Restoring Woodbridge’s famous Tide Mill to its former glory

Seamans Building was delighted to work on a major refurbishment of the Grade I listed Woodbridge Tide Mill.

Work to restore the historic riverside building, a landmark in the town, began in May 2011.

Working alongside local architect Tim Buxbaum, with funding from the Lottery Heritage Fund, the refurbishment was completed in April 2012.

After asbestos was removed from the building, our team restored the internal layout and installed a new staircase.

Specialists then replaced the old wooden cog wheels before starting work to refurbish the milling equipment.

A brand-new water wheel, replicating the mill’s existing wheel, was constructed by off-site specialists.

Seamans constructed a new covered building to enclose the building’s new water mill wheel.

An old external staircase was removed, the weather boarding overhauled and roof tiles checked and replaced.

After that, the mill pond was drained and cleared, and a new inter-tidal slipway constructed.

A walkway was also constructed above the river, so visitors can view the water wheel and access the rear of the mill.

Additionally, a new disabled toilet was constructed.

The majority of work took place during the summer, bringing its own challenges.

Despite the mill being closed during the refurbishment, there were still large numbers of tourists nearby, visiting the adjacent marina, restaurants, galleries and the historic quay.

This required careful management of the site to maintain access and logistics, while ensuring safety throughout.

Bob Sharpe, site manager on the project, said: “Working with the tide was one of the biggest challenges.

“Installing the new water mill, while having to judge how much time we had before the tide came in was tricky.

“Everything at the Tide Mill had to be purpose built too – everything was bespoke.”

The historic mill is now fully operational and after 850 years, is still running flour milling demonstrations for delighted visitors.

David Hart, Contracts Manager at Seamans Building, added: “The Tide Mill is among the most recognisable landmarks in Woodbridge and the town is rightly proud of its rich history.

“It feels like a history lesson working on a job like this – you learn so much about the building and its importance to the town.

“It has been an absolute pleasure working on this project, restoring such a significant historic building back to its former glory.”

You can find out more about our previous projects, benefiting a range of sectors, on our projects page.