Visit to historic Drapers Mill inspires St Gregory’s pupils

St Gregory's children visit Drapers Mill

An historic windmill has set the learning sails in motion for pupils at St Gregory’s Catholic Primary in Margate.

The Year 3 and 4 groups wanted to find out more about popular landmarks in their town and the Drapers Mill, standing proudly overlooking Dane Valley, was the perfect choice.

The children learnt about the history of the impressive structure and its legacy, the growth and decline of the milling industry locally and how a smock windmill works.

Inspired by the visit, children created an information poster featuring what they had learnt about the mill, augmented by what the learnt in class.

Teacher Shimona Sandwell co-ordinated the trip and has developed this term’s local history study on Margate. She explained: “The chance to visit a location that was so important to the growth of Margate was a great opportunity for the children. They were able to see and touch items they have learned about in lessons. It really brought their lessons to life.”

During the guided tour children were able to touch the millstones, explore the interior and walk out onto the viewing platforms.

Drapers Mill is a black weatherboarded smock mill built circa 1850. It was restored to milling order in 2019. The mill’s three pairs of millstones can be operated by wind power or by a gas-powered engine.

Kent County Council acquired the mill in 1968. It was restored between 1969 and 1975 with help from the volunteers of the Drapers Windmill Trust, who continue to manage and operate the mill which is a Grade II listed building.

The current mill is one of three that were originally on the site – Drapers Mill, Little Drapers Mill that stood next door, and the Pumper, which was located where the new houses to the rear of the mill now exist.  The latter was for pumping water for Margate town.

The majestic four double sweeps, or sails as they are also known, are 26’6″ (8.08m) long and 6’6″ (1.98m) wide, with a total span of 66 feet (20.12m). The cap of the mill is winded by a fantail and there are three pairs of millstones inside.

Noah Graham, St Gregory’s Lower Key Stage 2 lead, said: “By giving children this amazing experience they are able to give really understand the local history we teach in their lessons. Our aim is to provide all children with these amazing opportunities that enhance their learning and understanding of the world.”

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