A MILLING enthusiast is the new owner of an Oxfordshire landmark once feared at risk from developers.

Stuart Fassnidge has been announced as taking on the grade-II listed Wheatley Windmill by the preservation society which restored the structure more than a decade ago.

The previous owners of the windmill, descendants of the last millers to work the site, put the building and surrounding green belt land up for sale two years with an asking price of £300,000.

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Announcing the news, Geoff Stephens, chairman of the Wheatley Windmill Preservation Society, described Mr Fassnidge as a South Oxfordshire local and milling enthusiast.

He said he would also be bringing other milling equipment to the site which would add to what is already on offer during the society's open days.

It is understood this will include a vintage tractor and an unusual Victorian mobile mill.

Oxford Mail:

Stuart Fassnidge with his mobile mill in 2016. Picture: Damian Halliwell

The windmill, which was fully restored in 2009, usually has open days on the second Sunday of each month between May and October, though these have been suspended due to coronavirus.

Mr Stephens said: “It works out perfectly for everybody, Stuart gets to carry own with his hobby and we can keep the windmill running for benefit of the community."

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The preservation society currently has a 25 year operating licence which is active for another five years but beyond that it would have been vulnerable had a sympathetic buyer not been found.

When sale plans were revealed in 2018 the society and Wheatley Parish Council applied to South Oxfordshire District Council for the windmill to be listed as an asset of community value, which was approved in July of that year.

Oxford Mail:

Geoff Stephens in front of Wheatley Windmill. Picture: Richard Cave

The extra protection meant if an offer did come in for the windmill which did not retain preserve the current role of the building residents would have six months to put together a counter offer.

Luckily, Mr Fassnidge is keen to continue the work of the society and under his ownership the preservation group will continue to maintain and operate the mill as a charity for the ‘enjoyment and education’ of the local community.

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It is anticipated that the current arrangement will be renewed when it expires in 2025.

Mr Stephens said: “We are relieved that the future of the mill as a working entity has been secured and we are hoping to hold a ‘meet the new owner’ event as soon as the current Covid precautions allow.”

Oxford Mail:

The mill stone inside Wheatley Windmill

The Wheatley mill was previously owned by Paul Cripps and Sarah Storey, who both live on the Isle of Man.

They are the descendants of George Cripps, who bought the mill in 1857 and passed it on to his sons.

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Ezra Cripps was the last miller at the outbreak of the war in 1914. For decades afterwards, the windmill was neglected and fell victim to fire and lightning.

Determined to preserve the structure, 42 years ago volunteers started a campaign to get the mill up and running again, which they achieved a decade ago.