A Short History of  Pilling Windmill : 1808 - 2007

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Also see the 'Capping the mill' section.

 

Damside mill in Pilling was built to replace a wooden post mill. It was 6 storeys high standing 73 feet with a second storey reefing stage and 4 sets of 6 foot mill stones. It was built in 1808 by Ralph Slate (Rs1808 can be seen on a beam in the mill) reputedly in 21 days. Ralph Slater also built Clifton and Thornton Mills. It was built on a reed bed and has a lower course of sandstone which is surmounted by bricks. It is 30 foot in diameter at the base tapering to 17 feet at the curb.

 

It had two double shuttered sails and two common sails that turned in anti-clockwise direction. The mill was the tallest in the Fylde and has breath taking views over the Fylde to the Lake District and the Pennines. Allen Clarke said in his book “Windmill Land” that it had the best of all the views in the Fylde Windmills.

 

  Earliest picture c1886      Cast iron wind shaft & cross        Shippon & kiln hill, 1930's     A state of disrepair, 1958

 

It was converted to steam power in 1886. For a while the upper stones could be worked by wind and the lower ones by steam. There was also a water wheel at the side of the mill. In 1887 the sails and original cap were removed. There is a story that the sails and revolving cap were blown off, but this is unlikely. The sails, cap and staging were probably removed due to storm damage. A low pitched corrugated iron roof was put over the cap frame and the cast iron wind shaft and cross were left in place.

 

The mill had two upright shafts and two great spur wheels (one of which remains) to drive each of the two sets of stones on the different floors. The stones were very large – one is 6 feet in diameter. The original drying kiln was attached to the southern side of the mill, but later a detached kiln which belonged to the adjacent water mill was used. The photograph above (3rd from left) shows the shippon and the kiln hill in the 1930’s. The chimney for the engine house which provided the steam is in the background.

 

The mill had ceased working by the 1940's and fell into disrepair. It was used to house cattle and trees sprouted from the roof (above, far right).

 

Mill workings removed, 1962    Remaining spur wheel                Mill in 2006                  Topping the mill, Feb 2007

 

In November 1962 the mill’s workings were all removed and the corrugated iron cap was taken off. The school children turned out to watch.

 

The mill was then turned into a residence. Check out the  souvenir flyer of the mill for sale in 1975. The conversion included original millstones in the floor and in garden. The front and back door were made from the wooden drive shaft. The photo above shows the remaining spur wheel.

 

In February 2007 the mill was restored with a traditional "Lancashire boat top" cap by the owners Nick and Catherine Edwards. The skyline now looks as it did over 100 years ago. This memorable day in the history of the Pilling windmill has been recorded in a series of photos, and can be seen here

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