Frank W. Gregory (1917-1998) A Milling Hero

Restoration of John Baker's Mill, Barnham

November 02nd 2014 by Elizabeth Trout

Click here for more information on John Baker's mill.

The mill with a flat roof, cap machinery on the ground and new gallery

In February 1989 Frank was contacted by telephone by Vanessa Mills, Chairman of the Bognor Regis Local History Society. She needed his help to write an article about the history of Barnham Windmill that was subsequently published in May 1989 in the Chichester Observer ‘Life’ magazine. She wrote a letter of thanks dated 21st June 1989. Frank kept a photocopy of a booklet ‘Art, craft and technology’ from March 1991. This included an a report on a project on Barnham Mill that Frank did with a small group of children to help them to develop their own ideas about how the mill and its buildings might be restored.

Barnham Windmill and its buildings are Grade II listed. However, in January 1995, Frank was asked by Mr Vic May, a previous owner who had begun the restoration work, to put forward his views in a planning dispute. Due to financial difficulties in the restoration Mr May had been forced to sell the site but it was divided in such a way that the mill and the adjoining house were sold separately, even though there was a restrictive covenant on the house tying it to the mill. The current owner of part of the site including the mill house wished to lift the restrictive covenant in order to develop it. Frank was given a report provided by the firm of McAndrew Martin Chartered Surveyors on behalf of the new owners of Barnham Mill, Mr & Mrs Barry Lee regarding their objections to the removal of the covenant dated Monday 13th February 1995.

Frank kept a draft of the letter on an old envelope. He wrote to the council in his capacity as a member of TIMS and SPAB opposing the lifting of the covenant as it would cause ‘untold difficulties’ during the restoration and repair; the windmill needed the land around it for this to be done on site. He also raises concerns that, although the site had originally been split in two, each portion was allowed to be sold separately rather than as a whole. A letter to Frank as an ‘interested party’ dated 3rd July 1995 from Arun District council states that planning permission was refused by Arun District Council on 8th March 1995, although the applicant had been given leave to appeal to the Secretary of State for the Environment. A local inquiry was to be held at Arun Civic Centre on 15th August 1995.

A further letter from Mr Barry Lee, the then current owner of Barnham Mill thanked Frank for his letter of support that led to the rejection of the planning application. It outlines the need to send a further letter of objection to the council, or a copy of his original letter, before the appeal in August. The owner of the house adjacent to the mill was disputing the boundary between the property and opposing the restoration as the sails will overhang his property. On the reverse of the letter is a history of the mill and its owners plus a form to join the supporters group for £8. There is no further correspondence on the outcome of the second appeal or any further details of the restoration.

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