Guernsey Press

Scaffolding starts to come down from Vale Mill

SCAFFOLDING around the Vale Mill started to come down yesterday after a year of work to make the landmark building habitable.

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Shaun Gibbs of Access Scaffolding.. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 33241751)

Once a flour mill, then a Nazi observation tower, the mill sat empty, damp and barely maintained for decades, but is now well on its way to becoming a home.

Some of the renovation works have taken longer than expected, but scaffolders are now on site, pulling down the structure which has concealed the mill, and revealing superb re-pointing which has given the building a striking new exterior impression. Renovation inside has been even more extensive.

‘This will be the first time that the building has been dry on the inside since the Occupation,’ said Wheeler Developments director James Ridout.

‘There is still some re-pointing to do around the base, once the scaffolding has gone, and then we’ll consider what we’re going to do, including whether we get straight on with the tunnel to link the mill with the quarry. Staircases will wrap around the inside and follow the curve the whole way up, so they’re currently being drawn up.’

It is expected to take about four weeks to remove scaffolding completely from the 21m building.

Timber windows have been fitted in the lower, original section, and frameless windows have gone into the upper section which was added during the Occupation.

At the start of the Occupation, the tower was used as a base for the sea rescue service to locate and save downed airmen from emergency landings, but by 1942 it had become an observation tower providing firing instructions to the inland gun batteries of Hitler’s Atlantic wall.

The States later took on the mill and carried out basic maintenance until it was sold at auction for £57,000 in 2008 to the late Roger Perrot and Richard Ridout, James’ father.

A bunker on the site, known to the developers before work commenced, caused them surprise when it was discovered to have some 600 tonnes of concrete reinforcing the walls.

The next challenge will be to tackle the concrete barriers, which are 6ft thick, and connect the bunker to the main development.

The scaffolding around Vale Mill is being taken down and is expected to take around four weeks. James Ridout is top right.. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 33241741)