29 July 2013

Cley (No More) Next the Sea

Cley Mill, a tower windmill, was built about 1819. It consists of five storeys, the sails originally powering two pairs of stones, increased to three pairs by 1876.

The mill was converted to residential use, as a holiday home, in 1921, when the machinery was removed and the sails and cap immobilised. The brake and crown wheels were cut in half and used as door arches, their morticed teeth still very much in evidence.

The sails were replaced in 1960, and a new fantail was fitted in 1987. The mill has been run as a bed and breakfast since 1983, the granary and outhouses providing additional accommodation.

When built, the mill was next to the village's quay, but the port silted up in the nineteenth century. The beach is a 15 minute walk away. Even so, the mill flooded to a depth of eight feet when north Norfolk was inundated by the great sea flood of 1953.

Amidst the marshes is an Allan-Williams Turret, a pre-fabricated steel defence installation of WWII. This housed a crew of two and a light machine gun, and could be rotated through 360°. The design was not favoured by the army, and only 199 were built, most upon airfields.

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