The windmill is Grade II listed and was built to pump water from the nearby ponds 500m uphill to the Haigh Brewery.
The Haigh windmill, constructed in brick, with a timber roof, underwent a program of restoration in the late 1970s and as a result a new roof was constructed of glass fibre. The existing sails have suffered repeatedly from storm damage, with lost or broken timbers and the brickwork is showing extensive areas of decay, with failed pointing and spalled brick facing. Now with the help of a £50,000 grant from Heritage Lottery Fund’s Your Heritage programme the windmill has been repaired and restored so that it can be maintained for future generations. Further funding has been put toward the project from Wigan Council, Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) Mills Section.
The project involved considerable repair work to the windmills brickwork which had become damaged by recent severe winters causing the brickwork to ‘spall’. New sails were constructed by a specialist Mill Wright and the fibreglass cap that was placed on the windmill in the 1970’s was modified and repaired so that it was more in keeping with the original design.
The project has had a lot of input from the 3 local primary schools St David’s C.E. Primary, Our Lady’s R.C. Primary and Aspull Church Primary who have learned about the history and heritage of the windmill and the Haigh area from the Council’s Environmental Education team. Pupils were given a lesson about the history of windmills and it was explained how they are an important part of our national heritage. Pupils visited Southport Eco-Centre to learn about modern windmills (wind turbines) where they learned about how wind power is used to create electricity. Pupils learned about the bread making process and how windmills were used in food production and they also helped to design a mosaic with the theme of local landmarks (including the windmill) which has now also been completed in the roadside verge outside St David’s school.
A Haigh Windmill Restoration Walk has been created to celebrate the completion of the project and a draft version of the leaflet (.pdf, 1498Kb) and Haigh Windmill Restoration Walk map (.pdf, 1484Kb) are available for download. The walk takes in Haigh Windmill and many of the other points of historical interest located around the Haigh Estate.
An interpretation board has also been placed at the entrance to the Windmill Field explaining about the heritage and importance of the windmill.
The project has also highlighted the importance of Wigan’s Greenheart in promoting and developing access to Wigan’s countryside and open spaces. For more information visit the Greenheart website (external link) . Photos of the windmill can be viewed on Greenhearts Flickr page (external link) .
Traditional Construction Methods
Natural lime mortars where used in construction until the end of the 19th century when cements were introduced. The windmill itself was originally constructed using lime mortars. In recent years the benefits of traditional lime mortar have been realised over modern materials and for this reason the windmill’s brickwork was repointed using a traditional lime mortar.
There are 5 main benefits of the use of lime mortar over modern materials:
- Breathable. Lime mortars are permeable to water vapour. This means that the mortar absorbs and evaporates moisture from the surrounding brick work. Previous repair works to the windmill had used a cement based mortar for repointing and this had lead to a serious deterioration of the brickwork over recent years known as ‘spalling’. This was caused by moisture penetrating the brick work, freezing and expanding, making the surface of the bricks ‘pop’ or flake off.
- Flexible. Lime mortars are extremely flexible, this means they can allow for movement and thermal expansion of the brickwork.
- Sympathetic. Lime mortars are softer than modern cements and overtime will not erode surrounding brickwork as cement mortars do. This also means that brickwork is easier to remove and replace if needed.
- Environmental. The lime manufacturing process produces less carbon dioxide than the processing of ordinary cement, therefore making it more environmental friendly. Lime mortars also re-absorb carbon dioxide reducing the carbon footprint even further.
- Aesthetic. Lime mortars have an attractive traditional appearance, and are paler in colour than cement based mortars. Natural limes also tend to reveal the colour and characteristics of the aggregate with which they're mixed.
Replacement bricks were hand made by a specialist brick maker to match as closely as possible the size, composition and look of the original brick work in the windmill. Wherever possible existing bricks were retained. A set of photos showing the brick works taking place from start to finish can be viewed on Flickr (external link) .