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Technical descriptions of English windmills



Smock mill, demolished 1977


The sheers of the cap are in two pieces, the join being just aft of the sprattle beam. The brakewheel was hung on iron plates mounted on ribs on the windshaft. The clasp-arm great spur wheel had been converted from an old compass-arm wheel. The sack hoist was driven from a wooden face gear on the upright shaft as at Impington and Mill Green, Warboys; a jockey pulley was used to tension the slack belt.(1)

(1) RW 19/4/1950


Open-trestle post mill, standing today


The mill was rebuilt c1817 and restored in 1966. It contains an assortment of timbers ranging in age from pre-1817 to recent replacements. The body measures 17ft by 11ft in plan as framed by the main corner posts, but has been extended 2ft 6in at the rear, though not to full height, and the old door jambs have been left in position. The overall height of the mill is 32 ½ feet; as at Ashdon the body rests on a very low-built substructure. The post was replaced in 1877 and the samson head which caps it and the iron plating under the crowntree were probably fitted at the same time. The fantail, over the rear steps, was added in 1890, superseding a tailpole. Also of note is the fact that the tail steps still incline up to the old doorway where the sheers terminate, so that the present access is by a short and steeper flight of seven treads placed on the old set.

 The two front corner posts are thickened inwards at top to broaden their support to the weatherbeam, but the rear posts have a uniform section. The side girts measure 15in deep by 7in wide and one bears an inscription H A 1821. Two intermediate posts in the side framing on either side do not extend above the girts, and the other main framing members largely follow Essex practice, but the two pairs of diagonals in the front panels in each case form a V-shape pointing downwards into the prick post, the upper pair running to the corner posts below the weather beam, and the lower to the underside of the meal beam. Apparently the millwright had arrived at a similar conclusion as to the interdependence of the front framing members from that reached by the builder of Mill Green mill, Ingatestone. The mill is devoid of the usual support rods for the sheers.

 Both main driving wheels, head and tail, on the iron windshaft are of a clasp-arm type, converted from compass-arm; the rear example appears to be very old. Both turned iron nuts. There was little room for the rear stones, whose vat came within 16in of the weatherboarding. The tentering systems for the head and tail stones are in complete contrast, the former using the old bridgetree and bray combination in wood, and the latter the “streamlined” composite iron bridge. The comparatively short forward bray had replaced an earlier one spanning the front corner posts such as survives at Mill Green. The rear bridgetree consists of a fixed section with a pivoted and adjustable arm below: the governor controlled one end and there was a height control for the other end in the form of a hand wheel of 18in diameter operating two bevels which raised or lowered a vertical shaft threaded where it passed through the fixed bridgetree. This pivoted end could thus be sensitively adjusted, while the working variations emanating from the governor were applied to the footstep bearing of the stone spindle as described under Stock. The unit carries the inscription below: W RAWLINGS CAMBRIDGE.

 Inevitably the restoration of 1966 has banished some distinctive features of the working days, including the complete covering of lath and plaster beneath the studding, and the working 8-bladed fantail, now replaced in skeleton form. The fantail gearing has been retained, and includes the refinement of two shafts from the fan spindle downwards. A factor in the good state of preservation of the mill was the green painted corrugated iron covering on breast, roof and sides down to girt level; this has been removed and the defective and much plated crosstrees and quarterbars renewed. The sail frames are bereft of shutters. The mill was last fitted with four anti-clockwise single-shuttered patents operated by external striking gear.

(K G Farries, Essex Windmills, Millers and Millwrights, Vol.3)


Post mill, standing today


Were it not for its extensive rebuilding in 1979-81 the small open-trestle post mill at Great Gransden would be a contender for the distinction of being the oldest windmill in the country. It does still contain some original material including the upper right side rail, sheers, side girts and a timber on which is faintly inscribed the date 1575 – the earliest so far found in an English windmill – although I did not see this on either of my visits. There are records indicating a mill on the site in 1612 and the bolter is dated 1774. It ceased work in 1912 and although some attempt was made to keep it in sound condition during the following years, by the later twentieth century the corner posts  had become badly warped, while other structural members were beyond repair; this made reconstruction with new timber inevitable. The original post was retained, but new crosstrees and quarterbars fitted. The rebuilding was done in pine rather then the original oak. This is nonetheless a charming little mill, whose white-painted sails contrast attractively with the tarred body. It ended its working days with one pair of common and one pair of spring sails, and has been restored accordingly. The roof is curved with a slight touch of ogee, and the spout floor was extended at some point in the mill’s working life, though this is less prominent than on some other post mills (particularly in the Midlands), and was common in Huntingdonshire in which county the mill stood until the boundary reorganisations of 1974 (it remains the nearest thing to a complete Huntingdonshire windmill). There is a slight protrusion at the tail. The extension could not have been to accommodate auxiliary machinery unless the latter was subsequently relocated, as the surviving bolter is not in a position where alterations would have been required to the configuration of the buck.

 The original machinery remains, but some of it has been dismantled or displaced from its correct position, making interpretation difficult. The odd bits and pieces, including timber from past repairs, lying about plus the fact that the mill is poorly lit, the windows being very small, absent or boarded over, makes inspection of the interior and particularly the framing difficult  but I have done my best. 


There is a transverse member about a third of the way up. On each side of the prick post there are two short uprights below the transverse beam and a single one above; the single uprights terminate in a further transverse beam higher up.


Beneath the side girt and between the main rear corner posts and the extension corner post are two uprights with diagonals going to each from the side girt, terminating about a third of the height of the uprights. Higher up beneath the side girt a transverse beam is broken by the uprights and diagonals. The two main uprights and the diagonals going to them are original.

The framing on the left side of the floor is difficult to inspect as it is partly obscured by the bolter.

SPOUT FLOOR REAR FRAMING (from left, looking towards tail)

There are three uprights between the extension corner post and the left-hand door post. The door is not centrally placed and there are no uprights between it and the rear right extension corner post. Short timbers make up the roof of the spout floor extension.


The stairwell is on the rear left-hand side.

A wooden windshaft carries a large clasp-arm wood brakewheel and an 8-armed iron mortice tailwheel; the latter is of smaller diameter than the former. The brakewheel is almost solid with substantial cants and double rim (the outer segmented) and very short clasp arms, the spaces between which are infilled with wedges and packing. It had two concentric rings of applewood(1) cogs, one on each rim, which were staggered as at Madingley, but the inner ring and some of the outer have been removed leaving empty mortices. The wooden brake is connected to the brake lever by the usual iron strap. 

The arms of the tailwheel are bevelled on their outer faces.

 There are two pairs of burr(2) stones, one in the head and one in the tail; they are not on quite the same level as the floor is raised forward of the crowntree. Both are without their furniture. The headstones have an all-iron stone nut and quant. The tail runner has been removed and the nut and quant, again of iron, are lying across the bedstone. The upper bearing of the head quant is located on the underside of the sprattle beam; the sprattle for the tailstones is missing.

 Several items lie displaced on the spout floor: (1) The machine drive layshaft, carrying a wooden belt pulley and a spur pinion which meshed with the outer row of cogs on the brakewheel; (2) a pair of wood pulleys separated from their shafts. Also on the spout floor is the straked wooden bollard of the sack hoist itself. T J Mason claimed in 1941 that this was driven from a wooden pulley on the windshaft behind the tailwheel, but there is no sign of one.  


The ladder to the bin/stone floor is on the rear left hand side, footed in an old timber in the floor which spans it between the rear corner posts, marking roughly the point where the extension begins. There is a small window in the front right hand side.

 The bridgetrees run fore and aft. Two hangers shaped around the forward face of the crowntree carry the “southern” end of the head bridgetree between them. A timber runs “east” towards the wall of the mill from the bridgetree about halfway along its length and one end of the steelyard is connected to it, the other  terminating of course at the governor. The brayer is pivoted in an upright to the left of the prick post. A belt from the drum on the governor spindle does not appear to go to the stone spindle extension, passing instead to the south-west of it. The upper end of the governor spindle turns in a stone bearer and the lower in a short timber projecting from a hanger depending from the front face of the crowntree. A “zig-zag” steelyard goes to the right end of the brayer.

 The hangers for the tail bridgetree depend from the underside of the stone bearers. The brayer runs from the end of the bridgetree near the door towards the rear right wall of the mill but does not terminate there. On the stone spindle a large wooden block takes the place of the belt drum for the governor. On the right side of the brayer as you come in is the steelyard link. The steelyard goes at an angle towards the far wall; its forked end is suspended in mid-air as the governor is no longer in its proper position. There is no indication how the latter was mounted as the timbers in question have either gone or been displaced. 

 Whereas that for the headstones is conventional, this governor is of a very odd type, being of wrought iron with three stone (RW 19/4/50 says lead) balls, cylindrical rather than spherical, on arms travelling outwards on curved horns. These features have not been noted elsewhere. The governor is currently bolted to the central vertical member of the right side framing. A solid wood belt drum is mounted on its spindle.

 On the left side of the floor is a large bolter; it is positioned fore and aft very close to the main post, emphasising that the mill, which is by no means on the large side, must have been somewhat cramped when in use. It bears the inscription “TL 1774. RW.” At the rear right hand corner of its casing a vertical post, whose structural purpose is not clear, ascends from floor to ceiling.

Description based on visits made 8th May 2009 and 10th May 2010

(1) RW 19/4/1950

(2) TJM 1941



Tower mill, standing today (tower only)

The ogee cap had a gallery. All the machinery was of iron(1), as was the stone furniture(2). The fantail gearing consisted of a vertical shaft geared to a horizontal one, which was geared to a third shaft at the side. Three pairs of stones were underdriven; latterly only one pair of peaks remained.(3) One of the nuts had 36 teeth, the largest number found in the region(4). The tentering gear was similar to that at Potton, Bedfordshire. The sack hoist was driven from the crown wheel. The patent sails had canvas shutters. The  first floor beams were supported by an iron column from ground level, on which rested a lateral beam between them.(5) 

(1) HRH and L Chapman in HESS 1949

(2) RW 19/4/1950

(3) HRH in HESS

(4) RW 19/4/1950

(5) HRH in HESS


Tower mill, standing today


Great Mill at Haddenham was built in 1803, as recorded on a tablet over the loading door. It is a broad (hence its name) five-storey tower mill of yellow brick, partly cement-rendered, with a rather flat, though with a relatively sharp taper, dome cap which has a rear cowling, originally intended to house hand winding gear, like that at Wicken smock mill, with a hatch in it, here positioned off-centre on the right, giving access onto the fanstage. The fan cradle is low slung and angled, without the tall fly posts braced to the apex of the cap roof that are usually found on Cambridgeshire smock and tower mills. Both cap and cowling are vertically boarded and the former has a “petticoat” protecting the curb.

 The mill has been restored in recent years and a new cap, brake wheel and wallower fitted. Below this level the machinery is more or less original, as is the windshaft. The patent sails, which originally had canvas shutters(1) are currently missing, and the fantail damaged, but it is expected that these deficiencies will be put right in due course.

 The breast beam is connected by two short longitudinal members, bolted to the undersides of the relevant timbers, to the lateral beam in front of the brakewheel, aft of which are the sprattle beam, the tailbeam and the rear lateral beam on which is mounted the vertical shaft of the fantail gearing. The rest of the winding gear and the rocking lever of the striking gear are within the cowling. Projecting from each sheer are four short timbers to which the cap circle is attached; these are located just aft of the first lateral beam, opposite the point where the sprattle beam joins the sheer, on the sheer between the sprattle beam and the tailbeam, and opposite where the tailbeam joins the sheer. I could make out four truck wheels, two on each side; one on each of the timbers projecting aft of the first lateral beam, and one on each of those located opposite the junctions of the sheers and tailbeam. Those on the left have five arms, those on the right six. The wheels are stated by Simmons in 1947 to have been “on about forty odd years”, indicating a major refitting c1907, and fashioned from a mould made by the miller himself. 

 On the right sheer between the first lateral beam and the sprattle beam is the vertical stub timber in which the front end of the brake lever is pivoted. Two vertical posts are bolted to the sheer between the rear two projecting timbers and the lever passes between them. Mounted between the posts above the lever is the pulley by means of which the latter is raised by chain. At its upper end the left hand post is fixed to a roof framing member. At the same point the right hand post is fixed to a horizontal timber between two more roof framing members; it is footed in a longitudinal timber between the two projecting lateral timbers rather than to the sheer as is normal practice. Braking is achieved by an iron band around the brakewheel connected to the lever by the usual strap. An interesting system, also seen at Over mill, is adopted whereby the lever is raised to engage with its catch, and then lowered, by a flanged wooden pulley and chain, the latter being fed through a hole in the cap boarding and operated from outside.

 The curb is of wood and inset from the top of the tower wall; it is segmented and in three stepped layers, creating at the top a ledge on which run the rollers. There are twenty – the largest number I have ever come across – of the latter, spaced more or less evenly around the cap circle.

 The part of the winding gear that is within the cap is mounted in a wooden frame at the back. I did not manage to examine it at close quarters but could make out a vertical shaft, with a lever provided at the top for hand cranking, on which are mounted two large iron bevel gears the upper of which appears to mesh with a third gear, half inside and half outside the mill, engaging with the nut on the long diagonal shaft which transmits the drive from the fan. On the lower end of the vertical shaft is a nut meshing with a horizontal toothed iron gear, probably on a shorter shaft carrying a further nut engaging with the rack.

 The striking rod appears to be missing but the iron frame in which the distinctively curved rocking lever is mounted remains, as does the lever itself.


This is very low. The stairwell is on the south-east side.

 The iron windshaft is circular and in two sections with a large flange coupling where they join. The wallower and brakewheel are both of wood, as is the brake, and clasp-arm. The arms of the wallower are deeper than the rim, which they are rebated to take. From its position the sack hoist appears to have been driven from a friction rim on the wallower, now missing. The iron-straked wood bollard, which is new or second-hand, carries an iron pulley with eight bevelled arms. The hoist and its support frame are on the northwest side close to the plane of the brakewheel. A hinged diagonal lever is attached at one end to the horizontal timber for moving the hoist in/out of gear. From the other hangs the rope on which the miller pulls. The chain from the hoist goes over a pulley suspended from a wooden frame attached to the wall and then down, like the rope, through a hole in the floor. 

The upright shaft is of wood throughout its length.


There is a window on the west side. The stairwell is on the north-east side, the ladder to the dust floor on the southwest, and on the east is a raised sack trap. The upright shaft here is ten-sided, or more accurately hexagonal with chamfered corners. It bears some finely carved old dates e.g. “R Porter 1837” and “WB”.


The original sack hoist bollard is preserved on this floor. It has cylindrical and square sections, and an iron pintle and gudgeon at both ends. There are windows on the east and west sides. The stairwell is on the northeast side, the ladder to above on the north. On the east is another raised sack trap. The bins have gone, but they were to the right of a partition on the west side running parallel to the southern of the main ceiling beams from the upright shaft to the wall. The upright shaft is encased for most of its height on this floor in protective trunking, above which is a solid flanged disc from which the ancillary machinery was originally driven.

Stored on this floor are the sail shutters, two dismantled hoppers and a broken iron wheel whose purpose is unknown.


There are windows on the east and west sides. The stairwell is on the northwest. On the north side are a loading door and the ladder to the bin floor.

 The upright shaft here is in two sections, with the coupling on a horizontal beam carried on cheek pieces fixed to the undersides of the main ceiling beams, which run north-south. There are three pairs of underdriven stones located on the north, west and south sides. The northern stones, along with the southern, retain their original furniture; the tun for the northern is circular whereas those for the western and southern pairs are octagonal. The northern stones may have been engine-driven. The tun and hopper for the western stones are new, the furniture otherwise being original. Of note is the rather amazing set-up whereby the southern pair was converted at some point to be driven by engine. Where a quant would be on overdriven wind stones there is a long vertical shaft, in two sections with a coupling, ending in a large flanged iron pulley with six curved spokes. How exactly it was driven is unclear; it could not at present be worked as the pulley is within an opening in the structure of the bin floor and level with it, with no clearance for a belt. It seems likely this was a modification which was abandoned at some point, either before or as part of internal alterations, and that when the floor levels were changed the new floor was built around the pulley rather than going to the bother of removing the latter. There is no projection on the shaft to serve as a damsel.

   On the south side, positioned at an angle, is a large bolter which probably was originally driven by wind but later by an electric motor, still present, with a belt going to a flanged wooden pulley on the spindle of the machine. On the east is a vertical smutter in a wooden casing mounted on the wall; a belt went to a flange on its spindle from, it is believed, the horizontal pulley on the shaft of the engine stones; this would have been an economical way of driving both them and the smutter at the same time.


There are doors on the east and west sides and windows on the north and south. The ladder to the stone floor is on the southwest side.

 The main timbers of the dummy floor supporting the upright shaft run east-west. Short longitudinal timbers between them carry the bridge beam, which is of wood and given additional support from the floor by an iron post which has square and chamfered sections and seems to be a reused quant. The great spur wheel is wooden with doubled clasp arms. Iron cog rings are bolted to the side and underside of the rim; the former is for the stone nuts and the latter the auxiliary machinery and engine drive.

 The western and eastern stone spindles rest on wooden bridge trees at right angles to the dummy floor beams and positioned between them. Both nuts are of iron mortice type and mounted on substantial tapered sections (rather like a kebab) on the spindles, in common Cambridgeshire fashion. It was not clear how  the western nut was taken in/out of gear but the eastern one has double rack and pinion adjustment. On the south side the nut is of the same type as the others; it is adjusted by means of a jack ring. The spindle rests on an iron bridgetree parallel to the main dummy floor beams and fixed between two longitudinal timbers running off them to the wall. An iron brayer and tentering screw are provided.

 There is one governor for each pair of stones. The western is mounted on a diagonal timber between the main dummy floor beams. This governor has a wooden flanged belt drum above it and the belt comes from a flanged section on the stone spindle above the nut. The steelyard travels southwest to a link mounted on and passing through the southern dummy floor beam, which terminates in a hand tentering screw. The southern governor is mounted on the right-hand of the two longitudinal timbers which here run off the southern dummy floor beam to the wall. It has a six-armed iron belt pulley above it on the spindle. The steelyard runs due west to a link and tentering screw on the end of the brayer, which goes north-south from the western end of the bridgetree. The eastern governor is on a wooden bracket projecting from an iron hanger from the southern main dummy floorbeam. Like the western it has a wooden belt drum. The steelyard runs southwest to a link and hand screw on the brayer.

 On the north side, the cogs on the underside of the rim of the great spur wheel mesh with an iron mortice gear on an iron layshaft which has a large iron pulley mounted on it near the wall, through which it passes to terminate in the external pulley for the engine drive. On the north side, the same cog ring engages

Another iron mortice gear on a wooden bollard, with a square and a cylindrical section, carrying near the wall a large solid wood pulley from which a belt, still in place, goes up to the floor above and the motor which drives the bolter. 

 On this floor are the decayed remains of an old gearwheel, probably the original wallower.

 The engine was a Hornsby which drove two pairs of 4ft stones on hurst frames in a shed adjacent to the mill(2).   

 The following measurements were noted by Rex Wailes and H E S Simmons, on 6th August 1947 and 19th April 1950 respectively:

Tower 16ft diameter at curb, 21ft at base (RW)

Cap 19ft diameter by 9ft 9in high (largest in Cambridgeshire-Huntingdonshire area)(RW)

Windshaft 10in diameter at neck, 7 and a half behind brakewheel and 6in at tail (HESS)

Wallower 5ft 9in diameter (HESS)

Sack hoist pulley 2ft diameter (HESS)

Upright shaft 14in diameter

Great spur wheel 9ft diameter (RW, HESS)

Arms of great spur wheel 13in deep (RW)

Simmons noted the relative lack of ironwork in the mill, particularly the main gearing (it is advanced in some ways, not in others), and the stoutness of the internal timbers.

Based on survey carried out by G Blythman 20th May 2014

(1) HESS 6/8/1947

(2) Ibid


Tower mill, standing today (tower only)


The yellow brick tower was tarred, had four storeys and stood on a mound. It bore a datestone inscribed “J W 1820”. The doors were vertically divided.(1) There was a fireplace on the ground floor(2). The ogee cap, with petticoat, had a gallery and turned on a dead curb, the skids also performing the role of centring wheels. The breast beam was curved. The dust floor was close under the cap and reached by a difficult vertical ladder. The bins were very small. 

 Right-hand(3) sails were fitted, with large 4’ by 2” shutters. The machinery was mostly of wood, with iron stone nuts. The brake was in two sections. The upright shaft was square and wooden. The stones were underdriven; the mill ended its working life with two pairs of French burrs but peaks had at one time been used. A secondary cog ring on the underside of the great spur wheel drove the sack hoist and a flour machine on the ground floor, the belts being tensioned by rollers with a jockey pulley for engaging the hoist.(4) The bell alarms were hit by a pin on the governor pulley, an unusual arrangement(5).

(1) HRH in HESS

(2) RW 19/4/1950, HRH in HESS

(3) HRH in HESS

(4) HRH in HESS, RW 19/4/1950

(5) RW 19/4/1950


Post mill, gone

The roundhouse roof was tiled. The main post was fourteen-sided at the top, unusually. The mill bore the inscription “AW 1749”.(1)

(1) RW 19/4/1950


Smock mill, gone


There was a domed cap with gallery, and at second floor level a wide staging. There were probably five floors above the ground. An interesting feature, in view of the mill’s height was the all-wooden construction of the tower, the brick base projecting barely more than a foot or so above ground level. The cant posts must have been exceptionally long and there were approximately 170 lines of weatherboarding from top to bottom, compared with some 75 on the smock frame of South Ockendon mill.(1)

(1) K G Farries, Essex Windmills, Millers And Millwrights Vol.3 (under Great Chesterford, Essex)


Smock mill, standing today


A rare and valued survivor, Impington is an example of a type of smock mill found in the Cambridge area and of which no other specimen, strictly speaking, survives (Downfield mill at Soham, which evolved along much the same lines, was similar but there the timber part of the tower has been renewed in brick). The short timber section accounts for less of the total height of the structure than would normally be the case and much of the machinery including the stones is withing the three-storey brick base, so that it could be argued this is partly a tower mill. The smock was originally half a storey higher, but a section was cut off the bottom when the base was raised. The mill is visually not dissimilar to French’s at Chesterton although the latter was built in its present form from the start. There are five floors in all, going down: dust floor and upper bin floor within the smock, then lower bin floor, stone floor and spout (ground) floor in the base. The hexagonal section of the smock and base are unusual. Generally the mill has a tall and narrow appearance; it stands 15m (49ft) from ground to windshaft. 

 The existing “tower” clearly exhibits four distinct phases. Slightly beneath ground level there is a shallow circular base made from bricks, not local, which have been identified as Tudor. They correspond to similar ones imported from the Baltic at King’s Lynn (the River Ouse connects to within two miles of Impington). It is reasonable to assume that this structure was the base of a roundhouse protecting the trestle of a post mill. On top of it is a second structure, only 5ft high above ground level and stepped inward a little, hexagonal in shape, and cutting the corners of the round base. It is made of a mixture of bricks, some Tudor (and presumably reused from the roundhouse) and some locally made c1620. There are three doorways in the substantial walls, but two are known to be modern; the third is the front access and in part is crudely cut so may not be original. It has been suggested that the structure is similar to the bases of a few Dutch post mills that had three trestles at 120 degree spacing, supported on timbers the sockets for which are still evident in the walls. The latter are much thicker (3ft) than those of a conventional roundhouse, implying they served a structural purpose, though not very high. Above the seventeenth-century brickwork is the smoothly tapering nineteenth-century tower, and lastly the two-storey smock. The latter was built on the existing base, whose hexagonal section it followed, not long before 1776 when a title deed refers to a timber windmill “lately erected”. The base was subsequently heightened considerably. Up to a certain point the bricks are thin and laid somewhat erratically, but above this level they are thicker and arranged more regularly in the manner of the nineteenth century. The description of the mill as a “tower mill” in an 1813 sale notice, whereas it is referred to as a smock in one of 1806, would appear to indicate the alteration was made between those years but the term “tower mill” was often used for smock mills anyway. It is likely the raising was done by the millwright William Rawlings, whose name is on one of the cranks of the striking gear and who also worked on Great Chishill and Great Gransden mills and Lode watermill. It is thought to have occurred, along with the fitting of patent sails, in 1882 when the miller took out a mortgage on the mill of £1000. The original indenture for the latter still exists. At the same time a fantail was added and there was a certain replacement of wooden machinery with iron. Mill owner Steve Temple has in his possession the cast-iron tail bearing of a wooden windshaft which may have come from here.(1) The sack hoist was renewed at this point or later. Mortices for former joists on the dust floor point to a reconfiguring of internal arrangements(2). A steam drive, probably external via a traction engine, to one of the stones had been installed by 1897 when it is mentioned in a sale notice(3); it was replaced by a gas engine in 1909. The latter has gone but its shed, which now serves as a millwrighting workshop, and the underground pipe survive(4).

 The framing of the smock is horizontally boarded on the outside and vertically boarded internally with cross-bracing all the way down. These features assisted the mill to survive after it ceased work, although successive owners have looked after the building well and most of the fabric of the smock tower is original. Previously the mill was vertically boarded only, and tarred, as shown in a photograph of 1897(5); by c1910(6) this had been covered over with horizontal boards painted white. 

 The windows in the smock are small and located near the edges of the panels of the framing, close to the cant post. None are triangular as at French’s Mill. The cant posts are fashioned in the Dutch style though “not so well made” in the words of the late Vincent Pargeter. They were slightly altered at the bottom in 1985, being flared to prevent rainwater damaging the connection between the smock and the tower.  

 A lean-to brick outbuilding, ascending to stone floor level, is built onto the base on the south side, with a hatch giving access from it to the stone floor. It would appear that there was never a stage; when first built the smock mill was too low to need one to service the common sails, while the patents did not require it. The base is battered but the taper is less pronounced than that of the smock. The brickwork is tarred, contrasting with the white smock and cap; the overall effect of this when combined with the neat ogee roof is very attractive. The cap is vertically boarded with an iron gallery; it has a rear dormer with a “storm door” in same giving access onto the fanstage.

 The cap frame consists of sheers, weather beam, lateral beam in front of the brakewheel, sprattle beam and tailbeam.  The sheers are split with two short sections angled forward at the front, which carry the weatherbeam and the second lateral timber and are mated with a large “wraparound” piece into which the main sheers are tenoned and which extends along their outsides to just aft of the sprattle beam. The main sheers, which are angled inwards slightly, are carried on to form the main horizontal members of the fantail platform.(7) The cap is centred by six iron six-spoked truck wheels, two on the lateral timber in front of the brakewheel, one on either sheer just aft of the sprattle beam, and two on the tailbeam. Iron bracing rods go from the mountings of the rear truck wheels to the sprattle beam.

 The curb is iron, with the rack on the outside; it appears to have been completely renewed c1910.(8) It is a combination of live and dead, with six cast-iron sliding pigs plus two rollers under the breast beam. 

 Unusually the spokes of the fantail are of wrought- and cast iron, rather than wood(9). The vertical shaft from the fan takes the drive to the rack through a bevel nut and gear, a spur pinion and a final nut meshing with the teeth of the rack(10).

 The four double-shuttered patent sails, with narrow leading edges, are mounted on an iron windshaft which carries a wooden clasp-arm brakewheel(11). Both the windshaft and the upright shaft have splints around them, probably due to a lightning strike. The brakewheel has an iron cog ring bolted on; the remains of the original wooden cogs may still be seen on its reverse face. The brake is of willow.

 Most of the machinery remains, though some of it is currently displaced and stored on the stone and ground floors.


As at Northfield mill, Soham and a number of other smock mills in the county additional timbers span the floor at two-thirds height, making a certain contribution to the structural rigidity of the smock. One of these timbers is older than the others and has a notch cut in it to provide the support for a sack hoist. The others appear to have been added later, possibly to provide a platform giving more direct access to the cap. They are rather worm-eaten and not properly jointed, and appear to have been something of a bodge, using poor quality wood.

 The brakewheel meshes with an iron mortice wallower of relatively light construction. The sack hoist, driven from the floor below off the crownwheel, is mounted in an iron frame and raised in and out of gear by a large iron lever. It is of relatively modern appearance and may have been installed in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. The earlier hoist would have been friction-driven from a ring on the underside of the wallower; the present wallower shows no trace of this, suggesting that it too is a replacement, most likely for a solid wood or clasp-arm affair.

 The siting of the stones so far down as the first floor of the mill means a very long upright shaft which is in two sections with a dog clutch on the lower bin floor. Throughout its length it is of wood, solidly constructed and square in section. The top part is much lighter than the bottom and of poorer quality timber. It was probably added when the smock was raised in 1882; the bottom section bears marks, due to wear caused by contact with the flooring, which do not correspond to the current floor levels.

UPPER BIN FLOOR/SACK FLOOR (lower floor of smock)

There are in fact no bins as such here; rather the sacks were emptied into chutes down which the grain travelled to the bins proper on the floor below. Steve Temple believes the whole floor originally served as a bin with a small access area to the ladders. The chutes for the northwest bin and the dresser are additions dating from the reconstruction of 1882.

 The windows are on the west, southeast, east and northwest sides. The stairwell is on the west side, with the sack trap to left of it, and the ladder to the dust floor on the southwest. On the northwest side is what appears to be a boarded-over hatch in the floor. 

 On this floor the upright shaft carries a solid wood clasp-arm crownwheel with a bevelled iron cog ring bolted to its lower face, the stumps of the wooden teeth still being evident. Driven off it on the northeast side is an iron layshaft carrying two pulleys, the inner of which has six arms. From this inner pulley a belt, still in place, goes down to the flour dresser on the stone floor. From the outer pulley, of wood and flanged, was driven the sack hoist on the dust floor. The bevel pinion on the layshaft which engaged with the crownwheel cogs is currently displaced awaiting recogging. Vertical posts extending to the ceiling carry between them a horizontal beam with a bearing supporting the neck of the layshaft. 

 The upright shaft is encased in wooden trunking to about half its height on this floor, as part of a “health and safety” measure undertaken during the life of the mill.

LOWER BIN FLOOR (Upper floor of base)

There are windows on the north and east sides, and the ladder to the sack floor is on the west side. The main ceiling beams run northwest-southeast. On this floor the sack trap is raised, coming up through the bin area.

 The bins, which take up much of the south and east sides of the floor, form a single structure divided into partitions, with the upright shaft passing through the point at the centre where they meet. At this point is a coupling uniting two sections of the shaft, with a dog clutch as at other Cambridgeshire mills such as Over. The coupling is in a casting bolted to the side face of a lateral timber, partly cut away to allow the upright shaft to turn, which is tenoned into two cheek pieces depending from the main ceiling beams.

 There is a single bin on the northwest side. To the right of this is an opening in the floor whose purpose is not clear.


There is a loading door on the west side. The stairwell and ladder to the floor above are in the corner of the west and southwest sides. The sacktrap is on the west. There are door-like windows on the northeast sides, and a third window on the southeast on which side a chute from the bin floor projects through the ceiling. The main ceiling timbers run northeast-southwest.

 The stones are underdriven.  At one point there were three pairs; one pair was smaller than the others, installed later and was eventually removed, possibly because it took up too much room in what was a relatively small (although appearing tall) mill. Marks on the stone floor and by one of the spouts on the bin floor testify to its former presence.(12) The third pair of stones was off an idler, which remains on site, and therefore must have run counter-clockwise. The idler has left “witness marks” on the underside of the floor.

 The other two pairs have also been removed. They were located north-south with the upright shaft between them. The position of one is indicated by the boarded-over opening in the floor; the other, the southern pair, by an empty tun within which, just below where the bedstone would have been, is a rigger for the stone nut. The pulley had a rope attached and there were two leather straps carrying iron hooks which engaged underneath the nut. The nut was splined onto the stone spindle so that pulling the rope around the pulley lifted it out of engagement with the great spur wheel.

 On the southern side is a loading door and on the northern a large, fine silk screen flour dresser with a hopper fed by a spout from the lower bin floor. It is mounted within a cast-iron frame bearing the inscription “William Gardner and Sons, Engineers, Gloucester.” A short layshaft, mounted in a block of wood fixed to the wall, enters the hopper to drive an agitator within it. The long drive belt from the layshaft on the upper bin floor continues down to the main drive pulley of the dresser. Below the latter is a worm screw conveyor.

 Two items of displaced machinery are lying on the floor: an iron mortice pulley and an iron shaft with a dog clutch in it and a four-armed bevelled iron mortice gear on the end. These items are part of the engine drive to one of the stone nuts(15). (The mechanism has now been reassembled.)


This floor is very low below ground level. There are no windows but steps lead down to doors on the east and west sides. The ladder to the stone floor, located to the right of the western door, is in two sections, the upper being in fact a short staircase, with a landing in between.

 The upright shaft terminates in a six-armed all-iron great spur wheel. It is footed in a longitudinal beam spanning the mill which is additionally supported at mid-length by a cast-iron column which is a reused drive shaft. The long timbers of the upright shaft support frame, between which the bridge beam is mounted, run north-south.

 The stone nuts and quants are currently displaced. One of the hourglass-shaped, ribbed iron bridge trees is still in situ while the other is on the floor along with a governor, an iron mortice pulley and a bevelled four-armed iron pulley. It is the owner’s intention to at some point reassemble all the displaced items so that the mill will again be capable of grinding corn. 

 Each pair of stones had its own governor, but only the northern one survives. The steelyards for both the remaining pairs are on site but at present only the northern one is in place; it is mounted in a hanger from a ceiling joist and goes to a brayer positioned at an angle between the wall and the western long timber of the upright shaft support frame or “dummy floor”. On the inward side of the eastern long timber, towards its southern end, is a rounded block of wood with a hole in its centre; this provided the pivot for the brayer for the southern stone. Twin iron rods spanning the long timbers flank the bridge beam; their role is presumably to give additional strength to the whole assembly. A lateral timber is fixed to the undersides of the long timbers at their southern ends. In one place the western long timber is heavily studded with nails.

 On the north side an iron layshaft enters through the wall, with a bearing for it on the upright shaft support beam. This carried the (extant) bevel gear to drive the northern pair of stones from the external engine. The spouts from the stones are on the south, north and southwest sides. An additional light cross beam carried the three from the dresser. To the left of the southeastern spout is a vertical iron spindle with two solid wood discs on it. This was the governor drive for the third pair of stones; the governor itself is missing as is that for the southern pair.

 The external pulley for the steam drive is mounted quite low down on the north side, and carries a fast and loose pulley outside. The drive has been reassembled apart from the stone shafts, installation of which is awaited. 

 Also on this floor is a French Burr stone in fragments; it is to be rebuilt. For demonstration purposes the pieces have meanwhile been arranged to make the stone appear complete.

 There are doors on the stone and ground floors on the eastern  side, one above the other and each in two halves like a stable door. The upper is a loading door and has a pulley mounted above it for the sack hoist chain; the latter was guided through the doorway and into a cart, which would have saved a lot of handling.

Description by Guy Blythman and Steve Temple, based on visits by Guy Blythman 2007, 2008, 9th May 2010, 2013. Thanks to Steve Temple for checking the text of the entry.

(1)  “Impington Mill, Its History And Restoration”, by Steve 

     Temple and Alan Eade, Histon and Impington Village Society 

     booklet no.23 (undated but post-2005)

(2)  Ibid

(3)  Ibid

(4)  Ibid

(5)  Ibid 

(6)  Ibid

(7)  Ibid

(8)  Ibid p30 

(9)  Ibid

(10) Ibid 

(11) Guy Blythman

(12) Temple and Eade 


Tower mill, standing today (tower only)


The tower was built externally of yellow and internally of red bricks. A surviving photograph shows two anti-clockwise double-shuttered patents, an ogee cap with ball finial, a gallery, and an 8-bladed fan between vertical supports, all in the Cambridgeshire style. Date 1836 inscribed on a stone set above the entrance to the mill. The tower has been truncated and roofed over just above fourth-floor level, so that it now stands about 40ft high. The taper is comparatively slight, from 23ft to 18ft internally in the remaining shell, and the walls are about 2½ ft thick. The floor beams cross at right angles on succeeding floors, and the first-floor beams are supported by two iron stanchions standing on the ground. By pockets in the walls and by other indications one concludes that there were four pairs of stones (confirmed in a note by H E S Simmons), overdriven, probably 4ft in diameter, and situated on the third floor, which measures about 19ft across. Ample light for stone dressing came through two iron-framed round-headed windows 56in by 32in across with 33 lights.(1)

(1) K G Farries, Essex Windmills, Millers and Millwrights Vol.4 (under “Hadstock”, Essex)


Tower mill, gone


There were four storeys. The cap turned on an L-shaped iron curb which was dead, the skids serving to centre the cap as at Willingham (Cattell’s Mill) and Pymore tower mill(1). The rack was on top. Four double-shuttered clockwise(2) patent sails were fitted.(3) There was an oak bearing for the windshaft; other wooden ones were at Ashley and Over(4). The shaft was round and 9” diameter at the head, 7” at the tail. The 8ft diameter brakewheel was of clasp arm type, with wood brake (Wailes(5) states it was in two horizontal segments, the upper of wood and the lower iron) and iron brake lever. The wooden upright shaft measured 13” square. Two pairs of stones, with wooden horses and hoppers, were underdriven. One had been removed; the nut of the surviving pair was 17” diameter, all-iron and put in and out of gear by jack ring and ratchet. An engine was installed in a nearby shed, driving the machinery via the usual external pulley.(6)   

(Date of Simmons’ visit was 6th September 1947)

(1) HESS, RW 19/4/1950

(2) RW 19/4/1950

(3) HESS

(4) RW 19/4/1950

(5) Ibid

(6) HESS


Post mill, standing today


This mill originally stood at Ellington, in former Huntingdonshire, and was moved to its present site in 1935 to replace a previous post mill which had decayed to the point of collapse. At Madingley it was not intended to be a working mill, but rather to serve a purely ornamental purpose. Also, whereas at Ellington it stood above a very high roundhouse and was winded by a fantail on the rear roof gable driving down to a curb it was reconstructed at the new site with a tailpole (ending in a small iron wheel); a single-storey roundhouse (though possessing a convex batter as the old one did); a lean-to porch over the buck door, which is reached by an external ladder (at Ellington access was by an internal one); and the stones mounted on a hurst frame in Midlands fashion. There is an upper floor where the bins would have been in a conventional post mill, and where the windshaft, brakewheel etc. are located and a combined stone/spout floor. As at Ellington a petticoat on the bottom of the buck serves as a roof for the roundhouse and the iron curb on top of the walls of the latter, on which the buck turns on six rollers fixed to its underside, has been retained. The original substructure and buck framing, dating from at least the eighteenth century, and machinery were happily retained. Although a little shaky, the mill has survived to the present day without needing major reconstruction, though an RSJ has had to be inserted in the upper face of the crowntree. The old timbers bear some fine carved inscriptions, including the initials of past millers. The main post is wonderfully gnarled and ancient-looking!

 Unusually the brakewheel is made of hornbeam, and has two concentric rings of applewood cogs which are staggered. It is almost solid with four straight cants. The wheel is mounted on a square on a wooden windshaft which is grooved towards the tail. The curved wooden brake lever appears to have been a replacement for an earlier one which now lies across the crowntree. There is spur gearing, the stones being underdriven and placed side-by-side on the hurst frame in the breast as reconstructed. The hurst frame structure incorporates the spouts from the stones, although these were never used. The wallower and upright shaft are iron, the great spur wheel iron mortice with six T-section arms. The wallower has two rows of staggered teeth like the brakewheel. The all-iron stone nuts, each with 30 cogs, were thrown out of gear by a chain rigger. A single governor, belt-driven from a solid wood disc on the upright shaft beside it, controls both pairs of stones. One of the damsels is of the “lantern” type.(1)

 The sack hoist/machine drive I found complicated and difficult to interpret. It seems the two were combined. The upper row of cogs on the brakewheel meshes with a four-armed toothed iron gear on a long iron layshaft extending to the rear roof gable, with a wooden framework in between, through which the layshaft passes, serving as support for the rear bearing of the sack hoist(?) bollard. On the rear end of the layshaft is a gear with four iron arms and a wood rim consisting of four straight cants. This is not cogged and presumably took a drive belt. Just before the wooden framework the layshaft carries first a solid wood drum and then a four-arm iron mortice gear which appears to serve no purpose. The solid wood drum is in contact with and operating on through friction another, larger one at the end of a wooden bollard which I took to be the machine drive shaft. The front end of the bollard is mounted in a horizontal timber spanning the bin floor behind the brakewheel and on top of which is the frame carrying the machine drive shaft. Wailes notes, “A spur pinion at the other end of the sack hoist shaft was engaged by a third pinion which was raised into gear with it, and which drove a wire machine by belt(2), but this does not quite tally with the apparatus as seen “on the ground”. It is possible Wailes is referring to the arrangement as it was at Ellington, before the move, and the layout was altered when the mill was reconstructed, or he is simply wrong. In any case, from what is observable today it seems rather that the sack hoist was raised into engagement with the machine drive and not the other way round. Mounted within an opening on the floor, being partly on the stone/spout floor, at the left rear is a wooden bollard, toothed and with a flanged section, which would have been the next stage of the machine drive. The flanged section would have received a belt from the final gear on the iron layshaft, and an intermediary shaft and gears then took the drive to the wire machine. There is a displaced all-iron gearwheel on the stone/spout floor. What appears to be the displaced reel of the wire machine is shown in front of the upright shaft in a photograph in R J de Little’s The Windmills Of England, but was not seen on my visit.

Survey carried out by G Blythman 10th May 2008

(1) RW 19/4/1950

(2) Ibid

The Cambridgeshire Archives holds a series of papers (374/21) on the mill by the Cambridgeshire Preservation Society which includes a detailed photographic survey of the 1935 rebuilding at Madingley.


Tower mill, standing today


This is a relatively late, “modern” mill, built in 1853  incorporating some machinery and timbers (the former including the windshaft and brakewheel and the latter the pine flooring) from a demolished smock mill, possibly the one which is known to have stood in the parish until shortly before this date. The work may have been carried out by William Rawlings of Cambridge, to whom parts of the fantail gearing can be attributed.(1)

 The small four-storey tower, 35ft to the curb(2), is of tarred brick with tall iron-framed lancet windows; the latter are a local feature, once to be seen on Swavesey and Arrington mills. Arrington also had the same kind of cap, which is like a truncated beehive in shape with a gallery and a flat top which at Over at any rate could be removed as required, serving as a maintenance hatch. There is a storm hatch above the neck bearing of the windshaft. The first four or five feet of the tower above ground level are vertical and may have been the base of the smock mill. Here the brickwork is of poorer quality than above. The ground floor is raised to allow loading straight from one or other of the entrance doors. The void under the floor houses an intake pit for the grain elevator(3).

 The mill ceased work around 1929 and was purchased in 1960 by Chris Wilson, a Yorkshire man who because of his love of windmills moved south to where they could be seen in greater numbers. He carried out a full restoration and over the years has continued to adapt and improve the mill; as well as producing flour from time to time, the machinery has on occasions been utilised to drive a bandsaw in an adjacent shed, via a belt going from the external pulley for the engine drive. He has modified it as many traditional windmills would have been had they remained in use into the modern era; it originally worked with four double-shuttered patent sails (which are clockwise), but of the present set one pair are single-sided, and fitted with Foc part leading boards on the outside of the stock, while the other have the outermost bay on their trailing sides stepped back to produce variations in the airflow over them. The mill is winded by an eight-bladed fantail whose support posts were originally stayed to the apex of the cap roof in the fashion typical of this region, here with iron ties. Striking is by rocking lever.

 The cap frame consists of breast beam, sprattle beam, tailbeam and sheers. The timbers seem original and old and must have come from the smock mill. An additional, second-hand timber with two empty mortices in it has been laid across the top of the sprattle beam to strengthen it. The sheers have had to be cut back to accommodate the brakewheel.

 The cap turns on a segmented iron curb which is in two layers, the truck wheels bearing against the upper. The wheels are mounted in large wooden blocks bolted to the undersides of the sheers. Only four appear to be provided, one on each sheer towards the end. The curb is partly live and partly dead, turning on a number of skid plates apart from two rollers under the breast beam. 

 The windshaft is of iron, with four ribs, and quite long since the tailbeam almost overlaps the curb. When the smock mill was being demolished and the windshaft and brakewheel were thrown to the ground the shaft fractured towards the tail bearing and a muff coupling is fitted to reinforce it. One of the arms of the brakewheel was also damaged, this being repaired using a fish plate. The windshaft is by Aickman of King’s Lynn like that of Thelnetham mill in Suffolk, and probably dates from c1830. The neck bearing was at one time of elm(4).

 The brakewheel mounting is boxed with four wooden planks. The wheel has a wooden rim, renewed some years ago, to which an iron cog ring is bolted, and six T-section iron arms radiating from an square iron central boss. The rim is iron-bound and a wooden brake is applied to it, the lever being unusually on the left-hand side. The brake rope passes around a flange on a large solid wood disc positioned vertically next to the brake hook between two vertical posts mounted on a timber nailed to the upper face of the left sheer behind the sprattle beam.


There are no windows. The sack trap is on the northwest, the stairwell on the northeast. Six anchor bolts, the two on the west side being at a lower level than the others, hold down the curb.

 The wallower consists of a wooden ring with two bevelled iron cog rings, an upper and a lower, bolted onto it. In one of relatively few examples of this kind of arrangement, the lower cog ring drives the sack hoist via a large four-armed all-iron bevelled pinion on a layshaft carrying a pair of belt drums. One drum is a large iron affair with six arms and the rim in two segments; from this the grain elevator could be driven. From the other, which is flanged, a belt travels to a large iron pulley with six curved spokes on the wooden bollard of the hoist. The latter is positioned on the north side in front of the brakewheel, mounted in the usual wooden frame. The bollard is raised to engage the first stage of the drive with the wallower.

 The top bearing of the iron upright shaft is located on the side face of the sprattle beam; that a section of the timber has been cut away next to it indicates that its position has been altered from what it was on the smock mill. The shaft is in two sections, united by a dog clutch on the bin floor; the upper is 4” in diameter, cylindrical and of wrought iron and the lower 5” square and of cast iron.  

 On the left of the floor towards the rear, behind the wallower, is the trunking for a grain elevator.


There is a window on the west side. The sack trap and the ladder to the dust floor are to the northwest. There is a large bin on the south side and a smaller one on the northeast to the right of the stairwell. Already referred to is the typical Cambridgeshire dog clutch, here with four jaws instead of the usual two, in the upright shaft just above floor level. On the east side is a large modern (that is, twentieth century) separator installed by the present owner. On the west are the modern bins that the spouts off the grain elevator discharge into.


There are windows at all four points of the compass, providing plenty of light. The stairwell and the ladder to the bin floor are on the northwest side. On the west is a large, impressive silk screen flour dresser by Robinson of Rochdale.

 There are two pairs of stones, on the north and south sides, in octagonal casings and complete with their furniture. In the north-west corner is a spare French stone. On the south side between the southern stones and the wall is a spout from the large bin above, which passes down through the floor. A chute from the north-east bin discharges into the hopper of the northern stones while that of the southern are fed by another chute off the twin legs of the grain elevator, with a control mechanism for directing the flow of meal.


The entrance doors are opposite each other on the east and west sides, and the two windows on the north and south. The ladder to the stone floor is on the northwest side. The ceiling seems to be a tangle of machinery, some of it installed by Chris Wilson since the restoration.

 The timbers of the H-frame supporting the upright shaft run north-south. The great spur wheel is all-iron with eight ribbed arms; above it on the shaft is a flanged wooden disc for the governor belt drive. The stone nuts are large and of iron mortice type. The spindles rest on iron bridge trees, that for the northern stones being Y-shaped, on wooden hangers between the main ceiling and H-frame beams. The northern stone nut is raised out of gear by jack ring and there appears to be provision for doing the same with the southern nut, but there the ring is missing.

 The governor is on the northwest side. Two steelyards run south-west from it to the links, one on the eastern main H-frame beam for the southern stones with a further link on the member  supporting the spindle of the southern auxiliary nut and the other for the northern pair on the western main H-frame beam with a connection to the northwest auxiliary drive. The steelyard for the southern stones is linked to the bridgetree indirectly via an intermediary iron bar. There is provision for hand tentering; on the northern stones the vertical rod descends from the bridge tree through an intermediary timber fixed between the main H-frame beams to end in a screw while on the southern manual adjustment is by handle, which is also used to raise and lower the jack ring for the stone nut, being incorporated in an X-shaped arrangement of rods and bars.

There are three auxiliary drives off the spur wheel:

(1) On the east side, an iron mortice nut on a vertical spindle on which a four-arm bevelled iron gear meshes with another on a north-south iron layshaft carrying two iron pulleys, the first large with six iron spokes, the second smaller. It was not clear to me what this apparatus drove.

(2) On the south side, an iron mortice nut on another spindle and then a pair of four-armed bevelled iron mortice gears to a north-south iron layshaft carrying a large iron pulley with six curved arms, from which a belt travels west to one of two pulleys on another north-south layshaft on the northwest side of the floor.

(3) On the northwest side, an iron mortice nut the upper bearing of whose spindle is located in a cheek piece bolted to the side face of the western main H-frame beam. On the spindle is a six-armed iron pulley from which a belt goes north-south to one of two pulleys on a layshaft mounted laterally between the main H-frame  timbers. This apparatus appears to drive or be driven by a dynamo.

It was installed by Chris Wilson and bears his name.

 A spout is located in the ceiling on the south side near the wall. There is an oat crusher on the north-east side with a chute discharging into it from the stone floor.

 The mill at one time had a bolter, but this has been removed as it was beyond repair(5).

Based on survey carried out by Guy Blythman on 26th June 2014 by kind permission of the owner of the mill, Chris Wilson

(1)    Guide pamphlet for SPAB day tour of Cambridgeshire mills,  

         2009; Rex Wailes 19/4/1950

(2-3) ditto

(4)    19/4/1950

(5)    As 1-3


Smock mill, gone


A large and roomy mill, with four storeys above a very low brick base and clad in vertical boarding. There was a gallery around the cap; the latter was winded by a six-bladed fantail on vertical staging. The four single-sided patent sails, with canvas shutters, came very near the ground. The machinery was mainly wood, exceptions being the stone nuts and the wallower cogs. The stones were overdriven; there were two pairs of greys, one 5ft in diameter and the other smaller, and one pair of 5ft French(1).(2)

(1) Mr H Cobbin to HESS

(2) HESS


Tower mill, standing today (tower only)


This mill had been given an additional (fourth) floor at some point, the new section being cylindrical and stepped out by several feet, giving a distinctive appearance. The diameter of the tower was 13ft 6in at the base and 10ft at the curb(1). The ogee cap turned on a dead curb, with the skid plates acting as centring wheels, and the drive from the fantail was split, going to pinions meshing with the (internal) rack on each side. Four double-shuttered clockwise patent sails were mounted on an octagonal(2) iron windshaft 9½” at the head and 8” at the tail. At 6ft 3in diameter the brakewheel was one of the smallest in the region. It was a clasp-arm, with curved cants held between the doubled arms, and with iron teeth bolted on. The brake and brake lever were iron. The sack hoist was of conventional type, with a 1ft 9in wood drum on a plain bollard, and driven from the 3ft 6in all-iron wallower, which had an unusually large square central boss hung on four arms on the upright shaft. The latter had a 12” square wood upper section, chamfered, and a 7” diameter iron lower one. The lower bearing was located in a cruciform iron casting bolted between the two main beams of the support frame. This was the smallest graft shaft in the region.(3) The 6ft double clasp-armed great spur wheel had iron teeth let into it, and an iron ring on its underside the purpose of which was not apparent. The ancillary machinery was presumably driven from the wooden crown wheel. Two pairs of stones, with wood horses and hoppers, were underdriven through 15” all-iron nuts. One tun was octagonal, the other round. The single governor was driven from a pulley at the bottom of the upright shaft. The bins were enclosed. The mill was a relatively small one, with not much space to move around inside.(4)

Smock mill, gone

There were three storeys. The brakewheel was wood and there were two pairs of stones, one peak and one burr.(5)

(1) RW 19/4/1950

(2) RW 19/4/1950; HESS says 16-sided

(3) HESS; RW 19/4/1950, 11/4/1956

(4) HESS, 6th September 1947

(5) HESS