Nicholson, of The Wind Engine Museum (Flegg) came to
talk to us in April. Showing remarkable
enthusiasm for this vital and iconic part of the local
landscape, she combined History and
Technology in a way that held the interest of even the
least engine-oriented among us. Here are
some feelings, and in the box below, some facts!
know that they are really wind pumps, but our visitors
like to call them windmills. They decorate
The Broads and help to draw in the tourists, but there
is more to a “windmill” than just a pretty
a journey down the River Thurne in 1950 you would have
discovered fifteen of them, in varying stages of
decay, having gone out of use just before and
after World War II. Thirteen of them are
still standing today - not a bad local record as,
across The Broads as a whole, only 70 of an original
250 have survived. With the valuable metals
and usable timbers stripped out, their empty shells
were left to the ravages of the elements, their
skeletal sails reaching sadly to the skies.
as records suggest that they existed back in the
1700s, they were still being built in the Twentieth
Century - Martham in 1908 and Horsey in 1911 are
modern examples. Some are still derelict,
some are now residences (they cost about the same as
an average detached house) and some have been restored
to their early glory. We are indeed fortunate that we
have the restored Horsey Mill so near, and there is no
more evocative sight than the sails
of Thurne Mill turning on a breezy
day. Their power is undeniable, whilst the
white brickwork hints at a ghostly reminder of all
those proud structures that have been allowed to die.
few wind pump facts
are three main types of wind pump:
Herring Fleet Mill -
early type with a tail pole which the poor old workers
had to use to wrench the sails round to face the wind.
Brick Tower Mills
- the most common, with a fan tail. That’s the
smaller sideways wheel that does the job
Skeleton Mill -
cheaper, and almost mobile, pylon-like structure. (We
are told that there was one of these in use near
Martham ferry whilst the brick-clay pits were dug).
Coots Mill (near Catfield) was built about 1830.
Its only 19 feet high and was the only local one with
grinding stones. It ground animal feed. So
it really was a windmill.
from humping the sails into the wind and opening and
closing wooden or canvass shutters on the wind vanes,
the whole wind and pump mechanism had to be greased
every four hours.
still have their “scoop wheels” in place - a water
wheel in reverse, moving the water up from cut
(drainage ditch) to river.
Mill at Waxham was built as early as 1787. It is
known as “The Randall Mill” as it was looked after in
the 1930s by the grandfather of Martham’s Paul
hardest thing to do is to stop the sails