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Technical descriptions of English windmills



The following entries are taken from Essex Windmills, Millers And Millwrights by Kenneth G Farries (5 volumes, Charles Skilton 1981-8)


Post mills, all still standing


Ashdon: TL595426

Aythorpe Roding: TL590152

Ramsey: TM209305

(Farries Ch.11 (Ch.2 of Vol II) gives a breakdown of the major structural components of each mill, with dimensions)

Ashdon, Aythorpe Roding and Ramsey mills, built in 1757, ?1779 and 1842 respectively, represent three distinct phases in post-mill development, and have retained enough of their original character to make a comparative study possible. Of particular interest too are the modifications which they underwent. The three mills differ significantly.

 Each was modified with regard to number or disposition of stones, Ashdon adding a second pair in the tail, Aythorpe Roding converting from head and tail to two pairs in the head, and Ramsey adding tail stones to the original two in the head. The first two mills had roundhouses added and substructures partly replaced; Ramsey, a Suffolk-built mill and incorporating features corresponding to the highest summit of development attained by post mills, had from the start a three-floored roundhouse in which piers and walls were bonded and blended into a continuous flow of convex and concave surfaces, the whole adorned in whitewash. Since the body and sails were well elevated, Ramsey roundhouse was given a single entry door with a single loading door above it, both accessible to horse and cart whatever the position of the tail ladder. The base of the mill post is 14ft above ground level, whereas at Ashdon the figure is only 17in. At the older mill the low crosstrees prevented freedom of movement in the roundhouse, which served mainly as a weather protection, and two doors were used to allow the miller to dodge the low sweep of the sails. But Ramsey roundhouse had its hazards in the eight sack traps, one in each quarter of two floors.

 At Ashdon the piers had formerly been tarred and the oak substructure whitened. The crosstrees, an odd pair, pass through the post with a clear gap of 1 ¼ in between, disregarding cuts for abutment, and while the upper member is of uniform section, 13in deep at centre by 12in wide, the lower is thickened upwards from 11 ½ in to 13 ½ in towards the centre. The upper crosstree, probably exposed to the weather for a long period before the addition of the roundhouse, has been strapped on the sides at one end with timber plates to strengthen the failing joint with the quarterbar.

 The brick piers at Aythorpe Roding were built with stepped inner and outer ends, and when the roundhouse was added, rough brick filling was inserted in the gaps behind the piers. The resulting enclosure was capacious enough to take a pair of stones for external belt drive. Here the crosstrees, under which the average miller could pass by ducking his head, also form an odd pair. Both 24ft long (Ashdon about 22ft), the upper measuring 10in sq, the lower 13in deep by 12in. At Ashdon, as mentioned above, the upper crosstree appears to have been a replacement, to introduce which the mill would have needed raising prior to the removal of the lower crosstree, a tedious operation. At Aythorpe Roding what may be construed as an alternative and labour-saving expedient for achieving the same result may be seen in the mill today (1978). It capitalizes on the fact that a crosstree is basically a tie piece, and that there is no weight to carry at centre. Two oak timbers 10 ½ in sq were scarfed together over a 5ft length directly under the post, the halves being united from either side. The plane on the scarf runs in the vertical sense, and there are 1in square-cut butts at either end. A strong iron plate, about 6ft 6in long by 6in by ¾in was bolted up on the underside. An oak member 8ft 3in by 9in X 4 ¾in was applied to one side of the spliced crosstree as a further strengthening measure, but as the horns of the post obstructed it two spacer-blocks 9in by 4in by 10in were applied each side of the post, and the whole bolted together, using two sets of “follow-round” bolts and nuts on 4ft centres, one either side of the post. One must note however that the lower crosstree was also a replacement, though probably subsequent to the above-described substitution. The lower timber has the chiselled inscriptions “CT 1869 WW TAF” cut upside down in one end face in a position that the roundhouse wall, if present, would not have allowed. The quarterbars footed in this crosstree are painted, and doubtless originals; the crosstree is not, and its date is probably also that of the roundhouse.

 At Ramsey the substructure, being weatherproofed from the start, is in good shape today, and follows general practice, calling therefore for little comment. The crosstrees abut directly against the post, as at Mill Green, Ingatestone, and Ashdon, whereas wedges were used at Aythorpe Roding.

 With regard to body framing, Aythorpe Roding was built larger than most Essex post mills, while Ramsey’s buck is, surprisingly, smaller than Ashdon’s reckoned with the later extension. Two noteworthy indicators of changing millwrighting practice in the period under review were the use – or otherwise – of thickened-out heavy duty timbers, and the extent of pine substitution for oak. At Ashdon the thickened centre of the lower crosstree has been mentioned; the crowntree, of elm, was extended downwards over a 3ft 4in length at centre by an additional 3in, bringing the depth to 23in, and anticipating the later familiar cast-iron plates with which the undersides of crowntrees were often shod. The extra thickness ends in shapely moulding. The main corner posts in the mill are, however, no more than 7in square from top to bottom, and, though cut correctly for the side girt abutments, are notched wrongly for the stone floor transverse beams fore and aft, the notches on which they should rest full width being at the top point of entry for each of the four junctions. Thus these beams, situated opposite the crowntree, across to which the stone bearers were set, would tend in the fullness of time to creep down and sheer off their tenons, as plainly seen in 1970. Nevertheless the reversal did not prove fatal during the working life of the mill, and this was probably thanks to the use of posts footed on the spout floor in preference to hangers for bridgetree support, as clarified below. Like the crowntree at Ashdon the sheers were thickened on their undersides; in their cases for approximately 5ft at centre where they pass over the collar, but despite this they had by 1970 taken heavy punishment. These increased sections were also attractively moulded at the ends and one recalls the comparable features at Little Saling mill, built in 1756. Aythorpe Roding mill possesses jowled or grossly thickened corner posts and sheers so finished also, but at Ramsey the trait is entirely lacking.

 Broadly speaking, the predominant use of oak in windmills up to the early nineteenth century slowly diminished thereafter in favour of pine, which became readily obtainable from the ports as good home-grown oak of heavy section became scarce and expensive. At both the older mills under discussion pine was little used, and Aythorpe Roding in fact finished its active life with an oak middling. At Ramsey however the following larger members were in pine, and are listed here specifically as having oak counterparts at Ashdon: sheers, two rear corner posts, top and bottom side rails, intermediate verticals in the side framing forming window posts, forward spindle beam, tail beam, stone bearers, brake lever. The policy at Ramsey appears to have been to reserve oak for positions where strength and resistance to rot were most needed. Thus the substructure, crowntree, side girts, front corner posts and prick post were made in oak. Many of the minor timbers were in pine, and it is to be assumed were part of the original construction, since no observed features suggest otherwise.

 When Ashdon mill was first built the spout floor would have measured 16ft 6in by 11ft, the centre post being roughly equidistant from the four corner posts. The sheers appear to be original, and so would have formed the basis of the rear platform, probably with porch above. Evidence for the extension of the body is still clearly seen in the preserved mill. The former rear sill at spout floor level between the main corner posts has mortices on 3ft 3in centres for the former door posts, together with studding mortices. These are repeated in the underside of the 8½ in sq transverse beam above, on which the rear stone bearers rest, and these mortices correspond exactly with the present rear frame across the false or added corner posts (6 X 4½ in), which – significantly perhaps – are in pine. Before extension, the top side rails, 8in sq, projected a few inches to the rear and had moulded ends. These are now enclosed and bear vestiges of white paint. For the extension, new pieces were laid over the rails and carried out nearly 4ft to the rear. The completed extension housed a bolter at stone-floor level, taking up a space limited to 2ft 6in forward of the rear weatherboarding.

 At Aythorpe Roding the millwright worked, by and large, to very liberal standards. A massive collar was place under the heavy sheers, and the side girts maintained a section 9in wide by 20in deep (Ashdon 6 X 17, Ramsey 9 X 14), but these girts were designed for heavier duty than in the other two mills, for it seems that the rear extension was part of the initial design. All the evidence cited as proof of Ashdon’s enlargement is lacking at Aythorpe Roding; moreover the false corner posts carry the same inwards-facing cyclopean gunstock heads with which the four main corner posts are furnished. Five are in oak, one in elm; the main rear pair are 9in sq and broaden to 9 X 14in at top, while the false rear corner posts are of similar general section and broaden to no less than 15in under the rear top rail. The gunstock head of the forward left corner post had almost split off, as seen in 1961, and at some date, perhaps late in the history of the mill, a horizontal timber 9in deep by 7in on 3ft centres below the weatherbeam had been set into the corner posts in plain square housings to carry two props to the weatherbeam above. The millwright ran out of heavy timber, perhaps, or feared for the profitability of the job, for the prick post is underweight at 6½ in by 6in, and the meal beam running intermediately across the forward frame is most inadequate, and is further discussed below in connection with the stones. By 1975, weighed down by two pairs of stones in the breast, the mill prow was breaking up.

 In design of framing at front, side and rear the three mills show only minor differences. Ashdon resembles Mill Green in its side framing, except that the intermediate uprights halt at the side girts, and carry the horizontal spacer between them 2ft 6in above the feet of the two main diagonals. The forward frame differs from Mill Green in that the prick post is in two separate parts above and below the meal beam, as seen in some Suffolk mills. The rear (extension) frame is strongly constructed, having two uprights 8in X 6in fore-aft on about 5½ ft centres to take the rear ladder strings on the lower panel, and two pairs of diagonals to a central upright (upper pair not replaced in repairs) in the middle and upper panels.

 At Aythorpe Roding the panels below the side girts are framed as at Mill Green, but again, as at Ashdon, the intermediate posts do not extend up to the top side rails. There are short diagonals in the forward side of the framing above the side girts, and the front frame follows the usual pattern with prick post supported by two pairs of diagonals. Ramsey has two 5in sq uprights between side girt and top side rail which do not carry through from below, and has a well triangulated construction, in which the members were evidently assembled piece by piece on the mill as work proceeded. The total of eight intermediate verticals, serving as window posts, in pairs above and below the side girts, have half-dovetails for insertion from the side into the members tied by them. The diagonals in the side framing were notched into the side girts without the employment of tenons, and could have been slipped in after the basic frame was in position; they descend to the window posts, which, however, are bridged across by short horizontal pieces tenoned into them, and must therefore have been assembled in pairs. At Ramsey the side girts run through the overall length from front to rear. The joists holding girt to crowntree and corner posts deserve comment. The side girt 9in X 14in is accommodated on the crowntree in the manner commonly used in Suffolk. The girt is cut on its soffit full width to a depth of 3in and is seated on the crowntree on a rebate 8in deep in that member, receiving at the same time a horizontal tenon 3in long by 2in deep, and corresponding to the width of the crowntree, constituting in fact a bare-faced tenon. The upper surface of the side girt stands only 3in over the crowntree. The crowntree ends were considerably weakened by the cutting away of 8in to leave a residual 14in below for side-girt support. To obviate trouble with splitting, the crowntree ends close to the joint were reinforced, apparently at the outset, by iron plates recessed into the timber above and below and brought tight by three bolts passing through. It appears that to prevent the girts spreading outwards, much reliance was placed on the various tie beams across the mill body. At their forward ends, the side girts, being 1½ in wider than the corner posts, are continued to that thickness on the inner faces of the posts for an inch or so, giving as it were a thumb-grip to the junction. The tenons entering the corner posts are 3in long by 1½ in thick, and appear to project from the whole depth of the girt.

 Post mill roofs, as now seen in any mill, rarely contain more than a fraction of the original timbers; Ashdon, formerly having lath and plaster between the roof spars, is a hotch-potch of old and new. The roof at Aythorpe Roding has been completely renewed, as seen in 1961, and at Ramsey the striking symmetry which prevails between the two sides of the mill is well exemplified in the roof structure. There is a ridge piece only 1in thick by 5in vertically, but no purlin. There are 13 roof spars, including the outside members, and many are doubled in the lower part by spiked-on timbers. Noggin pieces are tenoned into certain of the spars at staggered heights following the same pattern either side, and were probably introduced when the roof was rebuilt. Sound full-length spars were retained and spaced out and interconnected, the shorter, salvaged pieces being then added above and below the noggins.

 The mode of winding of mills further reflects increasing sophistication through the years from Ashdon to Ramsey. Ashdon mill depended on the man-handled tailpole until the last. At Aythorpe Roding the tailpole was superseded by a fantail mounted on the rear ladder, below which the truck wheels ran on a stone ring at ground level 11ft on centre from the roundhouse wall (18ft at Ramsey). The fan drive passed down through two pairs of bevels, and was divided through more bevels to operate the worms and worm wheels associated with each truck wheel. Provision for hand-cranking was made. To turn the mill through 360 degrees, very approximately some 2000 revolutions of the fan were needed, one rotation producing a displacement of about one inch along the winding circle, which has a radius of exactly 25 feet.

 Ramsey mill had the most noteworthy winding device of the three under review. Whether the mill was formerly tailpole winded is not known, but a tailpole does in fact extend as far as the ladder, providing a useful brace. Most exceptionally, a six-bladed fantail was mounted over the rear of the mill roof and drove through gears and shafting outside the right rear of the mill body to a large worm wheel set up over the quarterbars at the approximate position of the absent collar. The fan shaft was carried on two spars inclined inwards and in a vertical plane, footed on timbers attached at or near the corner posts. The vibration of the fan may explain the use of long, flat iron ties which hold some of the cap spars together under the roof, including the rear five on the right side. In 1968 remnants of the fan drive could be seen. The vertical shaft comes down to a small bevel on its lower end below spout floor level, meshing with a four-armed bevel of about 20in diameter set on the rear end of the worm shaft. 3ft or so over these worm drive bevels is set a bevel for hand cranking from inside the mill. The iron worm on the 2in sq shaft taking the drive in under the mill body is about 7-8 in in diameter, has four turns, and is mounted under two 10in wide by 8in deep oak pieces on 4ft 8in centres set from side to side between the sheer and bottom side rail on the right hand side of the mill. This fitting is equally fore and aft of the post. The worm ring with which the worm engages is positioned over the quarterbars thus: there are 4 cants below the quarterbars 4in thick by 11½ in widest extent at centres and these are iron-strapped over the quarterbars. Bolted over them is another 4in deep wood-planked ring; on the outside of this upper ring is fixed an iron worm ring, cast in two halves bolted together and equipped with 94 teeth on a skew, cast integrally. The teeth are of 3in face and 2in pitch. The two wooden segment rings are of elm, arranged to break joint, and are cut away to accommodate themselves to the quarterbars, not vice versa. Authoritative comment by former millers on the effectiveness of this most unusual winding system has not been passed on, and we must draw our own conclusions from the fact that the mill worked by wind until the Second World War. Neither is it known whether the gear was fitted at the time of construction at Ramsey. Since the worm gear is halved and bolted it could have been added at any time, along with the rest of the drive.

 The machinery of these mills, together with its past and present arrangement, tells an eloquent story of attempts to keep in step with the march of progress. At Ashdon either an iron poll end was eventually fitted to the wooden windshaft, which was also drilled to take a striking rod, or a new wooden shaft with iron poll end was introduced. Both head and tail wheels were originally of compass-arm design, and changed to clasp arm. A check on the existing windshaft for blocked-in compass-arm mortices was not made. A minor but attractive survival in Ashdon mill is the wooden brake catch shaped from a 22in X 7in block, whose broken-off wooden hook was refixed by bolt and nut.

 Aythorpe Roding mill apparently also started life with a wooden windshaft, and the very large brake wheel, of elm, was built up with six cants, each with a compass arm centrally placed over its straight inner edge. The cants were not edge-tenoned into one another in the old style but simply butted; over them was laid the ring of felloes 8½ in by 4½ in deep, and the whole bolted together through pairs of iron butt straps to secure the inner junctions of each pair of cants. On the introduction of an iron windshaft, to which further reference is made at the end of this chapter, the compass arms were removed and a six-armed spider fitted. This was cast in two halves and bolted together to leave a central square of 8½ in side for keying to the windshaft. A former tail wheel has disappeared.

 Ramsey would have been equipped with its iron windshaft and clasp-arm brake wheel from the start. To the ring of some 90 cogs of 4in face and 3in pitch on the brakewheel was added a second, inner ring with 3in face and 2½ in pitch to drive a skew gear, now gone, for machine drive. Remnants of an agitating device, probably for a jogscry, remained in 1975, also driven from the brakewheel. Triangular wood pieces were added at the four right-angled cant junctions to give a backing at those points to the new cog ring, as at Eye post mill, Suffolk, and the cog shanks were held by iron spikes driven through the added felloes at a slight angle from the radius.

 Apart from alterations to the original machinery considered above, the mills all carry evidence of increase in output capacity. At Ashdon the rear stones were clearly an added pair, probably dating from the time of the rear extension. The forward stone bearers 10in wide by 6in deep, on 2ft 8in centres, were applied fore and aft on fillets spiked and bolted to the meal beam and crowntree respectively. They consist of rough timber with much softwood. The rear stone bearers, 6½ in wide by 6in deep on 2ft 3in centres, are tenoned into the rear face of the crowntree at their forward ends and rest at their rear on an oak timber applied to the rear transverse beam between the main corner posts. These bearers, together with cross pieces and one or two joists, can be seen to be later work, clearly finished and nicely chamfered. The bridgetrees and brays associated with the two pairs of stones are completely different. At front the bridgetree, 9in wide and 8in deep at approximately 6ft in length, had originally wedge adjustment for centring the stone spindle, later effected by a 4-screw bridging box. The wooden bray, 6½ feet by 8½ in deep by 5in, running across the prow, has steelyard control and governor (now gone) on the right. An unusual feature is the use of vertical posts standing on the spout floor to carry the bridge tree and bray in place of wooden hangers. The forward post, 9in by 7in, is halved and bolted to the sill and meal beam and has given much needed strength in recent years of near collapse. Lack of confidence in the meal beam described above may account for its employment.

 The tail bridgetree at Ashdon, running from left to right with respect to the mill body, is of the modern pattern, but exceptional, nevertheless, in consisting of an iron casting with a large Y-fork at the dead end, where screw adjustment for height was provided for each arm. The iron bray, running fore-aft, is screw-adjusted for height at its forward end, where it is governor controlled, in a cast-iron box identical with those used for the bridgetree forks. The iron bridgetree is doubled below by a wooden member, seemingly redundant, and the pivoted end of this composite bridgetree is, like its opposite number at the front, carried in a vertical post, in this case standing obstructively in the space behind the centre post and running up from right sheer to right stone bearer. The governor for the rear stones, also vanished, was on the left of the spout floor.

 On the stone floor above a separate spindle beam was fitted for the quant bearing of the rear stone spindle in preference to a stand-off bearing from the tailbeam. This spindle beam is tenoned into and wedged against the side cheeks bolted to the mill frame for support of the tail beam, and in the course of time has suffered massive erosion in response to further changes. A very large housing for the glut box of later years left only 1½ in out of a 7in beam width intact, and as if this were not enough two clearance cuts were made on the forward face for the iron segment teeth of the tail wheel – these cuts are angled to the teeth circle and are 2in deep by 12in wide. There appears a superfluity of heavy-section transverse members in this area of the mill: rear rail over the main corner posts 10in sq, tail beam 11in by 12in, and spindle beam 7½ in sq in close, stepped formation, which would not have eased the miller’s access to the bolter and rear stones.

 Aythorpe Roding mill also has a history with regard to deployment of stones. It was clearly built with the operation of two pairs in mind, and placed head and tail. Apparently starting life with a wooden windshaft, it was later fitted with the existing iron shaft with squares for head and tail wheels. No tail wheel or rear stones remain, and the forward spindle beam has housings for the quants of former overdriven stones, now empty, as an iron-bound wooden wallower takes the drive for the spur wheel below, the two pairs of stones in the breast being latterly underdriven. To accommodate the stones, of about 4ft 4in diameter on 5ft 9in centres, it was necessary to cut into the side girts, leaving 7in intact, to allow room for the outsides of the stones, and the arcuate walls, 27in long, so formed, acted as part of the stone vats. One could hardly suppose this to have been the original plan. There is no evidence of an attempt to compensate for the change of balance resulting from the transfer of a pair of stones from tail to head, and in fact the head sickness of the mill is illustrated by the fact that the bedstones were wedged up at the front but let down into cuts in the bearers at rear to bring them level.

 The gearing is of comparatively late date, the upright shaft being of iron, and the great spur wheel and stone nuts being iron mortice wheels. Vincent Pargeter, in his capacity as Essex County Millwright, spent many months in 1975-6 on repair work at the mill, and considers that the conversion to two pairs of stones in the breast occurred when the mill was already in bad condition, the prick post having sagged below the weatherbeam. The wooden wallower was brought from elsewhere, its old cogs having been removed to make way for another set of coarser pitch to match the brake wheel. The great spur wheel, also probably found “going begging” from another mill, was uncomfortably large for the breast of Aythorpe Roding mill, as a result of which the stone nuts and stones were set diagonally forwards. This aggravated the head sickness. At Mountnessing a similar problem of accommodation was solved by bringing the stone spindles into line a little behind the upright shaft, so throwing the weight somewhat to the rear with a less crippling effect.

 At Aythorpe Roding the nuts were disengaged by being lifted off a circular taper by means of rings and twin rods with screw control below. At Ashdon the stone nuts are missing, hence the gear ratios are not obtainable; at Aythorpe Roding they are: brake wheel 78 cogs, wallower 20, great spur 63, nuts 30 each, giving a 1:8:2 ratio for sails to stones. At Ramsey the approximate ratios are 1:9:7 for the head stones and 1:9:9 for the tail stones.

 The regulation of the stones at Aythorpe Roding adhered to the older system using wooden bridgetrees and brays, but was designed to accommodate in space. The bridgetrees are an odd pair, of section 9in square on the left and 11in by 14in on the right, the latter perhaps moved from the original bridgetree position in the head. The wedge-adjusted bridgetree for the upright shaft gives less than 5ft headroom, and is held at rear by a hanger from the crowntree, and in the prow by a multi-purpose block faced on the rear of the prick post. The block also carries mortised chocks to take the pivoted ends of the brays (10in deep by 3in thick), which are set across the front of the mill and just clear of the corner posts at their outer, controlled ends. Here again we find extensive cuts on vital framing members, where the handles for adjusting the tenter screws fouled the corner posts. The handle on the left side spanned 11in and the post was hollowed to a depth of 4in out of 9in on the inner face to give freedom of rotation. The steelyards run back parallel to the bridgetrees to pass under – with knife-edge contact – short notched arms pivoted on the side framing and forked at the inner ends over the governor. The governors are situated on bridge pieces between the bridgetrees and side framing, and the governors were belt-driven from the stone spindles. The front framing was not suitably designed to carry two pairs of stones. The four stone bearers rest at front on a timber of irregular section, about 7in square, which is supported on chocks spiked and screwed to the corner posts, and rests very precariously at centre on pieces standing on the forward end of the central bridgetree or sprattle beam, which itself is held in the complex block attached to the prick post of slight section, 6½ in by 6in. In 1975 the millwright took steps to prevent collapse of the mill prow. About 14in on centres below the makeshift meal beam is a transverse 7in sq member in two pieces tenoned into the corner and prick posts, and evidently original. It would appear to have been set too low, and to have been too slightly made to have served as a support to the stones at any time, and one is led to enquire after the identity of the bodybuilder who bestowed bulging shoulder muscles on this mill over such a fragile ribcage.

 Provision was made from the first for the two pairs of overdriven head stones at Ramsey, and apart from the wooden brake wheel the gearing is of iron: all-iron castings for the front and rear great spurs, rear wallower, and the various shafts, and iron mortice wheels for the tail of the windshaft, front wallower and all three stone nuts. Disengagement was by glut box in all cases, and there is no rear spindle beam. The 11in sq tailbeam rests on applied members in pine 9in by 4in bolted into the rear intermediate uprights and tenoned into the corner posts. On its forward side the tailbeam carried an iron bracket with a removable oak chock to hold the spindle.

 The forward bridgetrees are of iron, running transversely in line across the mill, and the wooden brays are at right angles fore and aft close to the side framing, with pivoted ends at the front corner posts and controlled ends at the rear. The two governors are also symmetrically placed, being on the stone spindles. The central bridge or sprattle beam giving 6ft 9in headroom is twin-tenoned into a hanger 12 in by 4½ in thick fixed on the forward side of the crosstree, and is carried at the front by a twin-morticed timber 12in wide by 3in faced on the rear of the prick post. The prick post is formed out of 9in wide by 8in deep oak – contrast Aythorpe Roding 6½ in by 6in. The sprattle is 20in on centres below the crowntree.

 The fore-aft stone bearers are of pine, both pairs similarly arranged on 30in centres, all 9in deep, and comprising an outer member 7in wide and an inner 10in wide. They carry secondary pairs of pine pieces transversely on about 27in centres to form squares for the bedstones to rest on. The inner, main bearers were made of stouter section than the outer, probably because they had an extra duty to perform. Vertical timbers (8½ in X 3½ in) are bolted to the inside faces of the inner stone bearers and the outside of the central bridgetree, somewhat below, and these verticals carried the inner, pivoted ends of the iron bridgetrees in suitable mortices. The outer ends of the bridgetrees rest on the wooden brays, of elm, provided with an iron wear plate at the point of contact.

 The iron bridgetrees are of open “skeleton” form, with three ribs joined together at the ends, and also meeting centrally at the integral bridging box, the whole cast as one strong, compact and light unit. The small, neat twin lead-balled governors mounted on the stone spindles have brass or gun metal bushes for the fork ends, whose arms extend rearwards about 2ft and are there pivoted on the forward side of the crowntree. In each case a second 3ft long steelyard extends transversely, from the rear of the bray beyond the steelyard’s point of suspension close by it, to a position under the first (directly governor-controlled) arm, the point of intersection being subject to screw control. Up and down movements of the first arm are therefore conveyed to the second, the two making a composite steelyard, and produce oppositely-directed movements in the bray and bridgetree to achieve the desired reduction ratio.

 The brays, over 4ft long by 9in deep by 3in thick, are carried by single tenons at the rear in vertical timbers 5½ in wide by 3in deep faced onto the forward members of the pairs of intermediate uprights in the mill sides, and at front by single tenons working in shallow mortises in the corner posts. Initial control of the forward end of each bray was by means of a vertical screw jack some 3ft long centred 3-4 in to the rear of the corner posts, and firmly footed. If we measure in inches the segments into which each linkage from governor to stone spindle is divided by its respective fulcrum or intermediate point of communication of the movement – as the case may be – taking the right hand system as checked in 1975, we have: first steelyard, governor to pivot at crowntree: 21:6½; second steelyard, point of contact with first steelyard to bray: 22:2½; bray: 17:29; bridgetree: 25:21½. A rise of 1in in the governor would, from these figures, lower the runner stone by 0.0052in, an approximate ratio of 192:1, which compares very closely with an estimate made at Moreton mill.

 The arrangements at Ramsey for the underdriven 3ft 4in diameter rear stones follow a more compact design, having dispensed with a bray control. The rear stones are enclosed in a sheet-iron round casing with some zinc, as opposed to the octagonal vats of the forward pairs; curiously enough the upright shafts, of iron, are also respectively round and octagonal in section for rear and front stones, as if made to match. The main basis for the bedstone supports is a pine beam 10in wide by 11in deep let into the side girts 5ft 7in on centres behind the crowntree. Close investigation during restoration work in 1975 revealed the possibility that the addition of the rear stones may not have been long delayed after the mill’s erection. The rear stone flooring was originally laid over 7in by 4in joists running from the crowntree to the transverse 10in by 11in member. In preparation for the added stones, one central joist was replaced by an 8in by 6½ in stone bearer, and a second heavy timber was fixed between it and the left side of the mill, displacing more joist sections whose vacated housings were plugged with wood. However it was noted that timbers coach-screwed to the left window posts, and in various ways associated with the forward and rear stones, show a strong similarity, although clearly not fitted at the same time, and they were probably the work of the same millwright. On their separation from the window posts, both were found to be devoid of any paint or whitewash with which the other timbers had been coated.

 For the rest, a four-ribbed fixed iron bridgetree spans the width of the mill 4ft 8in on centres behind the crowntree and 2ft 9in on centres below the stone support beam, measured vertically, and this carries the upright shaft, stone and governor spindles in that order from centre to left. This bridge rests on pine members 10½ in deep by 2¼ in wide mortised into the rear corner posts and applied to the rear window posts as indicated. The pine members also rest on chocks spiked to the diagonals in the framing, while the bridgetree has the additional support of iron stays to the side girts, paired on either side, making four in all. The main bridgetree is a fixture, once set up, under which a secondary bridgetree is pivoted on the left end and able to rise to the horizontal between the inner two ribs of the fixed bridgetree above. The pivoted end is adjustable for height by a screw jack with spanner similar to those used for the forward brays, and likewise securely footed on suitable timbers. This moveable bridgetree has the same action on the footstep bearing of the stone spindle as those at Stock mill. The steelyard from the governor passes above and along the fixed bridge, and is “cranked” round the stone spindle to its fulcrum and beyond to a position between the bridging boxes for the stone spindle and upright shaft. Thus the whole arrangement was aligned across the mill, giving 6ft 3in headroom almost throughout its length.

 Most later-surviving post mills were extensively braced and dogged with irons. The fitting of iron tie rods from crowntree to sheers on either side of the post would relieve pressure on the collar, but often at the expense of some permanent inconvenience to the miller. The rods were put through from below and fastened with washers and nuts on top of the crowntree. There was understandable reluctance to open large cavities in these vital timbers. In mills with a collar, the sheers must retain at centre a smooth under-face; hence the bolt head would be sunk in. The collar would be removed in readiness for the operation, if already in position, the rod being introduced from within the angle of two quarterbars and the collar afterwards replaced. At Ashdon, unusually, there is a circular iron rod 1¼ in in diameter passing up from the rear “live” collar member between the sheers to a bracket on the rear of the crowntree, wher the rod is held by a large square nut. In this mill square rods pass down through each side girt to the bottom side rails. At Aythorpe Roding two 1in iron tie rods run from sheers to crowntree on either side of the post through a flanged iron casting under the crowntree made by Christy and Norris of Chelmsford. This is cast in two halves and bolted together, as is also a two-piece casting over the top of the post. The plate for the crowntree is screwed to a 5½ ft long by 4in deep oak packing applied to that timber. These castings were evidently designed to preserve the full size of the timbers, and were probably necessitated by the deterioration of the post top. The threaded ends of the tie rods on 34in centres project no less than 4½ in above the crowntree, where they are packed up with an assortment of washers and held with large nuts. There were further tie rods running down from the crowntree ends. Ramsey was also tied on either side of the post, and provided with 4in sq iron plates let 1in down into the crowntree, then washers, then octagonal nuts rising 2in proud to trip the unwary miller. Here the 16-sided post and the crowntree survived without ironwork, while at Ashdon a single iron band at the top of the post sufficed. The rods at Ramsey were doubtless part of the 1842 construction, and fitted before the worm ring was set up.

 The sack hoists at Ramsey and Ashdon were in the Suffolk style, while Aythorpe Roding used a less involved Essex example. The Ashdon gear was not, however, the original. At Aythorpe Roding the driving pulley was a built-up wooden clasp-arm construction of 4ft effective diameter on the windshaft behind the working face of the brake wheel. A second pulley of 22in diameter on an octagonal bollard above was driven by slack belt. The bollard is iron-straked to the rear to carry the chain for the traps situated behind the crowntree, left of centre. The forward end of the bollard, mounted on a pivoted wood piece, was raised for drive by a chain from a small drum on the right side of the mill roof, the drum being turned by rope from the sack traps by a further pulley system.

 At Ramsey the drive was by slack belt from a flanged built-up wooden ring forward of the brake wheel to a pulley on the bollard above, from the rear of which a chain descended over a guide pulley down the sack traps situated as at Aythorpe Roding. The driven wood pulley above the brake wheel in front was raised up to take the belt drive by a rope which unwound itself from a wood pulley on the left side of the roof and thereby wound up on the forward end of the same shaft a chain which raised the wooden carriage piece holding the front bearing of the main bollard.

 At Ashdon the arrangement was very similar, but introduced a further intermediate control, the sequence running: (1) initial rope control on first drum, turning (2) chain drum on same shaft, winding up (4) chain at forward end of second shaft, raising (5) pivoted arm carrying front end of sack bollard, resulting in (6) tightening of slack belt to pulley on windshaft, allowing (7) chain at rear end of bollard to raise sacks, the chain passing over (8) a small iron-straked drum above the sack traps. All this gear was carried by the roof spars, thickened or doubled as necessary, or bridged under the mill roof.

 While Ramsey and Ashdon mills had windshafts corresponding to their age and design which call for no special comment, the replacement iron shaft at Aythorpe Roding was a misfit, being too long, with the result that the tail beam was set over the thickened (inner) corner posts, and could not therefore be conveniently dropped. Its relatively low tilt, combined with the weakness of the front frame of the mill body, put the roundhouse roof at risk from the revolving sail tips. The sails were brought clear only by the fitting of long tapered wedges between the whips and middlings, doubled where necessary to achieve the desired result.

ARDLEIGH John de Bois Mill

Post mill, gone


Had four patent sails, of which the surviving pair ran anti-clockwise and had single shutters.

ASHDON, Radwinter Road tower mill



There was a domed cap and gallery and a strongly battered tower. The fan staging appears to have been part of the cap design and not an afterthought.


Post mill, gone


It was of unexceptional appearance, with a single-storey roundhouse and tailpole winding. There were one pair of commons and one pair of single-shuttered patents, each with the heel very close to the canister. A sag on the commons denoted a broken middling. “Saddle trees” – a term used by Jesse Wightman – are visible on the roof ridge for suspension of a rope cradle, when needed, for repairs and painting. The mill body, which carried a rear porch, was evidently tarred and the roundhouse was painted white.

GREAT BADDOW, Galleywood Common smock mill



There were four single-shuttered anti-clockwise spring sails mounted in an all-wooden windshaft, and the fan staging and gearing without doubt were part of the original conception. Photographs of the mill in working order show a general resemblance to Upminster, South Ockendon and Cripplegate (Southminster) mills, underlined by the style of the {boat-shaped} cap. There is no known record of the interior save the locally elicited fact (1980) that the three pairs of stones were underdriven.


Smock mill, gone


The mill had single-shuttered anti-clockwise sails, doubtless of spring type, in an all-wooden windshaft, winded by fantail. The cap appears to have been boat-shaped.


Tower mill, standing today converted to house


The origin of the name Gibraltar for this mill-fortress, built of red brick walls some 4ft thick at ground level, has aroused much speculation without final resolution. Many writers of articles have quoted dates and theories, but these all appear to stem from the contribution by Alfred Hills to the Essex Review in 1930, which stated that the owner, T S Smith JP, had deeds showing that in 1749 the building was known by the name of Gibraltar and used as a cottage, but that it had been converted into a windmill in 1751. Hills described the tower, now masked from close study by a cement rendering, as here quoted: “Up to a height of some twenty feet the walls are of early flat bricks. The upper portion is of a later, wider brick, the whole being four feet thick. At some time a large part of the wall on the ground floor has been cut away (apparently to form a fireplace for the cottage beforementioned) and filled up again at the time of the conversion into a mill. The lower part of the tower is octagonal but the corners have been roughly hacked off, apparently to give room for the sails, or to allow a freer flow of the wind. The lower part has also been plastered inside and out, possibly at the time when it became a cottage. I would suggest that this lower portion was the base of a smock mill, built about 1680, and one of the first smock mills to be built in this country. It may be that some defect showed itself after a few years/ working, some inherent weakness of the timber frame….And so perhaps her wooden top was taken off, and she was debased into a dwelling.”

 Hills’ authority for the c1680 as the date of building is not stated. An examination of documents in the possession of Aubrey Wilson, the incoming owner (1972), and of deeds in the Essex Record Office, taken in conjunction with site, map and historical evidence, tempts one to draw the speculative net a little tighter. The investigation does not disprove Hills’ theories, but explores other possibilities. There is no doubt that the sequence windmill-cottage-windmill occurred in the C18. Whether or not the site carried a post mill at an earlier date is not known. Ogilby and Morgan (1678) do not mark a mill here, and the pronounced mound may have been raised for the existing mill. Documents dated 1650, 1658 and 1683 refer to estates including the watermill on the Pant to the north, with which the windmill was later associated, but make no mention of a windmill. However in a conveyance of the manor of Bardfield in 1707 the recital of estates lists “also the watermill and the brick windmill with the appurtenances situate and being in Great Bardfield.” The year 1704 was a historic one for the British in Gibraltar, for it was then that they and the Dutch took possession after a very short siege, and successfully resisted a counter-siege by the Spanish and French in the following year. The jubilation at this victory may broadly have coincided with the completion of the Bardfield mill, which by its novel and massive form would not inappropriately have begged the title “Gibraltar” to commemorate the occasion. One recalls the naming of the Wellington mill at Barking, built in the year of Waterloo. Essex connections among the officers involved at Gibraltar might be ascertainable. The Bardfield oddity preceded the next known brick tower mills in Essex – at Tiptree and Clavering – by over 50 years. Of possible relevance to the origins of Bardfield mill is the great storm of November 1703, described by the diarist Evelyn, and which must have felled many post mills, as did the great hurricane of 1661. Coincidentally Daniel Defoe’s book The Great Storm, in which he chronicled a miscellany of reports on that earlier devastating storm, was published in 1703, recording inter alia the destruction of over 400 windmills about the country. If 1704 was indeed the date of building at Bardfield, the memory of those storms would have been fresh and vivid, and would have acted as a stimulus to new thoughts on windmill construction, here and there piercing the thick armour of conservatism to enter accepted practice. The development of the three crosstrees in the mill subsequently moved to Moreton should be considered in this context.

 The documentary description of the mill of 1707 does not use the words “brick and timber built”, which would have been likely had there been a considerable smock frame or a post mill body over the brickwork. Indeed, the earlier tower mills in rural areas, working one pair of stones on cloth sails, and turned to wind by means of a braced tailpole, or possibly by winch or crowbar at curb level internally, were of modest height, so far as evidence goes. The 20ft or so of earlier brickwork, as observed by Hills, with suitable additional courses on which to base a circular wooden curb, and with cap built over, would have given adequate play to sails driving a single runner stone. Even in 1809 the reconstituted mill was turning no more than a single pair of stones. The weight of the cap, covering a tower top of about 15ft internal diameter at the present second floor level, may have caused some difficulty in winding, probably being carried by wood or iron skids aided by grease. In this connection it is worth recalling the stone-built tower mill at Chesterton, Warwickshire, erected in 1632 and certainly used for milling in 1647. To the end of its working days (1910) it was turned by an internal winch at curb level. The diameter of the cap is 24ft. Its weight, with sheers and former covering of lead, was estimated at about 5 tons, and it finally rotated on rollers. Bardfield was therefore no breakthrough in technique, even assuming an ignorance of the impressive Dutch achievements in tower mill construction. The conversion of the windmill into a cottage could be attributed to the provision of a second pair of stones in the watermill, or it may indicate that the mill as first constructed was finally condemned as a failure.

 County maps broadly confirm the known history of the mill. A mill symbol appears at the site on the map of Warburton, Bland and Smyth, c1724, and also on a map of 1755 and on Chapman and Andre (1777). {An indenture of 1754 describes the property as} “all that cottage…commonly called…..Gibralter (sic) with a little…garden plot…containing half an acre…as the same is now converted and made into a Wind Mill.” A reference to the firm date given by Hills for the conversion has not been traced.

 A brief technical review must rely heavily on random notes by past researchers supplemented by a check on the machinery still preserved, most of which is comparatively late in origin. The writer regrettably did not enter the mill when the machinery was intact in the 1950s. The tower, 3ft 6in to 4ft thick at base, tapers from 20ft to 13ft internally through a height of about 32ft, over which the cap rises a further 12ft. Thus the mill stands about 44ft high. The walls taper to about 3ft thick at first-floor level, and above the rough octagonal lower section partake of a 16-sided form, merging to circular at the curb. The floor heights within are ground  8ft, first 7½ ft, second 7ft, and third 6ft 4in to curb level.

 The four anti-clockwise patent sails, fitted with large and small canvas-covered wooden frames for shutters, were set in an iron windshaft cast by Christy and Norris of Chelmsford and fitted c1877 by Sillitoe and Brewer of Long Melford. The neck was set in a swingpot bearing. This firm then also supplied a clasp-arm brakewheel in pine and an iron wallower which may not, however, have been the last. The present brake wheel has six iron segments of 15 teeth, each bolted to the wooden felloes, which are blanks without mortises, and the 90 teeth engaged with 44 cogs in the iron mortice wallower, to convey the drive via an iron upright shaft to the great spur, with 88 cogs, and the nuts with 18. Thus the gear ratio from sails to the two pairs of stones was approximately 1:10.

 The stones, on the first floor, were underdriven from the great spur now preserved in situ, and the stone nuts were disengaged by rack and pinion. The sack hoist drive was from a ring on the upright shaft on the first floor to the hoist on the floor above, and the governor for the stones was belt-driven from the upright shaft below the great spur.

 Until 1899 the cap had been hand-winded, but there then occurred a disastrous tailwinding. The wind chain broke and the sails were blown off, carrying with them the brake wheel and wrenching the cap out of position. It appears that the mill then stood capless for about five years. Wailes gives 1904 as the year when the 8-bladed fantail was fitted. This operated through bevel gears to a spur pinion against the rack. The striking gear was controlled by lever worked over pulley wheels on the fan stage. There are large curved full-length sheers in oak to form the basis for the cap, which measures 18ft long by 15ft wide at sheers level, and has an attractive boat-shaped design with a plunging ridge. It turned on “live” rollers running on a flat iron track, and was centred by the usual system of truck wheels, but apparently relied on its great weight, well supported by the massive tower, to resist any tendency to rise, there being no keep flange above the centring wheels. The present brakewheel, lacking cog mortices, must also date from the time of provision of the new cap and fantail.


Smock mill, gone


Five floors, patent sails. The mill was 8-sided, slightly battered, painted white and set on a single-storey brick base. There were four single-shuttered anti-clockwise sails with canvas-covered shutters, an iron windshaft and a wood-rimmed brakewheel, working latterly a pair each of wheat and barley stones. The middlings were strongly clamped over the sail box. The ogee cap with gallery was winded by a 6-bladed fan, which drove to an iron rack on the outside of the curb. There was no stage, but the first floor over ground level had a loading door, and the stones were on the floor above. The mill was built on the sharp rise on which one or more post mills had previously stood.

BARKING, Wellington Mill

Smock mill, gone


There are at least ten photographic views of the mill to be seen, taken from many angles. These allow the approximate dimensions to be estimated, as quoted below, and a comparison ventured with the Upminster smock mill of possible common parentage.

The brick base had two floors, as opposed to one at Upminster, and the overall height of the brickwork was about 15ft, carrying the 30ft timber frame above, and a further 9ft of cap, giving an estimated height to top of cap from ground of 54ft, a little in excess of Upminster. The latter measures 28ft 6in between opposed octagonal faces at sill level, but Barking perhaps 30ft, and if the smock frame faces of the two mills are compared, we have at Barking a width of 12ft 6in tapering to 6ft at 30ft above, and at Upminster 10ft 6in to 5ft 6in at 32ft above. This gave Barking a more generous allowance of space at the vital level – the stone floor – which Brooks described as in the brick base, clearly on the first floor. One would have expected, perhaps, to find the known four pairs of stones on the second floor, as at Upminster. The smock frame held four floors, assuming a dust floor under the cap, giving a total of six in all, as confirmed by a sale notice.

 On account of the pronounced batter – about 13 degrees from the vertical up the faces – and the modest fantail staging, the chain for the striking gear was suspended from a wooden member emerging from the right sheer and projecting about 10ft from the rear to bring the chain out over the stage for weighting. The stage, the boat-shaped cap with gallery, the deep petticoat and the general appearance show a marked affinity with Upminster mill. A six-bladed fantail was last employed, turning to wind two pairs of double-shuttered anti-clockwise patent sails of thirteen bays each, incorporating a grand total of 312 shutters, large and small. In contrast, the relatively primitive Barling smock windmill carried ultimately two pairs of spring sails with 136 shutters in all.

 Something of the mill interior can be gleaned from a schedule of contents included in an indenture of lease dated June 1883: the list is reproduced in full in Vol 2 Appendix C. The upright shaft is described as nearly new and must, therefore, have been in iron, as was also the 8ft 6in great spur wheel which drove four pairs of stones. These were all French burrs, three of 4ft 6in and one of 4ft 4in. There was also a full complement of auxiliary machines: a bolter, jumper and oat crusher, and smut and flour machines.


Smock mill, gone


The round brick base was, so far as is known, unique for such a mill {a smock mill} in the county. Photographs show two heavy iron bands making a circuit of the brickwork. As to turning the mill “at the Bottom” {in a 1765 sale notice}, this seems to indicate a braced tailpole. The replacement chain and wheel operating a worm geared to a rack on the curb survived until the end. A fantail was never fitted.

 Some details of the mill’s interior have been put on record by John Salmon. The wooden frame was octagonal (not hexagonal, as stated by Donald Smith), and contained only two floors above ground level. The windshaft was wooden with an iron canister, and most of the gearing was also of wood, an exception being the three iron gears, presumably two bevels and a pinion, driven by the large chain-turned wooden winding wheel under the rear overhang of the cap, which system thrust against iron segment teeth on the outside of the curb as seen in a photograph. The old wooden worm and rack cogs has therefore been replaced. The middle, or stone, floor contained three pairs of underdriven stones on a hurst and a bolter. A curiosity in the mill was a centrifugal governor with three arms and weights instead of the customary two.

 Barling mill had a plain exterior, the base, smock frame from sill to curb and the cap measuring approximately 6.22 and 8 feet respectively, giving an overall height, allowing for the cap and curb overlap, of about 34 feet. The cap had a straight horizontal ridge and an almost triangular cross section. The last four sails were single-shuttered anti-clockwise, tensioned against semi-elliptic springs at the heel as on the existing pair at Bocking. Each carried 34 shutters.


Tower mill, gone


According to Cornell {H C Cornell, the last miller}, the mill worked only two pairs of stones, both burrs, underdriven, and 4ft 4in and 4ft 2in in diameter, using an iron windshaft, no doubt the original, a wooden brake wheel, upright shaft, spur gear and stone nuts. Auxiliary power was firstly by portable steam engine, engaging ultimately with the great spur gear; later a Hornsby oil engine was used. For the latter one pair of stones was brought to the ground floor and the other was left to the vagaries of the wind. There were four floors in all, and a photograph of the mill in working order shows a domed cap with a {gallery,} large finial and four double-shuttered anti-clockwise patent sails having nine bays of three shutters and an inner one of two. Since the long vanes measured 4ft and the short 2ft, making an overall width, including frames, of 7ft there was a total effective driving surface of some 800 square feet. A six-bladed fantail, handsomely integrated with the cap structure, winded the mill, but as an added precaution against decapitation by a tail wind a heavy, shaped iron band, secured to the forward end of the tail beam, followed round the windshaft, leaving it free play.


Post mill, gone


The mill has a two-storied roundhouse, painted white. Four single-shuttered clockwise patent sails last drove the {two pairs of} stones; at one time there had been four commons. Another modernisation was the fitting of an 8-bladed fantail to the rear steps, elaborately braced to the ladder strings and the end section of the tailpole, which was retained. The whole assembly ran on one track.

BELCHAMP WALTER, Cottonbury Mill

Post mill, roundhouse survives


The mill stood off an unfrequented lane. In its entirety it was not remembered locally in 1972 but to step into the roundhouse was to be persuaded that the mill was in position overhead, for the substructure is complete, and even carries the collar over the quarterbars. At some time the roundhouse was fitted with a bake-oven, the chimney of which survives. The oak crosstrees measure about 21ft long by 10 to 11 in square in section, with cuts 5in deep in the upper surfaces at their intersection under the centre post. Here, there was a gap of 2in between them. They were slightly reduced in width to pass through the post with a close fit, and they abutted tightly against it as at Mill Green, Ingatestone, without wedging. The post was of small section, being barely 20in square at the base and 17in square at the quarterbar mortices. The quarterbars average 9 by 10in, and enter the main post with 4in wide tenons.

 Usually, when roundhouses are retained, the slope of the roof is carried up at the same angle to be suitably capped over the sawn-off main post. Here the collar was left in situ owing to the presence of an unusual feature – a triple ring of 3in square wooden segments, arranged one above the other on 13in centres and having an internal diameter of 7ft 10in. Outside these rings was attached vertical weatherboarding, which would have deflected most of the driving rain. The lowest ring sits in a notch in each quarterbar and is held to that position by tapered wooden pieces spiked on the quarterbar. All the substructure timber has been painted white, and at some points shows signs of weathering.

 One relic preserved is a cross-tailed gudgeon, formerly the tail journal of a windshaft, and having two iron bands jammed round the wings as though left by the complete disintegration of the wood. If a legacy of the Belchamp Walter windmill, then that mill had a wooden windshaft.


Post mill, gone


A faded photograph barely reveals four massive double-shuttered patent sails, a tall roundhouse, fantail drive on the rear ladder, and a gracefully arched rear porch.


Post mill, gone


Little Bentley and Ramsey mills were closely comparable in a number of important respects. Both had a strong Suffolk character, with substantial roundhouses, similarly equipped “bucks” or bodies containing three pairs of stones, and a fantail mounted over the rear of the roof. But whereas the fan on Ramsey drove down to a gear ring on the main post, that at the sister mill was said by John Brooks to have driven down through shafting to “wheels on a  tailpole”. This appears to be confirmed by a surviving photograph and also by a sketch based on another photograph formerly available to the artist. A large iron wheel with a broad rim crossed by strakes to give a grip on the ground track when turning was mounted on the tailpole extremity, and carried a gear ring at approximately mid-diameter. To drive this, the fan turned shafting running down on the rear face of the mill, and this presumably acted through bevels and further shafting along the length of the tailpole. This unusual system of winding was at one time in use at the most easterly of the three post mills at Swefling in Suffolk, but when new rear steps were fitted at a late date the fantail was brought down and set up over them. At Little Bentley the tail steps ran on two small truck wheels. Two concentric tracks were thus necessary for the ladder and tailpole circles.

 A minor feature of the mill body which pointed to the handiwork of one of the Collins family, long-established millwrights in Suffolk, was the slight overhang of the roof boards over those of the body below. This was effected by spiking a small fillet along the exterior centre line of each of the top side rails and bringing the roof spars down to rest partly on them and to end flush with their outside faces. The weatherboards attached to the spars were thus stepped out slightly over those below, and the rainwater would have fallen clear of the body. But there was one snag – the mice were given a ready-made refuge in the “pockets” behind the rails and between the roof spars.