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Tributes paid to millwright Vincent Pargeter

PUBLISHED: 09:27 06 November 2015 | UPDATED: 09:27 06 November 2015

The cap frame is carefully lifted by crane on to the top of Polkey Mill on Reedham Marshes - Millwright, Vincent Pargetar on top of the mill

Picture: James Bass
Copy: Emily Dennis
For: EDP NEWS
EDP Pics ©2004  Tel: (01603) 772434

The cap frame is carefully lifted by crane on to the top of Polkey Mill on Reedham Marshes - Millwright, Vincent Pargetar on top of the mill Picture: James Bass Copy: Emily Dennis For: EDP NEWS EDP Pics ©2004 Tel: (01603) 772434

Eastern Daily Press © 2004

Vincent Pargeter, a millwright who had a lifelong passion for the Broads, has died aged 72.

Polkeys Mill close to Reedham.
Dutch millwrights visiting Norfolk to learn about how we care for old mills

Picture: James Bass
For: EDP News
Eastern Daily Press © 2010  (01603) 772434Polkeys Mill close to Reedham. Dutch millwrights visiting Norfolk to learn about how we care for old mills Picture: James Bass For: EDP News Eastern Daily Press © 2010 (01603) 772434

Described as one of the country’s leaders in his craft, he spent 45 years studying, recording, conserving and repairing mills across the region.

He died in hospital on Saturday after a short battle with pneumonia, his ex-wife Linda Pargeter said.

Tributes have been paid to the man who loving restored mills in Norfolk and Suffolk – from Thurne Dyke and Hardley Mill to Denver Mill in west Norfolk – as well as his Wherry Maud.

Even as a child, Mr Pargeter showed an interest in mills and the hobby quickly turned into a craft he taught himself.

A flight of geese greets wherry MAUD as she takes to the water on Wroxham Broad.
Photo: Bill Smith
EDP pics © 1999
Tel: 01603 772434A flight of geese greets wherry MAUD as she takes to the water on Wroxham Broad. Photo: Bill Smith EDP pics © 1999 Tel: 01603 772434

After leaving school he went to work in a bank, but in 1969 he left and started working on mills with a friend, a passion which grew from then.

The use of windmills died out during the late Victorian period and they became obsolete. Construction of windmills was stopped and they fell out of use until there were only a handful working by the 1950s.

As well as mills, Mr Pargeter, along with his then wife, also restored the Wherry Maud over 18 years, transforming her from a sunken wreck into a heritage gem.

Mrs Pargeter, who lives in Tibbenham, said: “His passions were mills and the Norfolk Broads. It started with holidays on with Broads with his family and continued for the rest of his life.

An autumn mist rolls in over the fields at Hardley Mill. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYAn autumn mist rolls in over the fields at Hardley Mill. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“He loved the landscape. The big skies, flat marshes and what looks like the boats sailing across the land. We both felt the same way about the area.

“He was an expert, but millwrighting was a great love as well. He was so keen on restoring faithfully, had a great attention to detail and craftsmanship.”

Keen to share his skills with others, Mr Pargeter, who lived in Chelmsford but spend a lot of time in Norfolk, became involved with Broads Authority’s scheme nine years ago to train up five millwrights.

Jonathan Cook, chairman of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, said: “His knowledge was second to none and his actions have ensured the survival of countless mills that would otherwise have been lost.

4/6  The sails of Thurne Mill will turn for the first time since 1936 on Sunday 22/09/02.

Pictured is Vicent Pargeter checking that everything is OK.

Pullinger story.4/6 The sails of Thurne Mill will turn for the first time since 1936 on Sunday 22/09/02. Pictured is Vicent Pargeter checking that everything is OK. Pullinger story.

“Tragically, much of that knowledge has gone with him, Vincent often joking that he would get around to writing up his personal experiences, research and learning ‘when he retired’, something he never quite managed to do.

“He leaves an empty void which is going to be so very hard to fill, one of knowledge, time-served experience and passion for his craft.

“Vincent was not only passionate about mills, he also had a love of boats and was the proud co-owner of Maud, a Norfolk Wherry. His loss will be felt deeply within that community too.”

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