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Published on April 27th, 2024

Windmills have a fascinating history in Britain, and certainly make for a stunning photograph!

Today we bring you a special selection of nostalgic photographs of windmills from the Frith archive, dating back to 1893. To see many more photographs of windmills within The Francis Frith Collection, simply write the word 'windmill' into the Search box, and enjoy!

This photograph from 1906 shows the pair of windmills which used to stand on Outwood Common in Surrey: a post mill on the left, with four double-shuttered spring sails and a roundhouse protecting the trestle, and also a tall smock mill on the right, so called because of its resemblance to a countryman’s garment. The smock mill became derelict and collapsed in 1960. The post mill, which was built in 1665, still survives in working order and is the oldest working post mill windmill in Britain. Listed Grade I, it is privately owned and is open to visitors.

Photo: Outwood, The Windmills 1906.

The mill stands on Wray Common, a brick tower mill with four patent sails winded by a fantail; it was built in 1824 and ceased work in about 1895. The scene shown in the photograph is still recognisable today. The mill has been converted into to a private house.

Photo: Reigate, Wray Common, Windmill 1893.

The white windmill, built by Richard Cookson in 1805, was in working order until 1918, when the fire damaged it. Horse-drawn carts stopped to collect sacks of flour to transport to Cookson's bakery and other places. Part of this mill's old machinery was transferred to the windmill at Wrea Green. In the late 20th century new sails were fitted by the experts the Gillatt brothers, and the interior now has a pictorial history of the mill and many relevant artefacts.

Photo: Lytham, The Windmill And Lifeboat Station c.1955.

The Broads have been called the pleasure grounds of Norfolk; they are the remains of a huge estuary that once spread over much of the eastern part of the county. No one is completely certain as to their origin, but it is believed that they are the result of medieval peat workings. At Acle, on the river Bure, wherries and sailing craft glide by under the old bridge, their masts lowered. Here an 18th-century Oby drainage windmill near Acle wheezily turns its battered sails. The mill was built in 1753 and is the oldest standing windmill in the Broads, although now derelict.

Photo: Acle, Oby Drainage Windmill c.1929.

The Windmill, Argos Hill c1955. This fine post mill of 1835 still tops Argos Hill. It has the Sussex tailpost fan-tackle seen on the famous Sussex post mills (eg, Jill windmill, Clayton near Pyecombe). It survived World War I (when demolition was considered, as it was a good landmark for German Zeppelins) and worked until 1927. This picture shows it semi-derelict, but it has since been restored.

Photo: Mayfield, The Windmill, Argos Hill c.1955.

Photo: The Broads, Hunsett Mill On The River Ant At Stalham c.1925.

This is a typical Nottinghamshire brick tower mill, tall and black-tarred. The photograph shows the mill in full working order. It was built in 1825, and ceased work by wind in about 1930 and by engine in 1940; the cap was removed in 1934. It was painted by the artist Karl Wood in 1931 in a derelict condition; it is now converted to a private house.

Photo: Sutton-on-Trent, The Mill And Mill House 1909.

This small historic black-tarred weatherboarded post mill with an open trestle is powered by two common and two spring sails, and is turned to the wind manually by a tail pole. Dated 1636, it ceased work in 1925. Owned by the Cambridge Preservation Society, it is preserved complete, and is open to visitors.

Photo: Bourn, Windmill c.1955.

Marsh Windmill is a large Fylde-type brick tower mill with four patent shuttered sails and a fantail. Dated 1794, it worked until 1922. The picture shows the mill in a disused condition before restoration work began. It is now conserved complete, and is open to visitors as part of a craft workshops site.

Photo: Thornton Cleveleys, Marsh Mill c.1955.

This scene is worthy of a painting; it shows a typical windpump used to drain the reclaimed marshes. The reeds and rushes have grown high, and this area is famous for white water lilies, orchids and other flora which are in danger of extinction thanks to grazing animals. The family in the boat are enjoying sailing on a light breeze, and the boy on the bank is fishing, probably for tench, although eel catching is more popular.

Photo: Stalham, Hunsett Mill c.1933.

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