Historic Bursledon Windmill closed due to council cuts

Bursledon Windmill
Picture: www.visit-hampshire.co.uk

Bursledon Windmill has closed to the public after the county council approved Hampshire Cultural Trust’s plan.

The trust notified the county council of its plan to close the windmill, which was build in 1814, the year before the Battle of Waterloo, just off Junction 8 of the M27 between Southampton and Portsmouth, in September 2023. The notice period ended on March 31, 2024.

In 2014, Hampshire County Council entered into a management and funding agreement (MFA) with the cultural trust to transfer responsibility for providing the council’s arts, museum and heritage services.

Since 2014, the cultural trust has managed and operated the venue, offering guided tours about the windmills and the country’s milling history. A small shop provides a range of gift items and refreshments.

In February 2023, Eastleigh Borough Council terminated its funding agreement with the cultural trust for the grade II-listed building which has been a working windmill and heritage attraction since the 1990s. The termination became effective in August 2023 when financial support was withdrawn.

In August 2023, the trust asked the county council if it could end operations at Bursledon Windmill due to financial difficulties following the funding withdrawal.

On September 25, 2023, Hampshire County Council’s leader and executive member for Hampshire 2050 and corporate services agreed to the plans.

The council’s commercial transfer agreement (CTA) said that if operations ended, it would be necessary to deal with the items within the property that were transferred to the cultural trust in 2014. The council may request that the items be transferred to the council or a new provider of operations.

On site, 26 historic objects associated with the social history of 19th and 20th-century farming life are displayed.

Of those, 11 are accessioned items — an object formally accepted into the museum collection — and 15 are handling objects — historical objects or replicas that do not meet the criteria of the collection development policy.

The county council has approved the September plan and addresses all council concerns.

The report said that “the council accepts the future course of action suggested by the cultural trust in connection with the venue closure, including management of accessioned Items, handling objects, and other assets”.

Despite the cultural trust’s efforts to keep the windmill open by “diversifying” revenue through “grants, donations or commercial opportunities since 2015”, a report said it would not be “sufficient to support the financial viability of the venue.”