I had the great pleasure of addressing the Sussex Mills Group at their annual general meeting last night at Blatchington Windmill in Hove, East Sussex. The venue; a beautiful and lovingly restored 19th century windmill. I was thrilled to be given a brief tour up all five floors. A curious mill, for it sits upon a brick building whose original purpose is unknown, although possibly it was a coastguard lookout tower used to keep an eye out for smugglers.
The twenty or so windmill society members – either windmill owners themselves or members of windmill trusts and involved in the restoration of mills in Sussex – were gathered principally to elect and re-elected committee officers, approve minutes from the last meeting, air gripes and sort out any-other-business. After this a speaker usually gives a presentation on some aspect of heritage. It was my task to fill this 45 minute spot with something engaging. Naturally I told them about my heritage videos and how I made them.
However upon learning that the trustees and owners, who, shall I politely say, were of a certain age, weren’t promoting their windmills on social media, and actually shunned the likes of Facebook, Youtube and Twitter as newfangled and solely the frivolous domain of the young, I quickly changed tack. I suggested that while they weren’t on these platforms the rest of the world was and, as a result, they were missing a trick.
After thirty minutes of demonstrating the benefits of video and posting short clips to social media I think I convinced them to open their eyes. I reminded them they held fabulous assets. The public would love to come and explore. I went on to say they needed to attract young enthusiastic members to help keep up and promote these examples of Sussex heritage. It was all possible if they moved with the times.
Instead of dismissing my message as beyond their capabilities, as I feared, I was thrilled when a buzz in the room broke out. Questions were asked, opportunities seen. I suggested I would help by filming my walks around their windmills and post them on my website.
All in all, it was a very rewarding experience and I look forward to encouraging these lovely people to step into the 21st century.
Blatchington Mill opens its doors regularly to the public and offers guided tours. You should visit. It is a fabulous mill. http://www.sussexmillsgroup.org.uk/blatchington.htm