the miller out of business.

Under the ambitious plans the windmill and the former RNLI boathouse will both be refurbished and modernised in a Lytham Heritage Group project that aims to more than double visitor numbers to approximately 60,000 per year.

The windmill is owned by Fylde Council and run by Lytham Heritage Group volunteers who aim to bid for Heritage Lottery Fund cash for the windmill and boathouse.

Coun David Eaves, Fylde Council leader, said: “The windmill and boathouse are known across Lancashire and the nation. This is a superb proposal by the Lytham Heritage Group that will massively boost visitor numbers to the area.

“We are very excited with the concept. Everyone knows the windmill, but relatively few people visit it. Having it working again will generate tens of thousands of visitors who we hope will then go on to visit the town centre and Lytham Hall.”

It is planned the RNLI boathouse will be turned into a museum dedicated to the Mexico disaster in which 27 crewmen died.

It was home to the famous Lytham lifeboat Charles Biggs that launched to rescue the 12-man crew of the German-registered barque, Mexico, in 1886.

The lifeboatmen died when the St Annes and Southport lifeboats capsized in very heavy seas and is the worst tragedy in the history of the RNLI since its formation in 1824.

Council officers are already looking at the plans and the council’s cabinet will discuss the proposal tomorrow.

At full speed, the windmill sails will turn every four seconds.

John Hayfield, Lytham Heritage Group spokesman, said: “There are a lot of static windmills, but very few working ones and we expect to get visitors from across the country.

“The knock-on effect for the wider area will be huge.

“We hope the windmill and lifeboat house will be the start of a series of heritage trails.

“Tourist information staff will be able to direct people to Lytham Hall and beyond.”

It is expected a Heritage Lottery Fund application will be lodged in November.

Volunteers expect they will have to raise further funds themselves. If the bid is successful work will start at the end of the 2013 summer season with completion expected in mid-2014.