Sails restored to Lytham Windmill, six months after weather damage

The sails are have been restored to Lytham Windmill – six months after weather damage ruined the appearance of the iconic Fylde landmark.

By Tony Durkin
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 2:27 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th April 2022, 5:19 pm

One of the sails snapped in two in blustery weather on October 1 last year, and it was later found to be rotten inside.

A second sail was damaged in further bad weather and soon afterwards, the windmill was down to a single sail, which was removed by contractors.

A team of skilled craftsmen in Wesham, led by veteran millwright Joe Gillett, spent months turning a consignment of specially-sourced Douglas Fir wood into a new set of four sails and they were put in place on Thursday.

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The sails are returned to Lytham Windmill following storm damage

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Last of sails removed from Lytham Windmill following storm damage

The construction of the new sails has been the biggest job yet on the iconic windmill for Joe and his colleagues, who have worked on replacing sails on the Lytham icon on a number of occasions before but never a new full set.

Joe was at the site at Lytham Green as his team placed the new sales on the mill’s windshaft and by mid-morning after an early start, two of the sails were in place, with a third following by lunchtime, then the fourth to restore the landmark to its full appearance.

"The conditions are ideal and we are delighted with progress,” said Joe. “We were just grateful there was little or no wind and it’s great to see sails back on the windmill.

The operation attracted plenty of attention

“It’s a job we are proud to do. Lytham Windmill is a great landmark and has to face all weathers, so it makes sense to replace all four.”

The wood used hails from the Pacific coast of the USA and Joe says that around a ton of it is needed for each sail. The primary arms for the sails measure around 30 ft.

The sails are tapered and once built, the wood needs to be treated, then left to settle and acclimatise before they can be mounted.

Joe says the sail will hopefully last 10 to 12 years, with three coats of protective solution applied to guard against the elements.

Joe Gillett (right) and the team involved in the fitting of the new sails

The iconic windmill, now looked after by Fylde Council and a symbol of the borough, dates back to 1805.

The windmill is back to looking its very best after five months without sails