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Technical descriptions of English windmills



Post mill, gone

There were four patent sails, which nearly touched the ground, and the mill was winded by a fantail on the ladder. There was a floor over the windshaft. Three gearwheels were mounted on the windshaft: the brakewheel, a “spur wheel” and a “face wheel”(1). At a guess the mill had spur gearing in the breast off the brakewheel for two pairs of stones and the other two gears, unless one was actually the tailwheel, were for machines.(2)

(1) TMS September 1940, in HESS

(2) HESS

PICKWORTH, Claypole’s Mill

Tower mill, stump remains


This mill had two common and two spring sails and was fantail-winded. There were two pairs of stones, a dresser and a curious pair of governors of the type known as “cow’s horns”(1). Provision was made for drive by steam(2).

(1) TMS February 1941, in HESS

(2) TMS September 1940

PINCHBECK, Horse and Jockey Mill

Tower mill, gone


There were five centring wheels, three at the rear and one each side. Four double-shuttered sails were fitted. The wallower was iron mortice and 3ft in diameter, with a square casting for mounting on the upright shaft. The latter was of wood, 14” square above the great spur wheel and 5” round below tapering to 3½” at base. The 6ft all-iron great spur wheel had a cog ring on top for the engine drive, beside teeth on the upper face of the rim which were probably for the auxiliary machinery. Two pairs of stones, in circular casings, were located on the east and west sides, the eastern pair having a wooden hopper and horse. The iron mortice stone nuts were 16” in diameter and the quants 2½” square. On the base of the upright shaft at floor level was a 16” diameter all-iron nut which drove the single large pair of governors on the floor below through a similar gear beside it. The governors were mounted on a thin semicircular iron bracket suspended from the ceiling. The bridge trees were iron and also suspended from the ceiling. The engine drive was in the form of a 4ft outside pulley on the south side, on a 3” round layshaft carrying a 1ft 9” pulley mounted in a hurst frame and from which a belt went to a third pulley on a shaft in line with the great spur wheel.(1)

(1) HESS 12th September 1946

PINCHBECK West Mill (Glenside)

Tower mill

Standing today, tower only


The red brick tower had been raised from three floors to five in 1812(1); it carried a datestone over the door commemorating this, with the initials “RT”(2). Below the third floor all the timber had been used from elsewhere(3). The fantail had six blades and there were four single-sided spring sails with coil springs lying alongside the backs(4). The springs were operated singly by hand, through a rod on the face of the whip, there being a plate with notches at intervals for adjusting the shutters according to the wind; for some of them it was necessary to mount a portable platform on wheels to do the job. The windshaft, brake wheel, wallower and great spur wheel were all wooden.(5) The windshaft was square tapering to 15” octagonal at the tail, the neck being 8” diameter(6). There were two pairs of stones (Wailes says four), one being engine-driven from an external engine(7).

(1) RW in HESS

(2) Karl Wood 1937

(3) RW in HESS

(4) HESS

(5) Mr Cobbin in HESS, August 1946

(6) RW in HESS

(7) TMS February 1941


Tower mill

Standing today, tower only


The mill had four double-shuttered sails working four pairs of stones and a dresser, with provision for steam drive. The wallower, upright shaft and great spur wheel were iron, the brakewheel wood with iron segment teeth.(1)

(1) HESS


Tower mill, gone


This was a small, three-storey red brick mill with a datestone on which was inscribed “PS 1822”. The shape of the ogee cap was more reminiscent of Yorkshire than Lincolnshire. There were four single-shuttered spring sails with coil springs along the backs. The octagonal upright shaft tapered from 1ft to 9” diameter. Two pairs of stones, one French and one grey, and a dresser were driven.(1)

(1) RW in HESS


Tower mill, standing today


The tower was built of red brick. Up to 1925 there were four double-shuttered sails, but then one pair were replaced with singles. One pair of French and one of grey stones were installed.(1)

(1) HESS

RIPPINGALE, Claypole’s Mill

Post mill, gone

This was a white mill with four spring sails working two pairs of stones arranged head-and-tail(1).

(1) HESS

ROPSLEY, Ropsley Mill

Tower mill, stump remains


This was a tarred mill with four double-shuttered sails and four pairs of stones(1). TMS says it was of brick, Wailes that it was stone-built.

(1) TMS September 1940