Saturday, April 21, 2012

Old windmill, new sails

click photo to enlarge
I hadn't anticipated dull and dreary skies when we decided we'd visit Moulton windmill to see its new sails. After all, the forecast was for sunshine and showers. But, as we sat and ate our lunch and heavy drops of rain started to fall I began to fear the worst. Even as we journeyed the few short miles to the mill, the tallest in England, I retained a lingering hope that a patch of clear, or at least interesting sky would coincide with our time there. And it did. Unfortunately it was when we were inside the mill having a guided tour! Consequently the shots of the exterior that I'd hoped for didn't materialise, and the photograph above, taken from the external fourth floor reefing gallery (balcony), is the only one that I took of the new sails that is worth reproducing. However, I did get a photograph of Moulton church from the same balcony, and I include a photograph of the mill's stones that I took on a previous visit.

The original sails of Moulton windmill were removed after they were damaged in a gale in 1894, a severe "blow" that inflicted injury on a number of Lincolnshire mills. In subsequent years the millstones were powered by steam, diesel, then electricity, before milling finally ended in 1995. The charitable trust that acquired the mill set themselves the task of restoring it to the point where it could begin wind-powered milling again as a tourist attraction The most important step on that journey was accomplished on 21st November 2011 when new sails were fitted. The next step will be taken on 29th April 2012 when, wind permitting, the sails will be allowed to turn. Then, on 5th May 2012 (also wind permitting) milling will be undertaken. The resulting bags of flour are to be sold to visitors and local businesses.

Over the years I've looked at a number of windmills, read a few books on the subject, and increased my understanding of these buildings/machines. However, on my recent visit to Moulton I clarified a point that I was unclear about concerning millstones. I've seen many circular millstones that are made of a single piece of stone, and many that are made with a number of interlocking pieces of stone that are held together with iron bands around the rim. Why the difference? Apparently most of the single stones are older, Derbyshire gritstone examples. The pieced millstones are made of French stone that originally came into the country as ballast in ships. The latter could be assembled very quickly whilst the former had to be ordered years in advance and cut out of the outcrops on the Derbyshire moors. Clearly the assembled stones were cheaper, could be ordered nearer to the time they were required, and were as good if not better than the locally sourced stones. Moulton has examples of both kinds.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Photo 1
Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 24mm
 F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/500 sec
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.67 EV
Image Stabilisation: On