Jack and Jill Mills
South Downs Volunteer Ranger John Crane fills us in on the work that’s been taking place on the Jack and Jill Mills in East Sussex…
Jack and Jill Mills are a long standing familiar landmark above Clayton village, on the crest of the South Downs north of Brighton.
Jill Mill is owned by the Mid Sussex District Council and is maintained and refurbished by the volunteers of the Jack and Jill Mills Society www.jillmill.org.uk, whilst Jack Mill is privately owned together with the accompanying modern house and outbuildings.
At present Jack has a temporary weather proof cap that was installed by the volunteers on behalf of the owner, with the eventual objective of reinstating the refurbished original. The ugly post World War Two house is being made more compatible by the construction of traditional flint and brick walls to screen it.
Regular commuters on the A273 or travellers on the South Downs Way will have been aware that Jill has had only two sweeps for over one and a half years. This was occasioned by the need for a complete refurbishment of all four sweeps which, except for regular maintenance, had not been carried out for 30 years.
When the first two sweeps were removed using a mobile crane, it was discovered that one of the stocks had considerable internal rot surrounding a bolt hole which necessitated a complete renewal. Pitch pine was the original timber used but following advice from several sources it was decided to use high quality Siberian Larch because of its minimal knot content.
We dismantled the rest of the equipment on the sweeps and removed or sanded down the accretions of the last three decades of lead painting. Special permission and precautions are now required for using this paint and application is also weather limited.
This work considerably delayed the reinstallation of the two refurbished sweeps till May this year, when it was also hoped to lower the remaining two for the same treatment. Unfortunately on the day time ran out and, for a short period, Jill returned to her full complement of sweeps.
The final two have now been lowered and are being refurbished by volunteers on Saturdays. Any practical help in carrying out the work, or manning the mill on the Sunday afternoon public openings, would be welcomed, so please get in touch with the Jack and Jill Mills Society if you’re interested.