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Mills of Finland

1: Overview
2: A note on Finland from Rex and Auvo
3: Types of Finnish mill
4: A few interesting mills arranged by province
5: TIMS symposium speech on Finnish shingle mills
6: Glossary of Finnish terms in English
7: Rex Wailes' obituary
8: About the author


Rex Wailes’ Finnish Mills collection has been catalogued and digitised as part of the Reading Internship Scheme run by The Mills Archive in collaboration with the University of Reading. It has been completed to expand the Archive’s international collection online, and illustrate how far the collections cover worldwide, following the extensive travels of Rex and others around the provinces of Finland.

Rex Wailes (1901-1986) was a pioneering British engineer who first took an interest in mills while working with K.J. Tarrant, a retired engineer and member of the Newcomen Society for the History of Engineering and Technology. Rex travelled extensively, photographing and writing about hundreds of mills. He took a specific interest in the history of the machinery, rather than focusing solely on the mechanics as other engineers might.

Rex Wailes in Tammela, Häme
Rex Wailes in Tammela, Häme – Photo: The Mills Archive Trust

He acted as a consultant for the repair of windmills from the mid-1920s, and often took men from his father’s engineering firm to help with the work. Rex later joined the Newcomen Society himself, and presented many papers to them over the course of his life.

Following his 1929 article on windmills in the Daily Mail, which received lots of interest, Rex was heavily involved in the creation of a Mills Section within the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. He became its first President in 1978, and his focus now shifted to mills on a more international scale. Just one of the countries that received his attention was Finland, and it is through his extensive travel and tireless documentation that the several volumes of collected photographs, postcards, notes, letters, report cards, paintings, drawings and of course articles, have been accumulated in this collection, now digitised through The Mills Archive’s online catalogue.

The complete Rex Wailes Finland Collection at The Mills Archive
The complete Rex Wailes Finland Collection at the Mills Archive

The whole Rex Wailes collection is available to view here.

In the first phase, each file was ordered and numbered and added to the catalogue. They have been described by type, geographical location, and with any notes contained. Each was then linked to the corresponding website entry, where applicable, and a more detailed account of some of the mills can be found here. This information has been compiled mainly using the Newcomen Society’s Transactions. Next, the photographs were individually scanned and uploaded on the catalogue, all of which can be easily searched using key terms. An example is the province of Häme, as seen below. There have been several blog posts about the project along the way, too, and far more information about the fantastic collection can be found both on these pages as well as under Finnish Mills Material on the Archive catalogue.

The results for searching for 'Häme' in the Images and Documents catalogue
The results for searching for ‘Häme’ in the Images and Documents catalogue