Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Windmill sack winch

click photo to enlarge
When I first saw the object in this photograph two thoughts crossed my mind. The first was that it reminded me of the old mangle (wringer in US-English) that I remember my mother using when I was very small. For those who are not familiar with such a device, it is the forerunner of the spin dryer and every subsequent machine designed to mechanically remove water from recently washed clothes. The second thought was that no, it's not a mangle, but it could be a dastardly instrument of torture! Anything with a big handle and cogs can bring to mind the medieval rack, and the two holes in the floor reminded me of the holes for wrists in some village stocks and reinforced that line of thought.
However, unless the miller was a rural Sweeney Todd, bulking out his produce with the dessicated remains of his victims, I had to concede that this was unlikely.

Our guide put my mind at rest by revealing that it was nothing more dangerous than a sack winch or hoist. Like all cogs in a mill this has a wheel with metal teeth that meshes with a wheel whose teeth are made of wood. The reason for this is to reduce the risk of fire or explosion caused by sparks igniting the flour dust that would fill the air when the windmill was at work. That also accounts for the leather hinges on the trapdoor in the floor.

I took this photograph during a tour of Dobson's Mill at Burgh le Marsh, Lincolnshire. The very directional light from the nearby window gave the old machine a strong silhouette and good shadows that suggested a photograph. I used the 16:9 aspect ratio of the LX3 in portrait format since it best fitted the subject. A couple of other shots from my visit to the windmill can be seen here.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 5.1mm (24mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f2
Shutter Speed: 1/40
ISO: 80
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On