VOLUNTEERS say repair work is going well after broken paddles forced a mill wheel out of action – but more volunteers are still needed.

An estimated £5,500 was needed to fund repairs to the wheel at Alderford Mill in Sible Hedingham.

The mill dates back to the Domesday Book.

The current building, which dates back to about 1720, is managed by the Friends of Alderford Mill, who run monthly open days.

Volunteer Owen Hawkes said fundraising is more than two thirds of the way to the total, but the Friends of Alderford Mill are still seeking sponsorship for the remaining ‘assemblies’.

He said: “Besides many individuals sponsoring complete or part assemblies, the Braintree Society has sponsored ten complete assemblies and the Council for the Protection of Rural England is giving the mill a substantial grant which may cover another ten.

“The plan is to work on the waterwheel one half day a week on the same day every week when the county millwright is available.”

Mr Hawkes said that the group are seeking volunteers who can spare a morning or afternoon to help with basic engineering and carpentry work needed on the mill.

“Work will not be allowed to commence without a minimum number of people present and at least two mobile phones,” he said.

“Safety gear will be mandatory for working on the wheel.

“The work will entail dismantling and removing the old timbers using spanners and mallets, cleaning the cast iron centre portion of the wheel and then reassembling the new parts cutting and tailoring the timber to fit.

“Some of the work may involve gaining awkward access to the centre of the wheel.

“During the work the water wheel will be prevented from moving unless required to gain access and only when safe to do so.”

Any prospective volunteers can be shown the job before committing themselves.

Anyone interested in volunteering to help the project can contact Mr Hawkes on 07939 372987.