The spacious and attractive setting of the new Brixton Windmill Centre was the venue for two training days for volunteer guides and stewards, held recently in preparation for our resumed open days this autumn. The courses were well-attended, with a total of 17 trainees present over the two sessions.
It was interesting to learn of the variety of ways in which participants had been drawn to volunteering at Brixton Windmill. One volunteer used to bring her now grown-up children to play near the mill as youngsters, and has seen it through all its recent developments. Another was intrigued by the ‘Windmill’ sign on the main road as she made her way to work, and several more had identified a challenging new volunteering opportunity during the Covid lockdown.
Led by Nick Weedon, FoWG vice-chair, the course began with an illustrated account of the history of wind-driven mills – from the Middle East in ancient times to the 19th century – and continued with the history of our own mill, built in rural Brixton in 1816 to serve the surrounding cornfields. This was followed by a tour of the windmill in suitably-distanced groups so that trainees could learn about guiding techniques, how to deliver information and visitor safety.
In spite of regulations imposed as a result of Covid – which include the wearing of masks, social-distancing and use of hand sanitiser – volunteers and trainers were able to demonstrate that tours can be held in a safe way without too many restrictions.
Trainees reported that they enjoyed the course and are now eager to get going with their activities at the windmill. “Well-presented and fascinating” was a typical comment.
We are lucky enough to have a core of experienced and dedicated guides and stewards who will help mentor them through their ‘shadow’ tours and other activities, and we look forward to a new chapter of development and expansion based in the Brixton Windmill Centre.
Text and photos by Ann Lee