These days to see a working windmill you would probably have to travel to Tuxford in Nottingham shire or Whissendine near Oakham.
In a county that once boasted over 180 there are no working mills left. A few forlorn towers survive, dotted around the county to remind us of these once majestic symbols of rural life, but the majority of sites have been destroyed and can best be described as lost.
These are the subject of some research being carried out by Mark Temple, a volunteer on the National Trust talk service based at their arts and craft property, Stoneywell.
Although normally offering talks on the cottage and the Gimson family, last year Mark found himself being asked back to groups he had previously addressed requesting a second talk. His response was to pick up on some work he last explored over forty years ago at Loughborough University.
Back in the 70s he investigated ‘mill history’ as part of a library studies project. A large part of this new research has been sourcing images of windmills in the county record office and local library archives.
Surprisingly very few good images have survived although many mills were still standing up until the Great War, well within photographic memory.
Mark has had several conversations with Nigel Moon, miller at Whissendine and the leading authority on the county’s mills, who is encouraging Mark to update information that has come to light since the publication of his definitive book, “Leicestershire and Rutland Windmills” in 1981.
Even with Nigel’s help Mark says he is struggling to find information and images of the windmills in the following locations: Markfield, Hoton, Sileby, Eaton, Seagrave, Shearsby, Twyford, Desford, Shepshed (postmill), Saddington, Bottesford (Queens Mill not Scrimshaws), Barkestone (pre-house), Earl Shilton (Cooper’s), Oakham (Ashwell Road) and Barrowden. he knows that windmills featured in both the city and many local towns up until the late 1880s but few useable images have survived. He is even extending his remit to include locations from just over the county boundaries to places like East Leake, Gotham and Rempstone.
He would love to hear from anyone with stories about these or any other windmills.
Most of all he would be thrilled to hear of any windmill images that he could share with local groups in a slideshow.
l If you can help Mark with his windmill research, he can be contacted on 01509 890830 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org