Chris Balmer (conservation blacksmith), George Irwin (conservation joiner) and Kieran Loughran (conservation joiner)
Project: Ballycopeland Windmill Conservation Project
Ballycopeland Windmill is an iconic monument and architectural feature in County Down. It is the last remaining windmill in Northern Ireland that has its original internal mechanism still intact, along with the complex of buildings associated with it, which includes the miller’s cottage, kiln, drying floor and kilnman’s house. The project involved completing specialist conservation works, therefore, required specialist craft workmanship in the fields of conservation, blacksmithing and joinery. The three craftsmen, Chris, George and Kieran, were responsible for a range of restoration tasks, including removing the sails and fantail and constructing the new sails to a historically accurate design. They also repaired the roller reefing system, making Ballycopeland Windmill the only remaining windmill in the world that still has this patented system in working order, raising the site to international significance. The project not only focused on conservation work but also combined public outreach and engagement. This was achieved by a series of conservation showcases and opening the tower to the public on specified days. The project has resulted in this monument being saved for generations to come, reinstating the correct historical aesthetic of the tower for the first time since the 1930s.