Transforming Saintfield’s Windmill Field into a community heritage park

Transforming Saintfield’s Windmill Field into a community heritage park

a ruined stone windmill building in the countryside
The ruins of a windmill dominate Saintfield Community Heritage Park.

National Lottery Grants for Heritage – £250,000 to £5million

Date awarded
Local Authority
Newry, Mourne and Down
Saintfield Community Association
Award Given
A National Lottery windfall for Saintfield Community Association will provide much needed free-to-access green space in the historic County Down village.

The three-acre park is home to an early 19th-century windmill tower, flour mill and miller's cottage. Built in 1803, the windmill operated until 1839 when the windmill’s sails were blown off by a hurricane known locally as the 'Night of the Big Wind'. The area also contains remnants of track and two bridges from the Belfast and County Down railway which operated from the 1850s to 1950.

The park design was shaped in consultation with local people and will provide access for all abilities with paths starting at the community centre, viewpoints of the windmill and railway track plus interpretation panels on the area’s history and industrial heritage.

An aerial photo of a field with ruined mill buildings during winter
Ten years of work on opening up the park should be complete by the end of 2025.

Visitors to the park can spend time in nature and enjoy:

  • a lower area with paths leading to the river that powered the mill
  • an area for outdoor classes for young people to learn about the environment
  • seating and an informal meeting place in the centre of the park

Martyn Todd, project team leader, said: “In the coming months we hope to recruit more volunteers for the community heritage park, some of which will be trained as guides for visitors to the park and the Saintfield area.”

To improve biodiversity, a wildlife corridor and a wetland area will be created along the old railway track bed and nest boxes for birds and bats will be added to the buildings. There are also plans to grown pollinator-friendly plants, conservation varieties of fruit trees and the types of cereals once milled in wind and water mills two hundred years ago.

Dr Paul Mullan, The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Northern Ireland Director, said: “We’re delighted to see the creation of the area’s first free-to-access community park, with its fascinating industrial heritage at its heart. The funding, made possible by National Lottery players, secures the future of the historic windmill and opens up a green space for everyone to enjoy.”

The Heritage Fund initially awarded the Saintfield Community Heritage Park project £135,947 in development funding followed by a £903,771 delivery grant in March 2024.

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