Moulton Windmill, Lincolnshire

I’m staying with my sister in Lincolnshire again, and as we had a free morning we decided to visit Moulton Windmill, somewhere I had not been before. We started off with a very nice coffee and walnut cake in the cafe, and then had a very interesting guided tour of the mill. Tony took us through the mill, clearly explaining the history of the mill, and the stages of its restoration. The tour took about an hour, and was fascinating, and most enjoyable.

Moulton Mill

Moulton Windmill is a brick-built tower mill, and at 100ft high is considered to be the tallest windmill in the United Kingdom, and one of the tallest in the world. It was built in 1822 by Robert King, and like many Lincolnshire windmills it has white-painted ogee cap – shaped like two shallow ‘s’ curves rather like an onion, and topped with a tall pointed finial. After being damaged by a severe gale in December 1894, the sails were removed and a steam engine was installed in the adjoining granary to power the mill, with a roller milling plant for processing animal feed. There are nine storeys, and on the elevated ground floor there is a separate miller’s office. The tower at the base is 28ft 9in, which narrows to 12ft at the curb, where the cap sits on a hexagonal wooden frame built into the brickwork, with an iron track to enable the cap and sails to turn into the wind.

A local restoration campaign was begun in about 1997, and in 2003 the mill was featured on BBC’s first series of ‘Restoration’. There were many fund-raising events, and a large Heritage Lottery Fund grant was won, so there was enough money to restore and refurbish the mill’s structure, build a shop and cafe, and fit a new ogee cap. The external reefing gallery 40ft above the ground was restored, and in November 2011 four new sails were finally added. In full working order again, in April 2013 the first bag of flour for more than 100 years was produced using the power of the wind.

Moulton Windmill, is situated between Spalding and Holbeach, about 4 miles from Springfield Shopping Outlet Centre, just off A151. It is open most days from 10am to 4pm, and some days there are grinding demonstrations – do check their website for details:  www.moultonwindmill.co.uk

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Looking up

We usually see the world from our own eye level. Children see a swathe of knees and trousers – a limited view, their eye-line often blocked. As an adult I see from a slightly more elevated level, and see faces and expressions. Go higher and our view extends even further, but the higher we get the more we tend to look down. I remember a couple of years ago looking down from the top of Old Dungeness Lighthouse in Kent, and last summer staring out across the Lincolnshire countryside from Sibsey Trader Windmill. Even with our feet firmly on the ground, we are always looking down – avoiding muddy puddles, wary of the broken paving stone that might trip us up. Consequently, unless we’re star-gazing, we rarely notice what is actually straight above us. When we do look up, what a different world we then can see; from clouds to skyscrapers, from the natural to the constructed. New perspectives, fresh patterns, surprising shapes and shadows. A new view of the familiar, and an unexpected view of the ordinary that makes it extraordinary. So take a moment to look up, and be surprised!

 

Sibsey Trader Windmill, Lincolnshire

Sibsey Trader Mill

During my summer visit to family in Lincolnshire I visited Sibsey Trader Windmill, just off the A16, 5 miles north of Boston. Unlike the traditional image of a four sailed windmill, Sibsey Trader Mill has six impressive sails, and is one of a very few six-sailed windmills still surviving in England. It has an unusually narrow tower, and although only 74 feet 3 inches to the top of the cap, standing in the flat, wide open Lincolnshire countryside, it gives the impression of being much bigger than it actually is. It was built in 1877, replacing an earlier post mill, and has six floors, and an interesting wrought iron balcony. The mill was working until the early 1950’s, but then fell into disrepair. In the 1960’s The Ministry of Works decided it was one of twelve windmills of national importance, and during the seventies it was taken into the care of the Department of the Environment, and restoration began. Now restored, and owned by English Heritage, it is fully working, with a complete gear, six huge sails and a fantail. Standing adjacent to the windmill are the Country Tea Rooms, which serve good but basic fare of sandwiches (made with their own bread), jacket potatoes, cakes and drinks.

It was a steep narrow climb up into the windmill, but we were rewarded with excellent views across the flat Lincolnshire countryside. The sails were creaking, and the floorboards were vibrating, although no actual milling was taking place, and every surface was filmed with a white dusting of flour. The Mill Shop is situated in the base floor, and it sells plenty of souvenirs, and a wide range of organic flours and other local produce.

If you’re in the area, Sibsey Trader Windmill is certainly worth a visit, but do check the opening times on their website: http://www.sibseytraderwindmill.co.uk/

Heckington Windmill and 8 Sail Brewery

When I say that I visited a windmill yesterday, I’m sure you will immediately picture a tall wooden tower with four sails, but Heckington Windmill in Lincolnshire, has eight. Towering over the village, Heckington Windmill is the only surviving eight-sailed windmill in Western Europe, and it looks quite magnificent. It was originally built in 1830 as a five-sailed windmill, but after a severe storm blew the cap and sails off in 1892, it was repaired with eight sails salvaged from a windmill down the road in Boston. In 2010, with seven of the eight sails in dire need of repair, the mill had to stop working, until thankfully in 2013, it was awarded a Heritage Lottery grant. Now all eight sails have been replaced, and an extensive regeneration project has been initiated, including a proposed new visitor centre, and reinstating the old bakehouse.
Heckington windmill

Next door to the windmill is the 8 Sail Brewery (immediately to the right of the windmill in the picture above).  Brewing was actually taking place as we arrived, and the warm, moist aroma of malt and brewing pervaded the whole building. In between the strictly timed addition and stirring in of the hops, Tony showed us around, clearly explaining the brewing processes. The brewery, with a 6 barrel brew plant, was set up in 2010, in the old sack and grain store next to the Windmill. It produces about a dozen different craft beers, including Bramling, Millstone, Black Widow, and of course, 8 Sail Ale, using English ingredients, including locally grown barley. Up until now, barley has been purchased ready to use from the maltsters, but within the next few days the windmill next door will begin milling all the barley needed by the brewery. Dried hops are usually added, but just as we arrived, a sack of green hops from Herefordshire was being tipped into one of the barrels. (Green, or fresh hops, need to be used within 36 hours of picking!) When Tony had given the barrel a good stir, I climbed the ladder and peered into the swirling mass, and a pungent cloud of steam engulfed me! After being shown around so well, I felt it would be very rude not to buy any beers 🙂 So I came away with a bottle each of Damson Porter, Gee, John Barleycorn and Flour Power – I’ll let you know which one I like best!

For more info about Heckington Windmill: http://www.heckingtonwindmill.org.uk

For more info about 8 Sail Brewery: http://www.8sailbrewery.co.uk

Windmills

If I told you that I had visited a windmill while I was on holiday, I’m absolutely sure that you would immediately picture a tall wooden, or wooden and brick tower with four sails, and you would usually be correct.  But if you visit Heckington in Lincolnshire, you would have to imagine a windmill with double that number of sails.  Towering over the village, Heckington Windmill is the last standing windmill in England (and probably in Western Europe), that has eight sails, and it looks quite magnificent.  Down the road a few miles in Boston is the Maud Foster Windmill, but that has only five sails.  Sibsey Trader Windmill, and Alford Windmill, again in Lincolnshire each have six sails.  So next time you hear someone say ‘windmill’ don’t just conjure up that old traditional image, and assume it has four sails, because it might have a few more than that!