ONE of the leading restorers at Wilton Windmill has died. David Nicholls took over restoration work in 1975, followed work started by Derek Ogden.

In a tribute to him, The Wilton Windmill Society said: “David was passionate about windmills and had a particular affection for Wilton. He later moved the Chiseldon Windmill from its original site to the Windmill Business Park near Swindon.

“David had been in regular communication with the Society over the years and would attend our AGMs each year.”

Mr Nicholls died on August 21 and leaves his wife Diane and their daughter. When he took over the Wilton restoration he wrote: “One of the requirements of our project was to obtain a good pair of French Burr millstones, because the mill had been left with only one pair of granite stones not suitable for everyday milling.

“Via a circuitous route I was directed to a local watermill near Chilton Foliat where there was a pair of French stones and later I was recommended to contact the Potter brothers at Ecchinswell Watermill who also had a spare pair of first-class French stones. Reg, Mont, and Clarence Potter became very good friends and helped me set up and dress the stones for the windmill. Their own working watermill at Ecchinswell was a delight. They told me that their grandfather had been the last Wilton Windmill millright in 1920.”

In another tribute, fellow millwright Mildred Cookson, who used to be the miller at Maple Durham and now runs the Mills Archive in Reading, said: “Many people and many mills that have had contact with him over the years will miss him. David was always willing to help either with his knowledge of mills or practical assistance.

“I was fortunate to see David a few days before he died as we went to his home to collect more materials to complete his collection at the archive.

“David changed my life, starting my 30 year career as a miller. David asked if I was interested in actual milling, as he was looking for someone to take his place.

“Over the following weeks I learned a great deal from him from stripping the stones down for cleaning to changing the paddles on the waterwheel.

Then one Sunday, I arrived at 10am and we started milling. David looked at his watch and said ‘I’ll be back at 5’. Fortunately it went well but it is a day I will never forget.”