Sussex Mills Group Web Site - Home Page
Sussex Windmills
Sussex Watermills
Sussex Windmills and Watermills Open to view
Sussex Mill Tours, Meetings, Lectures and other Events
Links to Mills in Sussex and further afield
Sussex Mills Group Contacts
Site Map of Sussex Mills Group Web Site
Sussex Mills Group
IL 1831
Sussex Mills Group
Sussex Mills Group
Sussex Mills Group
Sussex Mills Group
Sussex Mills Group
Sussex Mills Group
Sussex Mills Group
Sussex Mills Group
Sussex Mills Group
Sussex Mills Group
Sussex Mills Group
Sussex Mills Group
Sussex Mills Group
Sussex Mills Group
Sussex Mills Group
Sussex Mills Group
Sussex Mills Group
Sussex Mills Group
Sussex Mills Group
Sussex Mills Group
Sussex Mills Group
Sussex Mills Group
Sussex Mills Group
Sussex Mills Group
Sussex Mills Group
Sussex Mills Group Web Site - Home Page

Sussex Mills Group Web Site - Home Page

Site Map of Sussex Mills Group Web Site

In July 2009 Shipley Windmill closed to visitors.

 

Sussex Mills Group

The following descriptions were written before the mill closed in 2009



Outside Shipley Windmill
Inside Shipley Mill | History of Shipley Mill | Section through Shipley Mill


Introduction - Types of Mill
There are three kinds of windmill. The earliest of these is the post mill, which consists of a box-like structure of wood, containing all the machinery. This can be turned into the wind on a central upright post. 

Later came the tower mill,
which is built of brick or stone, except for the revolving cap on the top; and the smock mill, which is similar to the tower mill, but has wooden tower with six or eight sides, often on a brick base. 

Shipley is an eight-sided smock mill, so-called
because she is supposed to look like the old-fashioned farm labourer's smock.

 

 

Outside of the Mill
Before you start your visit, go outside and look up at the Mill. You can see that she is built on a brick base, which is two stories high. Above that there are three more stories of wooden tower, tapering towards the top. 

On the very top is the cap, perched like a hat on top of the wooden tower. The cap carries the sails, which in this part of the country are always known as sweeps. At the back of the cap is the fantail, another little windmill, set at right angles to the sails. The wind blowing against the sweeps causes them to rotate. 

For the Mill to work, it is necessary for the sweeps to be facing directly into the wind. To do this the whole cap must be turned. This is done automatically by the fantail. The fantail turns when the wind blows on it from one side, driving a series of gears, connecting to a worm which in turn mates with a toothed ring on the top of the smock tower, known as the curb. It is on this curb that the cap rests and turns. 

The cap has no wheels - it slides on greased iron plates on the top of the curb. 

The whole cap, together with the sweeps, fantail and gearing weighs about fourteen tons.

 

The Sweeps

The shuttered sweeps fitted to Shipley Mill are of the type known as Patent Sails. Invented by an engineer called William Cubitt in 1807, their big advantage is that they can be adjusted without the need to stop the Mill. 

Each of the four sweeps carries a set of shutters, which can be opened and closed like a Venetian blind, by the movement of the uplongs, long wooden rods to which the shutters are connected. At the centre of the four sweeps, the uplongs are coupled to the spider, which connects through links and triangles to the striking rod, an iron bar that goes right through the windshaft, which carries the sweeps.

At the back of the mill the striking rod connects to the chainwheel, from which is hung an endless chain, reaching down to the stage outside the second floor of the Mill. The striking weight is hung on this chain to hold the shutters either open or closed. The speed of the Mill can be regulated to some extent by altering the weight; a heavy weight will hold the shutters tightly closed in a light breeze, while a lighter weight can be used in a strong wind to allow the shutters to open slightly in the gusts. Ten to twelve turns per minute of the sweeps is a good speed for grinding.

 

Sussex Mills Group
 



Inside Shipley Windmill
Outside Shipley Mill | History of Shipley Mill | Section through Shipley Mill

 

Shipley mill has five floors. In order to see how she works, it is best to start at the top and work your way downwards. Climb up four flights, and you will reach the top of the Mill to start your tour.

 

The Bin Floor

The gearing in the cap of the millThe top floor of the smock tower is known as the bin floor, as around the floor are the bins into which the sacks of grain can be tipped, so that it can be fed into the millstones below. Above your head, you can see the cap, and the curb round which it slides to bring the sails into the wind. In the cap is the cast iron windshaft on which the sweeps turn. Mounted on the windshaft is the huge wooden gear known as the brakewheel, so called because round its rim is the wooden brake which is used to stop the mill. The brake is operated by the long iron brake lever, which can be raised by pulling the brake rope from the stage at the second floor level.


The brakewheel is fitted with wooden cogs
made of hornbeam, each one individually mortised into the rim of the wheel. These cogs mesh with a horizontal iron gear, known as the wallower. Most of the gearing in the mill is wood against iron, which is why the Mill is so quiet in operation that you will not hear her turning. The brakewheel cogs were renewed in 1990, as the old ones were showing signs of wear. The wallower is mounted on the top of the upright shaft, which is a 20ft long piece of oak, extending through the floor to drive the machinery below.

 

A volunteer mans the sack hoistThe Sack Hoist

Also on the bin floor is the mechanism for operating the sack hoist, which is used for bringing sacks of grain up to the top of the mill.

Pulling the rope raises the end of the hoist drum until the conical end
makes contact with the wooden cone under the wallower. The drum will then start to turn, winding up the hoist chain, and with it the sack of corn which has been fastened to its end.

The sack will push its way
through the traps on each floor until it reaches the bin, or dust floor, where the miller can detach it and pour the contents into the appropriate bin.

There are eight
bins on this floor - see how many you can find when you visit!

 

The Stone Floor

Go down the ladder, and you will reach the stone floor. Here you will see the millstones which do the actual grinding of the corn.

There are three pairs of millstones,
one of which is opened up so that you can see how it works. Each pair of millstones consists of a bedstone, which is stationary, and a runner stone, which rotates above it. The runner stone is driven from below, through gearing, and the grain is fed into the eye, the hole in its centre, from which it passes outwards, being ground between the faces of the stones.

The grinding is done by the
flat areas of the stones, which are picked with a series of small furrows or groves. The furrows serve to allow a current of air to pass through the stones, to keep the meal cool while it is being ground. 

The flour dressing machine makes white flourThe stones weigh up to three-quarters of a ton each, so
to lift them up there is the stone crane with its curved iron arms which fit into holes on the sides of the stones. The miller needed to raise the runner stone and turn it over every two to six months to re-cut the furrows in it. This is known as dressing the stones. To prevent the flour from spilling out, the stones are encased in a vat or tun.

The bell alarm is fitted onto the vat, to warn the
miller if he is running out of grain by ringing when the hopper above the stones is nearly empty. Also on this floor is the flour dresser, which consists of a wire mesh drum, inside which four brushes can rotate, forming a sort of giant rotary sieve, to separate the bran from the meal after it has been ground, producing white flour, semolina & bran.


 

The Meal Floor

The governor controls the gap between the millstonesGo down the ladder from the stone floor and you come to the meal floor. This is so called because the wholemeal from the stones arrives here down chutes from the millstones above, and falls into the bins where it can cool, fill sacks ready to take away, or be hoisted up to the bin floor to put through the dresser.



Look above your head - you can see the great spur
wheel, with its wooden teeth, which are made of hornbeam. It drives the millstones through the small gears, known as stone nuts, which can be raised to disengage them when the stones are not in use.

Here you can also see the governor, The smutter cleans the grain before millingwhich has two iron balls which swing out by centrifugal force as they turn, operating a series of levers which alter the gap between the stones.  As the mill speeds up, the governor will reduce the gap, counteracting the tendency of the runner stone to rise up as it runs faster, and ensuring that the quality of the flour remains constant.

If the mill is working, you will see the warm meal as it comes out from the end of
the chute into the meal bin. The oat crusher The miller feels this between his thumb and fingers, in order to test the quality of the flour he is producing, and will make adjustments if it is not entirely to his liking.

To one side of this floor is the smutter, for removing
the black spots of smut, a fungus disease which may grow on wheat grains if they get damp.  Above this is a sieve for getting rid of foreign bodies like grass, straw and poppy seeds from the grain. You can also see the big pulley, which brings the drive up to this floor of the mill from the engine below.



To the right of the
smutter is the oat crusher, which was used for producing crushed oats for animal feed. There is also a hand quern - a small pair of hand operated millstones from India, which can be turned by visitors so that they can see for themselves how they work, and produce flour. Querns like this are still made, and are still in use in many parts of the world.
 

The Stage

Now, take a walk round the stage outside. Take care, though, if the Mill is working, A volunteer closes the shutters with the weightas the sweeps come right down close to the stage. You will see the brake rope hanging down the back of the Mill, alongside the chain with the weight on it, which works the shutters of the sweeps. Look up at the back of the cap, where the fantail carriage sticks out. Under it, near the Mill, you will be able to see the worm, which drives the cap round.

Even if the fantail is working,
you will not see the cap moving from here, as it travels far too slowly - it takes at least three-quarters of an hour to do a half turn, with the fan going flat out!



When you have seen enough on the stage, you can
go back into the Mill, and down one more flight of steps. You arrive on the first floor, with its loading door, which was used to load and unload sacks from the carts which came to the Mill.

At the opposite side of this floor
are three compartments, now used only for storage. These served to contain the different grades of animal feeds which were produced from the three-layer jog-scry, or sieve above. This floor is now used for showing a video of the mill. If you did not see this before you went up, you may care to stop here and see it after your tour, as it should help you to understand the workings of the Mill more fully.



Leaving the first floor by the stairway, you once more arrive at the ground floor.
Look at the two big millstones which are leaning against the wall. You can clearly see the differences between the two types of stones - the one-piece peak stone from Derbyshire, and the French burr, quarried near Paris, which is made out of separate pieces of stone, cemented together and bound with an iron band.

The engine whioch will run the mill when there is no windThe metal bins on this floor are used for storing grain before it is raised by the sack hoist to feed into the millstones.



If you now cross the ground floor to the
door at the rear of the mill, you can go through to the engine shed, where you can see the engine, which will drive the mill on calm days. This engine, which came from a farm in West Chiltington, produces 17 horsepower, which is ample to drive a pair of millstones and other machinery on the floors above.



The far end of the engine shed was used as the
shop, where you have in the past been able to buy souvenirs of your visit to Shipley Windmill. Originally the engine shed housed a steam engine which drove the mill, but this was scrapped in the 1920s, when the mill ceased commercial work.

 

Sussex Mills Group



Section Through Shipley Windmill
Outside Shipley Mill | History of Shipley Mill | Inside Shipley Mill

  Please click on the blue letter buttons below to read more about parts of the mill

 


The Sweeps
The shuttered sweeps fitted to Shipley Mill are of the type known as Patent Sails. Invented by an engineer called William Cubitt in 1807, their big advantage is that they can be adjusted without the need to stop the Mill. 


Each of the four sweeps carries a set of shutters, which can be
opened and closed like a Venetian blind, by the movement of the uplongs, long wooden rods to which the shutters are connected. At the centre of the four sweeps, the uplongs are coupled to the spider, which connects through links and triangles to the striking rod, an iron bar that goes right through the windshaft which carries the sweeps. 


The speed of the Mill can be regulated to some
extent by altering the weight; a heavy weight will hold the shutters tightly closed in a light breeze, while a lighter weight can be used in a strong wind to allow the shutters to open slightly in the gusts. Ten to twelve turns per minute of the sweeps is a good.


The Windshaft
The iron shaft which carries the sweeps.  It has a hole through its centre for the striking rod which controls the shutters, allowing them to be opened and closed while the sweeps are turning.


The Brakewheel
Mounted on the windshaft is the huge wooden gear known as the brakewheel, so called because round its rim is the wooden brake which is used to stop the mill.

The brake
is operated by the long iron brake lever, which can be raised by pulling the brake rope from the stage at the second floor level. The brakewheel is fitted with wooden cogs made of hornbeam, each one individually morticed into the rim of the wheel.


The Wallower
The Wallower is a horizontal iron gear, mounted on the top of the upright shaft.


Most of the gearing in
the mill is wood against iron, which is why the Mill is so quiet in operation that you will not hear her turning.

 


The Upright Shaft
The upright shaft is a 20ft long length of oak, extending down through the centre of two floors to drive the machinery below.


The Great Spurwheel
The great spurwheel is fitted on the lower end of the upright shaft. It is made of iron, with separate wooden teeth which are made of hornbeam. 
It drives the millstones through the small gears,
known as stone nuts, which can be raised to disengage them when the stones are not in use.


The Stone Nuts
The great spurwheel drives the millstones through the small iron gears known as stone nuts, which can be raised on a screw to disengage them when the stones are not in use.


The Millstones
There are three pairs of millstones. Each pair of millstones comprises a bedstone, which remains stationary, and a runner stone, which rotates above it.

The runner stone is driven from below through gearing, and the grain is fed into the hole in its centre, known as the eye, from which it passes outwards, being ground between the faces of the stones.

The stones weigh up to three-quarters of a ton each, so to lift them there is a stone crane which has curved iron arms which fit into holes on the edges of the stones.


The Grain Chutes
The grain from the bins falls by gravity down the chutes into the hoppers above the millstones. From here it goes down the shoe, which is shaken by the damsel, into the eye of the millstone to be ground into meal.


The Meal Chutes
The wholemeal from the millstones falls down the the meal chutes into the bins where it can be allowed to cool, To fill sacks ready to take away, or be hoisted up to the bin floor to put through the dresser to produce white flour.


The Fantail
At the back of the cap is the fantail, which is like a giant version of those windmills on a stick that we all used to buy at the seaside. It is set at right angles to the sails, so that when the wind blows against the fantail blades from the side, it causes them to rotate, turning the cap of the mill until the sweeps are facing directly into the wind. 


The Cap
On the very top of the windmill is the cap, perched like a hat on top of the wooden tower.  The cap can be turned by the fantail to bring the sweeps of the mill into the wind so that they can turn.


The Striking Weight
The striking weight is hung on the chain which hangs from the chainwheel at the back of the mill. It operates the striking rod through a rack and pinion,
to control the speed of the mill. If the wind is too strong, the weight will be lifted by the wind pressure, opening the shutters and so slowing the mill.

Sussex Mills Group



History of Shipley Windmill
Outside Shipley Mill | Section through Shipley Mill | Inside Shipley Mill

 

Ernest PowellShipley windmill is the youngest and the largest windmill in Sussex.
She - for windmills are always female - has been known at different times as Shipley Mill, King's Mill, Vincent's Mill and Belloc's Mill. She was built in 1879 for Mr. Fred Marten by Mr. Grist, millwright of Horsham, a firm that had its premises on the corner of London Road and Springfield Road. 


It is interesting to note that the estimated cost of building the Mill was 800, although she actually cost 2,500.


Marten and his wife ran the Mill and the village stores and post office at Kings Land house until he died in 1884. After his death his widow Sarah put the house, shop and the Mill up for auction, but it was not sold, and she continued to run it, with Robert Wood as miller, until it was finally sold in 1895 to Richard Vincent. 


Vincent took on Ernest Powell to work for him as miller. In 1906 Kings Land, the mill and five acres of surrounding land were bought by writer Hilaire Belloc, who then leased the mill to Powell.


Powell continued to operate the Mill until the end of her active life in 1926. During the time she was in active work there were seven or eight other windmills within easy reach. These included Coolham, Cripplegate, Littleworth and West Chiltington. Shipley windmill in about 1900


The number of mills was no doubt due to the dependence on them by local farmers, and the limited range of the horse-drawn wagons used to deliver the corn and to collect the meal after grinding.
 


It is sometimes asked why windmills with their free power should have declined so rapidly in this country. There are probably several reasons. The introduction of motor vehicles allowed farmers to travel further afield, giving rise to bigger power-driven mills. The spread of small internal combustion engines later allowed them to do their own grinding reliably and economically. The increase in wages, too, made it difficult for millers to make their businesses pay without auxiliary power for the days when the wind did not blow.


This last problem did not, however, apply to Shipley Mill. In the shed alongside the Mill there stood a steam engine which, when in action, drove a belt connected to the Mill, so she could work on the days when there was no wind. Indeed, through the years from its construction until the end of the 1914-1918 war, Shipley Mill was always busy, and Mr. Powell was an active and experienced miller.

It was not until the war was over that custom began to slacken off. The renewed import of grain from overseas, leading to the expansion of the big roller mills, better provision of long-distance transport and the spread of electrically driven machinery, caused the windmills of the country to become less popular. Shipley Mill was no exception, in spite of Ernest Powell's efforts. By 1922 she had ceased regular working, and, although she operated spasmodically until 1926, her active life was over.

 

Between the two wars Mr. Belloc was at pains to preserve the fabric of the Mill, but when the Second World War came and for some years after it, no materials were available to keep her in repair. At the time of his death in 1953 much needed to be done to prevent the Mill from falling into ruin like many others throughout the country.



Following local initiatives, an appeal was launched to restore Shipley Mill as a memorial to Belloc. His many friends and admirers responded generously, and a local committee was formed, including Ernest Powell's son, Peter, who from his boyhood had loved the Mill and helped to work her. The committee also gained the support of the West Sussex County Council, who agreed to contribute towards the repairs and maintenance of the Mill, with the help of the admission charges paid by visitors. The repairs were carried out by the well-known firm of Sussex millwrights, Ernest Hole & Sons of Burgess Hill. On completion of the work, a memorial plaque designed by Edmond Warre, an old friend of Belloc's, was fitted above the entrance door to the Mill, and a grand opening was held in May 1958.



Volunteers continued to
open the Mill regularly to visitors each summer, and to operate her whenever possible until 1986, when it became clear that further major repairs would be necessary if the Mill was to continue to turn.



The County Council, realising that it would find it difficult to continue to
cover these costs, then agreed to set up a charitable trust to manage the Mill, in conjunction with the owner and other interested parties.
Accordingly, this was formed in
1987, and managed the Mill until the end of the lease.



The first priority was to have a survey to see the
extent of the repairs needed to restore the mill to full working order, and to raise the necessary money. They engaged a professional millwright, Vincent Pargeter, to carry this out. His report revealed that the necessary works were more extensive than had been envisaged, and, in 1987, would cost in the region of 160,000. However, thanks to substantial donations from the County Council and from Horsham District Council, together with a 40% grant from English Heritage, plus other generous donations both from individuals and grant-giving trusts, it proved possible to make an early start on the necessary works. After tenders had been received from several firms of millwrights, the local firm of Hole and Son was again engaged to carry out the work.

The Mill was re-opened, although with only a single pair of sweeps,
in July 1990, by the Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex. A year later, further grants and donations made it possible to complete the second pair of sweeps, and in May 1991, Shipley Mill was once again working in all her glory.



In 2000, English Heritage gave another grant towards the restoration
of the engine shed which is attached to the Mill, and by the end of that year the fabric of the building was completed. The new visitor centre was opened in the northern end in time for the 2001 season. /font>

 

Sussex Mills Group
 

Volunteers at Shipley Windmill

 
Shipley mill was run for 22 years entirely by volunteers until July 2009 when the Mill was handed back to her owners
 Gill is washing the sign at the entrance


The volunteers have been prepared to give up their own free time to help open the mill to visitors.  Volunteers have carried out such tasks as taking the money and selling souvenirs at the desk, as well as acting as guides on the various floors of the mill. A guide is showing the millstones to some visitors

With the aid of grants from English Heritage and a number of other local and National charities, the volunteers have helped with the restoration and the maintenance of the building, and have carried out such tasks as cleaning and painting, as well as repairs to the structure and restoration of the machinery.


Some jobs, like making and painting smaller parts, have been done by volunteers in their own home or workshop.
Jim on a ladder repairing  the sails

 

A small group of mainly retired members have worked on the timber structure each week throughout the year.  The last working party was held just before the windmill closed, on July 15th 2009.

Shipley Mill is Grade 2 star listed by Historic England, the listing being applied to particularly important buildings of more than special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them.

Sussex Mills Group
 



Jonathan Creek

   
Alan Davies and Caroline Quentin in front of the mill
 
Shipley Windmill is the fictional home of the hero of the BBC Television series Jonathan Creek.   The BBC filmed parts of 22 episodes at the mill.

The star of Jonathan Creek is comedian Alan Davies, who plays the eccentric inventor and sleuth, with Caroline Quentin and Julia Sawalha as his reporter sidekicks.

When the BBC comes to film they bring with them a team of around 40 people, with a fleet of vehicles; catering wagons, wardrobe, dressing rooms, toilets and generators, plus a vast quantity of equipment.

The mill is dressed both inside and out to fit the story-line.
The Meal Floor becomes Jonathan Creek's study, with plum-coloured walls and a matchboarded dado, and is filled with furniture and properties so that little of the mill can be seen.

The ground floor is turned into his kitchen, with pine dresser, sink unit, cooker and washing machine, with a farmhouse table in the centre. While the first floor becomes his bedroom, with a double bed flanked with Egyptian-style pillars.

Outside the mill is surrounded with foliage and other assorted properties, while scaffolding springs up and camera cranes swing about.

Shipley Windmill has also appeared in a number of other television programmes.  She doubled as Wimbledon Windmill in the comedy drama The Wimbledon Poisoner, and has featured in a number of programmes about the countryside.

 

Jonathan Creek

Creek's study on the second floor of the mill Jonathan Creek's Kitchen on the ground floor of the mill Jonathan Creek's bed in the mill

Jonathan Creek's Study

Jonathan's Kitchen

The Bedroom

Alan Davis and Carolyn Quentin at the well by the mill Alan and Carolyn in front of the mill Carolyn on her own by the mill

Alan Davies & Caroline Quentin 
by the Mill well

Alan Davies & Caroline Quentin 
by the Mill 

Caroline Quentin by the Mill

The camera swings in for a high shot Jonathan Creek The film crew in action at the mill
The Camera in Action   A high shot
Sussex Mills Group
 



Hilaire Belloc

 

Hilaire Belloc, the writer, poet politician and historian was born in France in 1870. His father was a lawyer and his mother was of Anglo-Irish descent.


After the death of his father, his mother moved to Slindon in Sussex, and sent her son to the Oratory school. From there he went to Balliol College, Oxford, gaining a first in history.
Portrait of Hilaire Belloc
In 1896 he married an Irish-American girl, Elodie Hogan, and he become a naturalised Englishman in 1902.


In 1905, he and Elodie bicycled to Shipley, and found the house, Kings Land. They decided at once to buy it, together with the mill cottage, the windmill and five acres of land.  (See History of Shipley Mill)


The Bellocs moved into the house in 1906, and Hilaire lived there until his death in 1953, about 40 years after his wife.  


Belloc served in Parliament as a Liberal MP for 4 years, from 1906 to 1910, when he resigned, disillusioned with politics. During his lifetime he wrote nearly 150 books, ranging from historical biographies to The Bad Child's Book of Beasts and Cautionary Tales for Children.