Arty journeys...


Sunday, 2 October 2016

Shirley Windmill

It was the last Windmill open day of the year today. It's a while since I last visited and I felt I might be able to manage to get up all the steps to the top today.

The sky clouded over and it was quite chilly waiting for my tour to start.

I managed to catch a little bit of blue sky behind one of the sails.


From the other side. showing the fantail at the back. 

We had a fabulous guide. She was really informative and very good with the children, keeping us all involved and interested for the fascinating hour long tour.

Outside we heard about the difference between Post Mills and Tower Mills and discovered that although this mill is in Postmill Close it's not a Post Mill - it's a Tower Mill which was build in 1854 to replace the original Post Mill which was burnt down in a fire. It was one of the last Post Mills to be built in this country.

The first stairs were fine but I found it quite difficult getting up the rest - my knee didn't like it at all - but I wasn't going to let it beat me. At the top we could see up into the cap.

Huge cogs. 

Wooden teeth against metal teeth.

Through a little window high in the cap I could see the fantail and blue sky.

Wooden trolley. 

We heard how necessary a mill cat was to get rid of mice in the grain or flour.

Mill stones. 

More cogs. 

The underside of one of the two bottom mill stones (bed stones) which we'd seen on the floor above.

Cylindrical revolving sieve to remove the husks from the flour.

Sacks and pulleys. 

The guide telling us about the "governor" - "a set of spinning balls that use centrifugal force to act on levers to keep the gap between the grinding stones constant as the wind changes speed".(from the glossary of Windmill terms.)

I like the little wooden trap door which is used to stop the flour coming down the shoot when the sack is full.

Wooden knob with dowling peg. 

Three fabric chutes and three sacks. 

If I've remembered correctly these much smaller stones are an example of an illegal millstone. Before the peasants revolt it was illegal for people to mill their own grain, it had to go to the local mill owned by the landowner or the church and they had to give a percentage to pay for the privilege, so people secretly had little stones at home. Many of these were confiscated and used to make a floor in an abbey. During the peasants revolt they were liberated by the descendants of some of the people who they had been confiscated from.

The walls of the windmill look as if they have been recently whitewashed - the chalky surface rubs off on anything that touches it. My cardigan and bag were covered! It doesn't come off easily. 

Thank you very much for joining me. 


  1. What a fascinating tour! hope your knees are ok tomorrow!! Just got in from my weekend, photos downloaded but may not have the energy to do much else tonight!

    1. Thank you Helen. Looking forward to seeing your photos. I have no more energy - early night for me!

  2. Really interesting, and I love the shadows made by the sails on the brickwork. Hope you get the white chalky paint off of your cardigan and bag though!

    1. Thank you Cath. Yes I really liked the shadows of the sails. I can't emphasise enough how brilliant and interesting the guide was. The whitewash is off my cardigan but there are still traces on my bag. fortunately it is washable.