Friday, October 30, 2009

Painting Heckington windmill

click photo to enlarge
I posted a blog piece about Heckington's famous 8-sail windmill about a year ago, and in that entry discussed a little of English windmills in general and the history of this one in particular. What I didn't touch on, however, is the fact that Heckington is one of the mills that are painted black. These are not uncommon in Eastern England. Skidby Windmill, in East Yorkshire, is another black windmill that I blogged about a few years ago. This dark finish is most often applied to brick-built post-mills, though some timber structures are similarly treated. There are those who don't like to see windmills finished in this way, regarding them as sombre looking, and seeing the paint as hiding the warmth of the underlying brick. Such people prefer to see the bricks as they are on Thaxted mill. However, there's no denying that when it is paired with white sails and fantail, as well as white painted wooden detailing (windows, doors, rails, and an ogee cap) the black paint looks very striking. What I don't know is if any windmills were painted in this way immediately after they were built, or whether the bitumen-based covering was always applied at a later date in response to the penetration of damp.

When I passed Heckington windmill the other day I saw a blue "cherry-picker" and a couple of workmen busy repainting the tower. They'd masked the windows with plastic and were applying the sticky liquid with long handled brushes, the old paint looking dull next to that which they were laying on. The substance they were using certainly had the look of bituminuous paint, but I suppose it could have been one of the newer acrylic products. It was an interesting scene, so I took a few shots of them at their work, and post both the best of my selection and a general view above.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 67mm (134mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/800
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On