The Friends of Shirley Windmill
Looking after Croydon’s heritage
Shirley Windmill is owned by Croydon Council, but is staffed and managed on Open Days entirely by volunteers from the Friends of Shirley Windmill who give visitors a very warm welcome and provide official Guides to accompany our guided tours. The opportunity to visit, tour the mill, and make use of our delightful little Visitor Centre is open to all, due to the Friends’ efforts.
The Friends of Shirley Windmill was formed in 1995 and a working committee was set up to arrange the first public opening of the mill on National Mills Day 1995. That first opening on 14 May was a baptism of fire, as about 1000 people arrived to tour the mill! The huge numbers demonstrated the great degree of local interest in this most interesting historic asset that had been inaccessible to the public for so long. The original content and sequence of the guided tours devised for that day has been maintained ever since, and has worked very well.
We learnt a lot from that first experience, and our Guides have, over the intervening years, become expert at presenting Shirley Windmill to visitors, some of whom have come from far corners of the world. From 1996 onwards a regular pattern of Open Days during the season was established, and since then, over 15,000 people have visited us!
The Visitor Centre
The Visitor Centre Team always does so much to keep the operation running smoothly. They make our visitors comfortable whilst they are waiting for their tour to start, serving them with tea and lovely home-made cakes to enjoy whilst relaxing on our “village green”. They provide a welcoming homely atmosphere for visitors, partly by chatting to them — they’re very good at that — and they also supply sustenance to the Guides (most important!)
When we host school, Cub and Brownie groups at the mill, it is so good to see groups of youngsters enjoying their visit, and we are sure that their interest and imagination is stirred enough that the memory will stay with many of them into later life.
The continued interest of young people like them will ensure the future of the mill in years to come. The mill caters for groups of all ages, and long may it be so.
Any way we can devise of bringing the mill and its Open Days to the attention of the public is followed up as best we can, and any assistance offered in this respect is gratefully received.
At the beginning of 2010 the mill’s sails were repaired and reconstructed. Windmills are very maintenance intensive, and a constant watch is needed to ensure that our mill stays in a fit and proper condition for visitors. Naturally, the Friends take their responsibility very seriously, as we are very keen to help safeguard Shirley Windmill for what we hope is a long and successful future.
Join the Friends!
A group of Friends
By joining us you will be helping to preserve and display this interesting and unusual piece of local history. New members are always made most welcome, especially if they would like to become a Guide or Visitor Centre Helper. We are a very friendly, mixed bunch, all with an interest in Croydon’s heritage and keen to share it with everyone, and we really have some fun when we meet up.
To join us, all you have to do is contact the Hon. Secretary Tony Skrzypczyk on 020 8406 4676. There is a very modest subscription, which entitles members to receive a free copy of our newsletter, The Fantail, each time it is published.
We will never run short of enthusiasm, but we must ensure that we never run short of people to show this wonderful piece of Shirley’s history to the public. Come along — join us!