This year marks the 150th anniversary since Shirley Windmill was built and the historic site opened to the public on Sunday as part of National Mills Day.

The event was the first in a series of open days between now and October which will allow visitors to get a closer look inside the historic building in Post Mill Close, Shirley.

Today's mill was built by Richard Alwen in 1854 to replace the first mill on the site, built by his grandfather William Alwen, in 1808.

The mill was destroyed by fire in 1854.

By 1893, Alfred Rayson, the owner at the time, was forced to abandon the mill as it was unviable. After closure the mill was allowed to deteriorate, being struck by lightning in 1899 and again in 1906.

There have been a number of restorations over the years.

First in 1927 by George Givan who had purchased Shirley Court and the mill. In 1951 the mill and land were acquired by the Croydon Corporation Mrs Annie Givan.

The mill was threatened with demolition when John Ruskin School was built but it was protected by its listed status and strong public interest.

The possibility of the windmill becoming a museum has been mooted since 1977, but it was not until August 1996 that it was announced that Croydon Council was to receive a grant of £218,100 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for this.

John Jackson, newly-elected chair of the Friends of Shirley Windmill, said: "Obviously the mill is no longer in use and the sails are fixed, but people have the opportunity this summer to come and have a look around.

"We've only just started talking about how we are going to commemorate the 150th anniversary and it will probably be taking place later in the year, but we are not sure what we are doing yet."

The lottery money has helped restore the mill to working order and open it to a wide-ranging audience.

There are touch screen interactive displays, information panels and hands-on activities provide an exciting educational experience which meets the needs of the national curriculum for school parties, and an enjoyable day out for the general public.

Shirley Windmill will be open to the public on the following days:
Sunday, June 6, 1pm- 5pm
Sunday, July 4, 1pm- 5pm
Sunday, August 1, 1pm-5pm
Sunday, September 5, 1pm- 5pm
Sunday, September 12, 12noon- 5pm (Heritage Day)

Sunday, October 3,1pm- 5pm