From Corn to Flour, the history
The first windmills were built probably more than a thousand years ago. The ideas behind windmills are also being used in wind turbines to generate electricity.
Windmills were invented to solve a problem; how could people grind enough corn to make the flour needed for baking bread?
Water was first used to power millstones in Ancient Greece many years ago. The Water Mill had a wooden wheel with paddles attached to it. It had to be built next to a river or stream. The paddles were turned by the flowing water, and as the wheel turned, it turned the millstones.
There were lots of experiments with wind sails before a working machine capable of turning a millstone was built. The earliest windmill had horizontal sails! The sails were on a shaft, and when the wind blew the sails, the shaft turned the millstone at the bottom.
The early windmills rested on a huge upright post, so they were called post mills. The post rested on two cross posts, these were buried in the ground. To keep the sails facing the wind, the miller swung the whole building round the central post. He pushed on a large beam called a tail pole, which was attached to the back of the mill.
Smock and Tower Mills
Smock mills got their name because they looked like the smocks worn by country workers of the day. Smock mills usually had eight sides.
Various methods of 'winding' the mill automatically were tried. The most successful designs started by having the sails and wind shaft mounted in a cap at the top of the hill. This cap turned around the top of the mill building on something similar to a railway track!
At first the cap was pushed round by hand, using a long pole which almost reached the ground. But in 1745, an engineer called Edmund Lee invented a way of turning the cap automatically. A fantail, which was like a small
windmill, was fixed at a right-angle to the main sails. When the wind changed direction, it blew the sails of the fantail round and its shaft drove the cap around the track until the main sails faced into the wind.
Wind power doesn't pollute the atmosphere like power stations which burn coal or oil, and power are now using wind turbines to generate electricity. Tiny wind turbines charge batteries to run televisions and lighting on boats and caravans They also produce electricity for buildings in remote areas.
Counties and their windmills;
Barton Watermill, Barton-le-Clay
A 3 storey watermill, with an overshot wheel, which last worked in 1029, converted in 1995 with some machinery intact and waterwheel again turning. Now used as a gift shop within a garden centre and shopping village.
Fully restored post mill build in 18 th century, with a later roundhouse. Last worked commercially in 1936. Restoration work planned in early 2004.
A 3 storey stone tower mill, with a boat-shaped carp, built around 1815.
Lacey Green Windmill;
A 4 storey smock mill, built about 1650. Last worked about 1915. Believed to be Englands oldest surviving smock mill.
An open trestle post mill, extensively repaired and with most machinery intact. A mill is recorded on the site in 1636
Brick and timber working watermill on an island in the River Ouse, dating from the 1600s and containing 19 th century milling machinery and a restored waterwheel. Owned by the National Trust
Dunham Massey Sawmill
A corn mill converted to a sawmill in 1860. Machinery includes a frame saw, band saw, circular saw, boring machine and a lathe. Owned by the National Trust.
Nether Alderley Watermill
A 15 th century building, with a low pitched, stone-tiled roof and original oak timbers. There are two overshot waterwheels in tandem. The machinery is mainly victorian, fully restored to working order, and runs when the mill is open.
Cotehele Watermill, St Dominick;
A late 18 th century water mill, which worked commercially until 1964. Now in working order, and milling flour on certain days. A second wheel once operated a small sawmill providing wood for strawberry punnets. Owned by the National Trust.
Melinsey Watermill, Veryan, Truro
A farm mill on an old site, last worked commercially in 1928. Complete with an 1882 iron overshot wheel. Now restored to working order.
High Mill, Alston
The last remaining link in a chain of water mills in Alston since the Middle Ages. The water wheel, designed in 1767 by John Smeaton, the famous engineers, was restored in 1991 by the North Pennines Heritage Trust.
Hern Corn Mill, Beetham
The mill dates from about 1740 and has some contemporary machinery. A lowed mill with four pairs of millstones and an internal high breast waterwheel, all working.
Massons Mills, Matlock Bath
Built in 1783 as the showpiece mills of Sir Richard Arkwright. The oldest continuously occupied mill in the world. Now a working textile mill museum, producing cloth on old looms.
There has been a water-powered mill at Stainsby since the 13 th century. The present mill has machinery of the 1850's driven from a line shaft. Includes a kiln, three pairs of stones and a 16ft pitchback waterwheel, and was built to grind for the Hardwick Estate.
Bicclescombe Watermill, Illfracombe
A late 18 th century mill with only a single pair of millstones. Restored and now run for demonstration only.
Docton Mill and Gardens, Nr Hartland
An overshot water mill with turning wheel and some machinery; last ground corn in 1908. Restored 1980, now converted to electricity generation. Set in magnificent wooded gardens.
Boat Watermill, Corfe Castle
A water-powered grain mill, built in the 18 th and early 19 th centuries. The water wheel was replaced by a water turnbine in the early 20 th century, and worked until the 1950's . Partly restored.
A large Grade 2 stone watermill built in 1802. It has a 20ft iron overshot waterwheel, and two of the original five pairs of millstones.
Aythorpe Roding Windmill
The largest post mill remaining in Essex ; built before 1770 and worked until 1932. Restored to working order 1981 by Essex County Council. Sails turn and flour milled occasionally.
A Suffolk-type post mill with a 3 storey roundhouse. Worked near Woodbridge in the 1840's and was moved to Ramsey in 1842. It last worked by wind in 1939. The mill was restored by volunteers in the 1970s.
Arlington Watermill, Bilbury
A 4 storey corn and fulling mill built in 1710. The machinery was sold for scrap in 1914 and the present machinery moved to the mill from North Cerney . It is now turned slowly by electricity and has no waterwheel.
A 5 storey tarred brick tower mill, was in open fields when built in 1816. Worked by wind until 1862 and later by gas engine. The cap and sails were repaired in the 1980s. All the machinery remains.
Waterwheel, Merton Abbey Mills
The waterwheel was used for washing fabric in the river as part of the textile manufacturing process at the Liberty Silk Works. Now restored and again turning to drive a potter's wheel, a lathe, a heat pump and to generate some electricity.
Alderholt Mill, nr Fordinbridge
A 3-storey mill restored in 1986 to working order. The small millstream drives a breasthot watermill.
Hockley Watermill, Twyford
Unusual barn mill with interesting horizontal machinery, which originally drove a threshing machine. Machinery now turns for demonstration. Mill can grind, but only worked occasionally due to fragile gearing.
Cromer Windmill, Ardeley;
A white weather boarded post mill, the last surviving in Hertfordshire, with a brick roundhouse.
An 18 th century watermill on an earlier site. Auxilliary power from 1928 Crossley oil engine. Two pairs of working millstones in line driven from a horizontal layshaft, producing organic wheat and rye flour.
Crabble Water mill, Dover
A 6 storey weatherboarded watermill, built in 1812, and last worked commercially in 1893. Fully restored to working order and producing stoneground wholemeal flour on three of the five pairs of stones, plus external hoist and flour dressing machinery.
Chart Gunpowder Mills, Faversham
One of several groups of water mills which formed the Home Works, in existence by 1652. This was the oldest of Faversham's three gunpowder factories. The surviving mill dates from about 1760 and contains 18 th and 19 th century machinery.
Marsh Windmill, Thornton Cleveleys
A tower mill built in 1794 and worked until 1922. Since restored, and the sails are now driven by an electric motor (when not too windy!) Only guided tours of limited numbers are shown round the mill above the first floor.
An early 19 th century brick-built water mill with adjoining house. A 17ft diameter high breast wheel drives 4 pairs of millstones through two line shafts, and a sawbench in an outbuilding.
A 6 storey, 5 sailed tower mill built by an Alford millwright about 1837. Still in full commercial use, producing organic flours and cereal. Restored brick over and rebuilt engine house.
A post mill of late 18 th century with a roundhouse and tailpole. Restored to working order in 1965. It is hoped to mil milling again soon.
A mid 19 th century brick tower mill, which worked by wind until 1956. Restored in the 1960s the mill retains its internal machinery. Restored again to workable order 1999.
A large 6 storey tower corn mill built in 1835, which retains much of its original machinery. In working order producing bread flour from one set of millstones.
Gunton Park Sawmill
The only water powered sawmill in Norfolk. Built about 1775, it is a thatched, timber -framed structure. There were two waterwheels; one driving a circular saw and the other a reciprocating saw. Now restored to working order and operated by volunteers from the Norfolk Industrial Archaeology Society.
Green's Windmill, Sneinton, Nottingham
Restored 5 storey tower mill built in 1807, once owned by George Green, the mathematical physicist. The mill works when conditions allow, producing 6 types of organic wholemeal and white flour on two pairs of stones.
A 4 storey black tower mill with an ogee cap and four sails. Received an SPAB Mill Plaque for the restoration in 1995. Restored by the Ostick family to working order.
Charney Watermill, Charney Bassett
A 3 storey water-mill, built in 1807, coursed limestone to the ground floor and weatherboarded above.
Church Mill, Standlake
A 19 th century mill on an early site, with an internal 11ft undershot waterwheel, refurbished in 1992. The waterwheel originally drive two pairs of millstones through two layshafts, one of which was replaced by a generator. Last used commercially in the 1950s for animal feed.
A 6 storey tower windmill, built 1809, last worked by wind in 1922, at present working by electric motor. One pair of sails now erected. Cap and sails hoped to be turning early 2004. The mill contains a smutter and four pairs of stones, a Wegmann roller mill, two reels and a wire machine.
Daniel's Watermill, Bridgenorth
A full restored and picturesque working water-mill which has been in the same family for over 300 years. The 3 pairs of millstones are driven by a 39ft water wheel. The mill stones dramatically below Oldbury Viadcuct of the Severn Valley Railway.
A sandstone tower mill build in 1809. Very derelict by the 1980s, when rebuilding began. Work is still proceeding, and the mill now has a cap and sails, and is winded by fantail.
SOMERSET AND BRISTOL
Bishops Lydeard Watermill
A 4 storey water-mill with a working water wheel. Craft displays and exhibitions. West Somerset Railway 4 min walk.
Chard Museum , Horse-Powered Cider Mill
A horse wheel connected to pulping machinery, used commercially for cider making until 1939, in the upper part of an old stone cider house. It was dismantled and rebuilt in the museum.
Stembridge Windmill, High Ham
The only remaining thatched windmill in England . Built in 1822 and used until 1910. New sails fitted in the 1970s. Owned by the National Trust.
Cheddleton Flint Mill
Two adjacent water-mill once grinding corn and later flint for the pottery industry. Flint mill built 1783. Corn mill built on an earlier site. Canal wharf with narrow boat. Souvenir shop.
Worston Watermill, Great Bridgeford
A 4 storey water-mill built about 1800, with an undershot water wheel.
A tower mill built in 1823 and worked by wind until 1925. It then worked with a Blackstone oil engine until 1941. The mill was restored in the mid 1980s, but was damaged in the storm of 1987, and is again being restored.
An ancient post mill, dated 1689, but probably much older, which, unusually turns clockwise!
Now Grade I Listed because of the amount of 16th century timbers surviving. There is also a smock mill, which dates from around 1800 and was built on top of an earlier horse mill.
Haxted Watermill Museum
Much restored double gabled water-mill with turning overshot water wheel and other machinery. Two other waterwheels and other milling artefacts.
Reigate Heath Windmill
A small black post mill, built in the mid 18 th centrury, and last worked in the 1860s. In the grounds of a gold club. The roundhouse is converted into a chapel, which is used regularly.
A unique stone windmill, built on a circular arcade with six columns. Built in 1632 for Sir Edward Peyto, a local landowner, the mill worked until 1910. It contains wooden machinery.
Tysoe Windmill, Compton Wynyates
A 12 sided stone tower with an aluminium, covered conical cap. There are four common sails and the mill retains most of its machinery.
A 19 th century water-mill with 20 th century machinery, capable of producing 30 tons of flour per week. The granary has a very old ironwork roof. Now used for storage only.
A 5 storey tower mill built in 1821. It worked until the 1920s and has been fully restored. It is the only working windmill in Wessex . The mill has two pairs of millstones, and produces wholemeal flour.