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South Holland Windmills

This post is an extract from Lincolnshire Windmills a contemporary survey by Peter Dolman. It was published by Lincolnshire County Council in the mid 1980’s. Is there a windmill expert who can update it?

Windmills of South Holland Area
Cowbit TF265179 1972, 1983

Erected in 1798 as a short, well ‘battered’ mill, this tower mill was later raised by another floor, resulting in a rather pleasing concave tower which survives today. This work may have been carried out shortly before 1815, when it is described as being ‘newly built’, although such statements should be carefully vetted as auctioneers can be rather over generous in their descriptions of property, then as now! It worked by wind until the mid 1930’s and then continued by engine, and finally by electric motor until 1969 when it closed down, subsequently being gutted of all machinery. The original gear had been taken out many years previously. Four patent sails drove three pairs of stones, two grey and one French. The tower is in good condition and is used for storage.
Crowland TF236101 1971

Probably dating from the late 18th century this small tower mill is thought to have ceased work about 1900. Postcards of the Edwardian era show it to be a three storeyed tower, already without its cap. No details of its equipment have come to light to far audit has been used as a house for many years. The two storeyed stump remains, with a house built onto one side.

Donington TF218349

Baxter’s Mill 1977 This tower mill was standing by 1819 and possibly dates from the 18th century. The sails were removed in 1913 and the mill was then dismantled. It had two common and two spring shuttered sails, which drove two pairs of stones. The tower has been shortened to three storeys in height and has a conical roof. It is used as a store.
Gedney Dyke TF416262 1977 int., 1985

In its prime this was one of the most elegant mills in Lincolnshire. It is dated C.I.R. 1836 and was built for a Mr. Rubbins. It worked until 1942 and lost its six patent sails in 1947. The cap followed soon after and it now stands disused but still in reasonable condition, with most machinery intact. It is very tall, being 68 feet high to the curb, with eight floors. There was a stage at second floor level, and the four pairs of stones remain on the third floor, two French and two grey.

Gedney Hill TF3341I6 1977

This tower mill was standing by 1824, and worked by wind until the hire 1920’s, when the sails were taken off. It was worked by engine until at least the late 1940’s, although the cap and top storey had been removed by this time. It is now converted into a house, and has lost all its machinery. There were four patent sails, which drove three pairs of stones.

Gosberton TF221301 Risegate 1977 int

This small tower mill was ‘newly erected’ in 1824 from which we can assume an early 19th century date. Al this time it bade pair of grey and a pair of ‘Blue’ stones. It was raised and refitted ‘lately’ in 1853. Rex Wailes gives the date 1840 which is probably the actual date of the rebuild. It worked by wind until 1911 when it was dismantled and altered to its present form. The sails were taken to Helpringham mill, and were patents. Risegate mill in one of only two mills in the county in an unrestored state which retain their windshaft and cross. The cross has lost one of its four arms basis nevertheless of interest, being mounted on the square end of the windshaft with 8 pairs of keys. The original cap has been replaced by a corrugated iron version, similar to the one on Moulton mill. The tower has been gutted and turned into a silo, with a Christy & Norris vertical grinding mill and Bamford crusher on the ground floor, both now disused. The cap frame and windshaft, being such rare survivors, deserve further description. The frame runs on a dead curb, as usual, with the teeth on the upper face outside the track. The neck bearing is outside the cap, the rode baulk being completely exposed. The iron windshaft is 8 inches square across flats at the brakewheel and 9inches diameter at the neck. The brake brakewheel has an iron ‘spider’ (hub and arms) in one piece, with a wooden rim of 7ft 6in. diameter. An iron tooth ring was bolted on but is now missing. The brake is also of wood and has an exceptionally heavy brake lever. The striking gear at the tail ran on wheels on two guide bars, and had two connecting links to the striking lever.

Holbeach TF358267 Penny Hill 1972, 1983 int., 1985
This tower mill was built in 1826-7 on the site of a smock mill. It originally had four patent sails driving three pairs of stones but in the late 19th century was raised in height by one storey and re-equipped with six patent sails and four pairs of stones. It worked until the late 1930’s or early 1940’s, latterly on only four sails. By 1953 it had been dismantled and it now stands disused and rapidly falling into decay, there being no roof at present. All the machinery has been removed. Pieces of sails can be seen incorporated into some of the adjoining out-buildings.

Long Sutton TF440221 Brunswick Mill 1971, 1977, 1985

This rather sad-looking tower mill was until quite recently one of the ‘best’ derelict mills in
the county. It was built in 1817 when it had four sails and was about five storeys high. In the mid 19th century it was raised in height by another floor, this being done so well that it is hard to tell the later work from the original. It was refitted with sit patent sails, which drove three pairs of stones (originally two French and one grey, but later two grey and one French). It ceased work in the 1930’s and was then allowed to remain derelict and disused. The cap was blown off c.1963 and following an occasion when the sails rotated in a gale, shedding pieces of wood as they went, the owner removed the sails, windshaft and cap frame by crane on 15 August 1973. It had once been hoped to restore the will but the scrap value of the iron machinery proved irresistable and most went lobe melted down in the furnaces at Scunthorpe. The sails and cap frame were burned in a huge bonfire and the now decrepit tower has been left to decay, still containing some of its machinery. This was the most recent of many such acts of vandalism in the cause of ‘safety’ and. hopefully in these more enlightened times will be the last In the county. The loss of a mill as outwardly complete as this is regretable to say the least, but it must be said that by 1971 the cap frame and sails were, on close inspection, beyond repair, making any restoration a costly affair.

Long Sutton TF438228 Harrison’s Mill 1971, 1985

This tower mill was built for Charles Treffitt in 1843 and thanks to a local man’s diary we know when construction began lathe day, namely 17 February. It worked until the 1920’s by wind after which it ran by engine for a number of years. The six sails were taken off in the 1930’s and were reputedly put on Brunswick mill. It was eventually gutted for its ironwork and abandoned to its fate. It now stands disused and derelict with most of the floors in place. The present owners hope to conserve it and if possible to improve it. All that remains of the machinery is the wooden upper upright shaft together with bits and pieces of teetering gear and the remains of a burst on the ground floor. It had six patent sails driving three pairs of stones on the first floor. It is said to have ended its days with five pairs of stones, but where the other two were is now difficult to establish; possibly the ground floor hurst had two pairs.

Lutton TF436243 Lytton Cowls, Sneath’s Mill 1971 int.. 1982 int., 1985.

The oldest complete tower mill in the county, this mill is dated ‘T.D. Ayliff 1779’ on a large stone, said to have been a sundial. The mill is like no other left in the county and resembles a brick-built smock mill, even to the extent of being octagonal in plan. It worked until the early 1930’s and was then abandoned. Attempts were made in 1939 to secure its preservation but unfortunately the war intervened and nothing was ever done. By 1971 only part of one sail remained and the cap was missing. The decay has since accelerated sharply; the sail has gone and the cap frame is breaking up while the floors are ready to collapse. Attempts are being made to at le.t conserve what remains and in late 1985 some of the parts were removed by crane as a prelude to restoration by Long Sutton Civic Trust. The mill has a wooden wind-shaft with an iron poll end and clasp arm brakewheel. The clasp arm wallower is cogged in a very crude and old-fashioned manner, being a ‘trundle’ or face gear wheel. All the upper machinery has suffered badly from exposure to the elements. The upright shaft is wooden, with a clasp arm great spur wheel. The stone nuts, stones and teetering gear are all missing, but two pairs were fitted, one French and one grey. The drive to the flour dresser is largely intact and is mostly of wood, driven by a pinion from the great spur wheel. The machine itself is also missing. One millstone remains where it fell, on the ground floor. The mill had a simple cap with triangular gables and a straight ridge, turned to wind by means of a braced tailpole and winch. A weathercock was fitted above the rear gable. The sails were carried on stocks and comprised a pair of common and a pair of spring shuttered sails.

Click here to read more about this mill and the ongoing restoration.

Moulton TF307240 1972, 1977 int., 1982 int.

This colossal tower mill has the distinction of being the largest surviving windmill not only in Lincolnshire, but in the whole country. It cannot claim to be the largest complete windmill, that honour falling to Sutton mill in Norfolk, which is 80 feet high to the top of its cap. Moulton mill however is 80 feet high to the curb and was originally about 97 feet high to the top of its ogee cap. It was built in about 1822 by Robert King. The sails were removed in 1895 after gale damage, when a steam mill with a two sack Turner roller milting plant was installed in the adjoining granary, steam power also being applied to the original stones. Serious milling ceased many years ago although a small roller mill and kibbler probably see occasional use. The main use of the mill now is as a store in connection with the grain merchant’s business of Mr. Biggadike, whose family have owned the mill since 1924.
The tower is 28 feet 9 inches in diameter at ground level and 12 feet diameter at the curb, both internally. The basement contains the engine drive gearing which then ascends to the great spur wheel by way of a vertical shaft. The elevated ground floor is spacious enough to contain a proper partitioned miller’s office. The first floor contains a Turner ‘Inkoos’ mill (or kibbler) and Hunt’s roller mill, both electrically powered. The second floor has large storage bins. The third floor was the spout floor; unfortunately the governor has gone. Access to the reeling stage, now missing, was formerly at this level; the two door openings have been partly bricked up. The three pairs of stones are on the fourth floor. Two pairs of French stones remain in place with their vats; one pair are 4’6″ and one pair are 4’4″, the latter having the plate around the eye W.J.&T.CHILD.MAKER.HULL.1853′. The pair of grey stones are 4’8″ diameter and have been taken up, now leaning against the wall.
The spur gearing differs from the usual Lincolnshire pattern in that the stone nuts are all iron, the great spur wheel having morticed wooden cogs. This arrangement is fine until a breakage, when the job of re-cogging would take several weeks. The spur wheel has an iron hub and rim, with eight radial wooden spokes. The cogs are of very fine pitch and are very wide, which must have given a very smooth drive. The engine drive engages the spur wheel by means of another small iron nut. The nuts are 12 inches in diameter and the great spur wheel is 8’9″ in diameter.
The fifth and sixth floors both contain bins, the seventh is empty and eighth is the dust floor. The wallower is an impressive wooden clasp-arm bevel wheel of about 6 feet in diameter with wooden cogs. A friction rim on the underside formerly drove the endless chain sack hoist, now displaced in favour of an electric hoist. The upright shaft is of wood and is 14 inches square. It changes to iron of 5½ inches diameter just above the spur wheel. 23 The curb is a hexagonal wooden frame built into the brickwork, with an iron track and an inward facing tooth ring, beneath which the centring wheels run. The cap frame is in poor condition but survives mostly intact apart from where the sheertrees have been cut off beyond the new roof (fitted in 1928 to replace the old ogee cap). The windshaft has gone but the tail bearing housing remains, as does the hand winding gear. Parts of the brakewheel also remain in the basement.
The mill had four double sided patent sails, which unusually for Lincolnshire were carried on stocks ma poll end. The fanstage was of the typical local type with the rear fly posts almost vertical. Apart from the loss of its windshaft and original roof, the mill is remarkably complete and is well cared for at present. It is certainly a viable candidate for full restoration, but whether or not this can ever be achieved remains to be seen.

The Mill has now been restored and open to the public. Link to website click here
Moulton TF294182 Moulton Chapel 1973, 1983 int.

Built in 1865 to replace a post mill, this tower mill worked until about 1930 by wind and then by engine for a number of years. The sails were taken off in about 1938 after gale damage and it was later largely dismantled. It was driven by electricity in the 1950’s but eventually went into disuse. It is now undergoing gradual house conversion by its owner. The only gear to survive is one pair of grey stones, with the stone nut replaced by a pulley. There were two pairs of grey stones and one pair of French stones, together with another pair of grey stones on a ground floor hurst, engine-powered. The tower has lost about 4 feet in height but still contains all the floors and it is in these that most of the mill’s interest lies. The fourth floor beams are the tarred oak sheers of the old post mill, with clear wear marks visible where the post and collar rubbed; the fifth floor beams are cut from an old stock, still with its white paint on

Pinchbeck TF227260 Northgate Mill 1977

Built in 1848 to replace a post mill, this tower mill worked until 1922 by wind, carrying on by engine for a number of years afterwards. It was gutted in the mid 1930’s and is now used for storage in connection with the modern mill in the adjacent buildings. It had four patent sails and drove four pairs of stones.

Pinchbeck TF206252 Glenside 1977

This little tower mill is dated ‘R.T.1812’ and was built using the principal gearing from an old marsh mill in Bourne Fen. It was raised by another storey at some stage and worked by wind until 1931. The last pair of sails were damaged by a gale and were removed in 1932 or 3. It was dismantled c.1945, continuing to work using modern milling machinery driven by engine. It remained in use until the late 1970’s. There were four spring sails mounted on stocks in a poll end, which drove two pairs of stones. The tower has developed a serious lean over the years and one side is now almost vertical.
Spalding TF234201 Spalding Common 1977

Built in about 1816, this tower mill worked by wind until 1934. The sails were taken off in 1939 and the upper part of the mill was taken down in 1943, leaving the two storeyed stump which is now in rather derelict condition. There were four patent sails driving the two pairs of French and one pair of grey stones. The cap, like other mills in the area, was particularly bulbous and the tower had a very pronounced lean, another common feature of Fenland mills!

Sutton St. James TF38919I Ives Cross Mill 1972, 1983 int.

Da ted `W.E.R.1828′, this small mill worked by wind until about 1923 and then continued by engine with the cap removed and a simple flat roof on the curb. In this form it probably worked until the 1950’s or even into the 60’s and may have produced flour for the associated bakery until quite late. It is now disused and following the collapse of part of the roof is becoming very derelict internally which is a shame as it is one of the most complete mills in the county. It was driven by four single sided patent sails mounted on stocks in a poll end. When the sails were removed the stocks were made into four large gate posts to the mill yard which still survive. Many of the floor beams and joists appear lobe re-used, one having been a shaft at one time and the dust floor beams having a curve and many redundant mortices. Several common sail whips can also be seen. As no mill is shown here on the 1824 0.S. map, these pieces may have come from elsewhere.
There are three pairs of stones, one of grey and two of French. One of the pairs of French stones has a reciprocating sieve (or ‘jumper’) fed directly by the spout and driven by the spindle to produce a wheatmeal flour from the wholemeal. The great spur wheel is of iron and drives through mortice nuts. The engine drive also engages by means of a mortice nut on the spur wheel, with bevel wheels under the ground floor leading to an external pulley, which is unusually of wooden construction, As a steady speed could be maintained by the engine the governor was dispensed with. An ancillary drive was taken from an iron tooth ring under the spur wheel but the shafts and machines which it once drove (probably a flour dresser and oat roller) have gone. The upright shaft is of iron with a wooden upper section as is often the case in the county and has an iron wallower. The sack hoist is driven by a wooden ring under the wallower and the top bearing is mounted on one of the old sheer-trees, which also formed the ridge of the roof. All the floors are now ruinous although the machinery has remained in good condition.

Whaplode TF308123 Shepeau Stow 1977, 1978, 1983

There was a tower mill on this site with two pairs of stones in 1800 and in 1837 it was described as being ‘old-established’. It may well be an eighteenth century mill although the upper part of the tower looks newer than the bottom to me. The machinery is principally of wood however, with a clasp arm great spur wheel. Work ceased in the early 1920’s when a sail was lost but continued with an engine to a hurst for many years. The cap was off by 1935 and in the absence of a proper roof it has become a ruin, with most of the floors collapsed. Power came from four patent sails carried on stocks and two pairs of stones were driven, one French and one grey, together with a further pair of grey stones on a ground floor hurst. Most of the lower machinery is believed to remain, albeit in very poor condition.

Some Bygones Mills
The following windmills have all disappeared since the 1930’s.
Deeping St James TF 156099
Very stoutly built stone tower mill, demolished 1960’s
Donington TF 204355 Ripons Mill.
Five sail tower mill; stump pulled down in early 1960’s
Gedney TF 464294 Gedney Drove End.
Small tower mill, derelict in 1930’s gone by 1953
Gosberton TF 204297
Small tower mill; derelict in 1950’s gone by late 1970’s
Holbeach TF 364240 Damgate Mill
Tower Mill dated 1816, raised 1867, ceased work 1944, demolished in 1960’s. In 1982 the foundations and several milestones are visible.
Holbeach TF 359224 Tindall’s Mill
Large eight sail tower mill, built in 1828. Three storeyed base remaining in 1953, incorporated into modern power mill. By late 1970’s had gone, modern mill buildings on site.
Spalding TF 234211 Little London
Narrow tower mill; ceased work 1944, demolished 1948.


Lincolnshire County Council


Windmills of Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire Mill Group

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Moulton Mill in 1972