Guernsey Press

Developer given a sporting chance to get mill watertight for winter

VALE MILL should be watertight by winter – thanks to the Island Games.

Wheeler Developments director James Ridout at the Vale Mill. (32560561)

James Ridout, director at Wheeler Developments, which is carrying out an ambitious redevelopment of the landmark building, said the suspension of work on coastal defences during the Games in July left the island’s stonemasons free to take on other work.

‘We suddenly had eight extra people able to work on the tower all week, raking out and re-pointing all the joints. Without that, I don’t think we would have finished this year,’ he said.

‘Our mission was to get it wind and watertight. We have spent around 100 weeks getting the job done.’

The 72ft tower has been wrapped in scaffolding since June to allow the work to take place.

Wheeler Developments hopes eventually to convert the mill into a luxury home, but at present is concentrating on making the building weatherproof to prevent further deterioration of the internal structure due to damp and rot.

The building, which was originally a flour mill, was substantially altered during the Occupation when it was converted into an observation station for inland artillery batteries, with three floors added, although one of them was removed by the States in the years after the war when it became damaged.

The German forces clad the new concrete floors in stonework in the hope of fooling the Allies into believing that it was still a working mill.

All this stonework has now been painstakingly repaired for the first time since it was put up over 80 years ago.

The developers have been required to submit unexpected planning applications on the listing building as they have discovered more about the unique changes the Germans made.

They have recently applied to waterproof the top level with fibre glass and clad some of the exposed concrete in leadwork.

‘Every time we look at the plans we have to come up with new solutions,’ said Mr Ridout,

‘The States team have been really helpful throughout and we are now at the point where we can start ordering windows.’