Millers, millwrights & enthusiasts
Frank came into contact with many mill people during his travels in search of mills in the British Isles and abroad. These included the last generation of professional corn millers and the millwrights who kept the machinery and structures in good repair.
Volunteer mill restorers like Frank himself took up the mantle from the last generation of millers and millwrights, keeping our mills standing and our traditional crafts alive by passing on the skills they had inherited. Our ancestors designed and built windmills and watermills to make use of the renewable energy available to them, creating efficient and beautiful machines that produced a wholesome product.
Today, organically-grown produce is back in vogue and green sources of energy are actively being sought. Visitors to traditional mills that have been preserved can see for themselves the achievements of the professional millers and millwrights, as well as the work of their successors who kept the mills intact and the skills required to maintain them in existence.
West Kingsdown Mill under repair
A millwright from R. Thompson & Son, millwrights of Alford, Lincolnshire, working away from home at West Kingsdown smock mill, Kent, in 1960. The cap of the mill was rebuilt in situ and a fantail and four new sweeps were built and installed.
Sidney Ashdown, one of the last of the traditional windmillers, dresses one of the Peak runner stones inside the superb post mill at Cross in Hand, East Sussex, in 1962. The mill carried on working until 1969 when one of the sweeps broke off, and is now in a sorry state.
Jesse Wightman, Betty & Joy
Frank’s wife, Betty Gregory, and their daughter Joy at Wickham Market watermill, Suffolk, with Jesse Wightman, c1960. Jesse was one of the last miller-millwrights in East Anglia. In 1957-60 he rebuilt Saxtead Green post mill to a working condition at the request of the Ministry of Works (which later became the Department of the Environment and eventually English Heritage).
Frank at Downfield Mill, Soham
On one of his excursions to Cambridgeshire, Frank pays a visit to Downfield Mill, Soham, which he first photographed in the mid-1950s. Nigel Moon (front right) and David Bent (behind him) restored the mill to working order from a derelict wreck between 1975 and 1980.
Mr Jupp at Outwood post mill c1950
This undated slide probably dates from around 1950 and presumably shows Mr Jupp, the last full-time miller at Outwood post mill, Surrey, leaning agains the tailpole to turn the mill into wind. He has raised the feet of the ladder clear of the ground with the talthur.
Millwrights working inside watermill
Two millwrights at work on the spur gearing at Highbridge Mill, Sussex, c1960. Much of the rim of the wheel has been replaced but the individual mortices for the cogs have not yet been cut.