A working windmill might seem like a thing of the past but a community in Leicestershire has been working hard to change that.  

Swannington, a former mining village, is home to the 200 year-old Hough Mill, one of the few remaining windmills across the country that is open to the public.

Over the years, the local charity Swannington Heritage Trust has been working hard to engage residents in the community and raise funds to restore and preserve the mill’s rich history.

Now, thanks to a £100,000 gift from a CAF Legacy donor, the charity will be able to showcase the mill’s history to a broader audience and finance plans to restore it to its former glory.

Hough Mill
Hough Mill

With an annual income of around £10,000, the legacy gift came as a complete shock to the charity’s volunteers, who now hope the funds will help attract visitors from across the country. The charity was not geared up to handle a legacy of this size and has received ongoing support from CAF, including staged payments from them.

Geo-environmental engineer and charity chair Katrina Pentlow said: “It’s what dreams are made of for a charity our size. We went from fundraising little by little at local events, and through memberships and grants, to suddenly being able to cover the costs of a major refurbishment project. We weren’t geared up for dealing with that kind of money, but it’s a fantastic position to be in, and we hope to do the donor proud.”

The charity has been able to unveil the revamped structure in recent months, as the gift meant they could cover £30,000 in costs for a millwright, a specialist mill engineer, to install framework sails.


Speaking about the significance of the site, Katrina added: “We are all about preserving industrial heritage sites so that future generations can enjoy them.

“It’s such a fantastic thing for the community, that’s my main motivation. By preserving it, we are protecting its history and ensuring it has a long-lasting legacy. We host visiting groups and hold several family events a year and people really do appreciate it because it increases engagement with the whole community.”

Swannington Heritage Trust, an entirely volunteer led charity, was created by the community and works with partner organisations both within the village and the heritage, museum and nature sectors.

The organisation bought the Hough Mill in 1994, then spent several years planning the restoration project, obtaining grants and fundraising in the community.

Hough Mill
Now, Katrina says the organisation also hopes to use some of the legacy gift to extend the charity’s museum.

Speaking about the project, Monica Brown, Head of Charity Advisory and Programmes at CAF, said: “I never thought going into this that I would be learning so much about mills! I can see now that there is so much more to it, and the local community really cares about preserving and celebrating its history for many generations to come. It’s important for us to be involved in seeing how the plans are implemented as well, as the funds are 10 times the charity’s annual income. It’s a truly unique project, and one that I’m so glad to be a part of.”

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