One hundred years ago windmills working alongside our rivers to drain the adjoining marshes were a common sight. Hardley Windmill was one such drainage pump operating beside the River Yare. This windmill powered an Appold turbine, capable of raising twelve tons of water per minute via a twelve foot high vertical shaft, five feet in diameter.
The mill was built in 1874 for Sir Thomas Proctor Beauchamp of Langley Hall (now Langley School) by Ludham millwright Daniel England. It operated until around 1950 when it was tail winded and badly damaged. It was abandoned by the Internal Drainage Board and, like most other drainage windmills, replaced by an electric drainage pump.
In 1991, with the mill derelict, volunteers under the inspirational leadership of architect and mill enthusiast Peter Grix started work on restoration. By 2005 structural work on the tower was complete. With the award of funding from Leader+ in 2007/08 work on the cap and sails moved on apace. The cap was lifted onto the top of the tower in April 2009 and the sails finally turned on 9th October 2009.
The Leader+ grant also allowed for the construction of a visitor centre and moorings. These were both completed in 2009.
The internal workings were completed in 2013, with the mill pumping water again under sail power for the first time in over 70 years. Please see ARCHIVE section for more information.