Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thaxted windmill

click photo to enlarge
There was a time when it seemed that windmills would all but disappear from Britain, perhaps remembered only by a few restored, museum-like examples or those that were turned into desirable country dwellings. A few struggled on as working buildings into the 1950s, but their time had long passed, new methods of milling superseding the old ways. Being tall structures, erected in exposed positions where they would catch the wind, many soon fell into disrepair once regular maintenance ceased. Gales removed sails, fantails and roofs. Penetrating rain and frost did the rest of the damage, and many were reduced to sad, beheaded stumps. But, as is often the way, just as it seemed that windmills were on their way out people started to realise what was happening, to mourn what was being lost, and in localities up and down the country individuals, groups of civic-minded people and enthusiasts turned their attention to restoring these fascinating relics that are half building, half machine. Today they are a reasonably common sight in central, eastern and southern England, and quite a few have been restored to working condition.

The example shown in today's photograph is at Thaxted in Essex. It is a red brick, tower mill that was built for John Webb in 1804. He was a local landowner and innkeeper whose brickworks supplied the bricks for the building. It stands in a commanding position in a field by the edge of the small town, one of two beacons, with the medieval church, that are immediately visible to the visitor as he approaches this ancient and attractive settlement. Thaxted's mill was one of those that fell into disrepair in the mid-twentieth century. But, in 1972 the process of restoration began, and today it is fully restored with machinery inside, and is open to the public.

My photograph has been converted to black and white with the digital version of a red filter to darken the sky, emphasise the clouds and vapour trails, and make the lighter building stand out more strongly from its background.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 25mm (50mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/1000
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On