For many years the Mills Section of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings has organised National Mills Weekend (formerly "National Mills Day"), a celebration of Britain's milling heritage.
Wind and water are sustainable power sources, used for hundreds of years in Britain in the production of natural food.
There are currently more than 100 working mills capable of producing natural, stoneground flour and many of these will be open to the public during National Mills Weekend. In addition, over the weekend, a further 300 mills throughout the country will be welcoming visitors.
SPAB's Windmill Committee was formed in 1931 in response to an alarming decline in the numbers of the country's windmills. Later it included watermills within its interests, and it "encouraged the art of country milling". Still active today the SPAB is the only national amenity society dedicated to the protection of our milling heritage.
Some working mills are more than 300 years old yet still efficiently doing the job in the 21st century that they were built and designed for.
National Mills Weekend 2017 was held on
Saturday 13th & Sunday 14th May.
Some mills work as commercial businesses, while others are
run by enthusiastic volunteers. Fifty years ago, the windmills and
watermills of this country were thought to be in terminal decline,
but now there has been a renaissance in these wonderful reminders
of our past.
In Sussex, windmills and watermills have not only produced meal flour, but have made gunpowder as those at Battle, or pumped water like the Coultershaw Beam Pump that once pumped water into Petworth.
Many watermills in Sussex produced a variety of products such as linseed oil, cattle cake, oil dressed leather and drove fulling stocks for fulling wool.
Today in Sussex, most of those that have survived are those that produced meal flour.
The theme for 2017 was Engineers and Engineering - a way of celebrating the engineers and millwrights who built the local mills and their machinery, and the millwrights of today who continue this ancient craft.
A report of the 2017 event can be found here
Morris dancers at Stone Cross Windmill
Photo by David Jones
Open Day at Nutley Windmill : Photo by Nick Linazasoro
Is your Sussex Mill listed here ?
If not . . . . please click here
For further information, please visit the SPAB Mills Section website.
European Mill Heritage Days
In France, since 1995 there have been days especially dedicated to mills, their history, their techniques, their evolution, and the men and women who work to safeguard, restore and present them. Over time, these days have become less centred on mills as they have been associated with other themes.
Spurred on by many associations, the French Mill Federation (Fédération des Moulins de France), has renewed this tradition of specific mill heritage days in partnership with Moleriae, France Hydroélectricité and with the support of the town of Ferté-Sous-Jouarre, the millstone capital of the world.
So, on the third weekend of May, this event no longer competes with all the family, school and religious events of June. This date also avoids decrees forbidding sluice gate openings (which have become more and more frequent because of droughts). In 2007, this event took on a European dimension; several countries "celebrate" their mills during May. The "Mai des Moulins" (M.E.M) idea is expanding.
Developing the " Mai Européen des Moulins " concept
The French Mill Federation (FDMF) wishes to build links between European mill conservation groups.
Every year, from the 15th April, it publishes on its internet site: www.fdmf.fr, the European countries which celebrate their mills in May.
The French Mill Federation therefore proposes to collect events posters of each European participant and publish links directly to the web sites of the mills concerned.
A " Mai Européen des Moulins " concept is being considered. Countries which would like to participate in this committee are welcome to join us.
To appear on the European mill days site : http://www.journees-europeennes-des-moulins.org : Bridget Petit, Conseillère d'administration à la FDMF, chargée des Journées Européennes des Moulins et du Patrimoine Meulier
et des relations européennes, 6 résidence Marcel Paul, 34600 BEDARIEUX
To participate in the European Mill days committee : " Mai Européen des Moulins " :
Alain Eyquem, Président Fédération Des Moulins de France, 304 rue Pelleport, 33800 BORDEAUX
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