Volunteers’ visit to Upminster Windmill
Stephen Lawlor reports on a visit to another windmill by a group of volunteers
On 11 November Brixton Windmill volunteers took a day trip to Upminster Windmill in Essex to explore the Grade II*-listed smock mill, meet some of their volunteers and learn a little about how they operate their open days and guided tours.
Upminster Windmill was built in 1803 and is an octagonal timber structure, housing four sets of millstones and a very complex system of machinery for grinding grain and grading meal. The impressive building is much larger than Brixton Windmill, as is much of the wind-powered machinery, such as the wallower, brake wheel and great spur wheel, which all help to power the stones.
The mill has four patent sails and a large fantail, containing six wooden vanes, which is used to automatically turn the cap so that the sails face the prevailing wind.
Like Brixton Windmill, during the 20th century Upminster Windmill was also home to a steam engine, which powered a further two pairs of millstones; however, this machinery was removed from the mill in the 1940s. Upminster Windmill ceased commercial production of flour in 1934, the same year as Brixton Windmill.
The Friends of Upminster Windmill are currently looking to raise the funds for a complete restoration of the mill, along with the construction of another building to house a gallery/museum and education space. You can read much more about the windmill, and see videos explaining the complex workings of the machinery, on their website.