Brixton Windmill Centre

Brixton Windmill Centre

A brief history of the Brixton Windmill Centre

November 2015: The Friends of Windmill Gardens start a high-profile campaign and petition urging Lambeth Council not to delay plans to build a promised education centre in Windmill Gardens.

May 2016: The council appoint Clearview Consulting and Squire & Partners to carry out a feasibility study and create building design options for an education centre.

Their work involves talking to local partners, businesses and residents, including the Windmill Cluster of schools, Blenheim Gardens RMO, and Holmewood Stay & Play, to ensure that the plan considers all viewpoints and feeds into building development.

July 2016: Public consultation and proposed plans and site of the new building are displayed and people encouraged to give their feedback, which is overwhelmingly positive.

October 2016: In the year of Brixton Windmill’s bicentenary, Lambeth Council approve the expenditure of £360,000 for the construction of an education centre in Windmill Gardens.

Under the plan, the Friends will be granted a lease to run and maintain the centre.

Squire & Partners, the architects who worked with the Friends, Lambeth Council and Clearview Consulting as part of the first stage design, continue with the overall design and build of the education centre, subject to planning consent. This is anticipated for the end of November / early December 2016.

March 2017: Lambeth Planning Committee approve the application for the education centre in Windmill Gardens.

Jean Kerrigan, Chair of the Friends of Windmill Gardens, says:

“The Friends of Windmill Gardens are delighted that planning permission has been granted to build an education centre in Windmill Gardens. This will allow us to provide improved facilities to visitors and most importantly to provide an education building for schoolchildren that visit the 200-year old Brixton Windmill.

“Having an education building also allows us to increase our activities and support the flour production at Brixton Windmill as well as provide a space for use by the local community.

“The Friends of Windmill Gardens, a local charity that is wholly run by volunteers, are committed to managing the building upon its completion. We thank Lambeth Council for funding this project and hope to work in partnership with them as we continue to organise the successful programme of tours at Brixton Windmill and popular community events in Windmill Gardens.

“We also thank architects, Squire and Partners, for their design, commitment and generous support for this project.”

November 2017: After some frustrating delays, the invitation to tender for the construction of the new education building is issued by Lambeth Council, who plan to appoint a construction firm in January 2018. Building work is due to start in late February/early March 2018.

The council is funding all the construction costs of the building, but the Friends have to raise £27,000 to furnish it. Our sustainability and fundraising group work on a three-year business plan and make several bids for grants to support the project.

March 2018: Lambeth Council appoint Logan Construction (SE) Ltd to build the new education centre in Windmill Gardens. Work is due to start next in April 2018 and the building is due to be complete in December, when the Friends of Windmill Gardens are to sign a lease and take on management of the centre.

Cllr Sonia Winifred, Cabinet Member for Equalities and Culture, says: “The Friends of Windmill Gardens have worked closely with the council to make this happen and I’m delighted to get the contractor appointed and push it forward. I can’t wait to see it open.”

Jean Kerrigan, chair, Friends of Windmill Gardens (FoWG), says: “We are so pleased that Lambeth have made the appointment. The Friends have campaigned over many years to get to this stage. Thanks to pro-bono work by architects Squire and Partners we will have a beautiful building in keeping with the historic Grade II* Brixton Windmill that will be of great benefit to our local community.

“During construction our volunteers will continue to open Brixton Windmill to visitors, regularly mill stoneground Brixton Windmill Flour, and organise community events in the park. FoWG will also be fundraising to fit out the building and to train our volunteers so that when the new education centre opens we are ready for the next phase in the 202-year history of Brixton’s much loved windmill.”

Brixton Windmill Education Centre Crowdfunder Appeal June 2018: The Friends launch a four-week crowdfunding campaign to raise £12,000 towards kitting out the new education centre. The money will be spent on furniture for education workshops, office equipment, kitchen equipment for baking workshops, shelving and storage for grain and flour, and crockery and cutlery for the visitors’ cafe.

There are lots of rewards for early donors, from flour, mugs, and T-shirts to a private baking and milling session for five people.

December 2018: Finally, after many delays, the diggers move in just before Christmas and start levelling the ground in readiness to install the foundations for the new education centre.

14 January 2019: After a Christmas hiatus, work starts on digging holes for the 1.5m x 1.5m x 2m concrete blocks that will form the foundations of the education centre.

Work is also being done to avoid undermining the playground wall, which is leaning badly, during construction.

23 January 2019: Six of the 16 concrete pads for the foundations are poured.

The building contractors are waiting for instructions from the architects and structural engineers on how to support the wall before digging the adjoining foundation pits.

6 February 2019: Before any more foundation pits can be dug, the wall between Windmill Gardens and Thames Water has to be supported, as it is leaning quite badly, especially the end by the children’s playground.

These temporary steel supports will prevent the wall from being undermined until a permanent support is put in place. The construction company assures us that they have tried to place the supports to cause minimal damage to the mural.

13 February 2019: The temporary supports for the wall are in place, allowing the final four foundation pits to be dug and poured.

Permanent wall supports will need to be installed before the building can be constructed, as there is very little room between the wall and the back of the building.

21 February 2019: All 16 foundation pits are now complete. The contractor, Logan SE Ltd, is waiting for instructions from the architect and structural engineer on permanent supports for the leaning wall.

There is also a water leak on the site, which has to be fixed by Thames Water. Once this has been fixed, Logan can dig the drains and trenches for utility supplies.

The next step is to get the carpenter to construct the frame for the concrete base of the building.

21 March 2019: Drainage for the education centre has now been installed, and the timber frame for the concrete base is being constructed.

Thames Water has still not fixed the water leak or responded to requests for action on the leaning wall. However, there are plans to install structural support in the part of the wall behind the education centre.

As part of the Considerate Constructors Scheme, Logan SE has also built a picket fence around the herb garden to offer more protection agains stray footballs!

28 March 2019: The water leak has been fixed, and the timber frame for the concrete base is complete. Work is now starting on laying the damp proof membrane. Insulation and steel bars and mesh will be laid on top of this before the concrete is poured.

Thames Water has still not responded about the leaning wall. The plan now is to install permanent steel supports behind the building to help prop it up from this side.

4 April 2019: The insulation and steel bars and mesh are being laid on top of the damp proof membrane in the base of the education centre.

11 April 2019: Exciting news – the concrete base of the education centre will be poured next week!

In the meantime, the metal support grids have to be secured with hundreds of cable ties.

15 April 2019: A momentous day as the concrete base for the education centre is poured in the April sunshine!

24 April 2019: The concrete base is now set (all 140 tonnes of it!), and additional timber frames have been constructed for the upstands that will support the walls of the building.

Permanent metal supports have been attached to the wall and the temporary structures removed.

15 May 2019: The timber frame for the education centre is being erected – it’s beginning to look like a building!

22 May 2019: The timber frame is complete. The wooden columns have been covered to protect them from damage when the scaffolding for the roof is erected.

30 May 2019: Scaffolding is being erected around the timber frame so that the roofers can start work.

11 June 2019: The brick gables are being built.

19 June 2019: Some of the birch ply and insulation has been installed on the roof.

27 June 2019: The layers of birch ply, insulation and felt have been laid on the roof of the Windmill Centre, and the battens are ready for the tiles to be attached.

3 July 2019: At last some good weather means that progress can be made on the roof.

11 July 2019: The roof is complete, apart from the skylights. When we visited this morning, a site meeting was in progress to discuss the siting of the utilities.

The timber frame was also being coated with fire retardant, and preparations were being made to install the walls.

16 July 2019: Good progress on constructing the back wall. The bifold doors for the front of the building have been ordered.

24 July 2019: The front walls are going up. Inside, we have electricity and light!

1 August 2019: The exterior walls are complete – the doors arrive next week. Inside, the partitions for the office and toilet at one end are up, while the areas for the kitchen, storage and toilet at the other end have been marked out.

7 August 2019: Part of the floor and wall insulation is in, and the rooms at either end of the centre are under construction.

13 August 2019: The underfloor heating system has been installed, and a cement and sand screed is being laid over the top.

28 August 2019: The Brixton Windmill Centre now has doors and skylights. And the internal walls around the kitchen are going up.

4 September 2019: The walls are being insulated, the floor has been redone and covered for protection, and work continues on the kitchen, storage and office areas.

13 September 2019: The foundations have been drilled for the decking in front of the education centre, while work continues on the interior (we have light fittings!).

11 October 2019: The decking has been laid in front of the centre, currently covered to protect it from the weather.

Supply lines are being laid across the park to bring gas, electricity and broadband to the centre.

16 October 2019: The gas and other supply lines have been laid to the building. The kitchen floor is being tiled, and basins have been installed in the toilets.

23 October 2019: The kitchen tiling is nearly complete, internal doors have been fitted (though the wrong colour), and the trenches for the supply lines have mostly been filled in.

30 October 2019: The kitchen tiling is complete, the hatch


shutter has been installed, and some of the white goods have arrived.

Ventilation grilles and wiring for outside lighting have been fitted.

5 November 2019: The floor is being painted. Some of the protection on the exterior decking has temporarily been removed, so we can get an idea of how the outside will look.

13 November 2019: Topsoil was spread on the outside, while toilets were installed inside.

27 November 2019: Preparations are being made to install the external sliding shutters.

3 December 2019: Fit out of the kitchen has started. We have a fridge-freezer and dishwasher, along with a couple of sinks and some work units.

28 January 2020: We have an oven in the kitchen and shutters on the outside of the building. The contractors are preparing to install the exterior cladding.

July 2020: Finally the building is ready. The Friends sign the lease and move in!

brixton windmill centre interior

Photo by Owen Llewellyn

brixton windmill centre interior