Freshly Baked: Brixton Windmill’s Daily Bread
Brixton Windmill’s public events and tours are being threatened by the community’s food revolution.
The disused windmill became a hit for educational school trips and charity fayres but public interest in organic and traceable foods offered the chance to return to its original purpose.
Brixton Windmill was built in 1816 and churned out wholemeal flour up until 1934, when traditional operation methods couldn’t meet the new demand for white flour. In 2003, charitable organisation, Friends of Windmill Gardens was established and secured lottery funds to restore the building and convert its original millstones to electrical power. The mill was re-opened in 2011 and hosted regular tours of the building, recalling Brixton’s glory days in the food industry. Fayres and musical acts also have slots in the mill’s busy calendar, but this could change if it is to be profitable.
Although the mill is operational, a £20,000 feasibility study is required before full production can resume. The study must ascertain the health and safety risks of running both the grinding and the educational tours, whilst also looking into broader issues such as, is this modern interest in traditional, hyperlocal produce simply a fad?
Friends of Windmill Gardens have partnered with the Brockwell Bake Association to spread the word and raise the cash and together they aim to return the mill to the position of local supplier by 2016, just in time for its 200th birthday.
The Old Post Office Bakery in Clapham is one of the independent stores using the flour to promote the campaign. The small amount of flour currently being produced is used to create a sourdough Windmill Loaf in the shape of mill sails.
At £3.50 per loaf it’s more cheeseboard than cheese on toast, however, the quality is drawing attention and you won’t find a fresher bake. Bakery Manager, Richard Scroggs, said that it’s increasingly popular with customers who buy around 40 loaves per week, of which 40 pence from each sale goes to the campaign.
If switching your standard slice doesn’t appeal but you want to support the Brixton food revolution, you can simply make a donation to the Flour Fund, although you will miss the chance to taste local history for yourself.
The Old Post Office Bakery only makes the Windmill Loaf at weekends, so don’t wait until it’s all snapped up.