Bourn Windmill is an open trestle post mill at Bourn in Cambridgeshire, England, which was standing in 1636. It is a Grade I Listed building and a Scheduled Monument. It is the oldest surviving windmill in the United Kingdom. The mill ceased work commercially in 1927 and was preserved in 1932. In November 2021, it was placed on the Heritage at Risk Register as being in danger of collapse.

Bourn Windmill
Bourn Windmill, October 2006
Mill nameBourn Windmill
Mill locationBourn, Cambridgeshire
Grid referenceTL 3118 5800
Coordinates52°12′17″N 0°04′54″W / 52.20467°N 0.08165°W / 52.20467; -0.08165
Operator(s)Cambridge Past, Present and Future
Year builtEarly C17th.
PurposeCorn mill
TypeOpen trestle post mill
No. of sailsFour
Type of sailsTwo Common sails, two Patent sails
WindshaftWood, cast iron poll end
Auxiliary powerOil engine (1924–27)
No. of pairs of millstonesTwo pairs

History edit

The mill may date to the first quarter of the 16th century. The tree that forms the main post of the mill was felled at some point after 1515.[1] The earliest record of the windmill at Bourn is in a deed of 1653, stating that John Cook had sold the mill to Thomas Cook in 1636. The 1653 deed conveyed the mill from Thomas Cook to William Smythe, a blacksmith from Caxton. In 1779, the mill was leased by John Butler, a farmer in Bourn. He bought the mill in 1799. Smythe died in 1832, leaving the mill to his niece Mary Heywood, of Huntingdon, and her husband Elieze. They sold the mill in 1836 to Joshua Hipwell, of Toft for £550. Hipwell died in 1866 and the mill passed to his son, William. It was then sold to Mr. Papworth but had been sold to Zaccheus Papworth by 1874, later passing to William Papworth and then George Papworth. The mill worked by wind until 1924, when an oil engine was installed as auxiliary power. It ceased working commercially in 1927.[2] The mill is the oldest surviving windmill in the United Kingdom.[3]

The mill was purchased from Mr Pentelow for £45 in 1931 by Alfred Bossom and Mansfield Forbes. The three funded its repair, which was undertaken by Hunt Bros., the Soham millwrights. On 3 June 1932, it was presented to the Cambridge Preservation Society.[2][3][a] The handover ceremony was held at the mill, with musicians in Elizabethan costume. Don Quixote tilted at the windmill. The deeds were accepted by Mr. A. B. Ramsay, Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge and president of the society. Bottles of beer and cider were smashed on the mill's brick piers by Mrs. Bossom, and Miss Batten, Miss Lloyd and Miss Spring.[4][b] A model of the mill, with four Common sails, was made by Rex Wailes and placed on exhibition in the Children's Gallery of the Science Museum, London.[6] Extensive repairs were undertaken in 1965.[7]

The mill is a Grade I listed building[8] and a Scheduled Monument.[9][1] Between 2000 and 2004, the mill was restored at a cost of £46,000. Of which the Heritage Lottery Fund donated £38,300, Waste Recycling Environmental donated £7,200 and South Cambridgeshire District Council donated £720.[10] In October 2020, rot was discovered in the mill's crosstrees. Repairs made in the 1980s infilling rotten cavities with cement had allowed rain into the timbers. An appeal was launched by Cambridge Past, Present and Future for the cost of repairs estimated to be in excess of £50,000.[11] Scaffolding was placed around the mill whilst repairs were carried out. In November 2021, it was reported that the mill had been added to Historic England's Heritage at Risk Register.[1] The entry on the register states that a grant had been awarded for project development and emergency propping.[12] In April 2022, it was reported that only £10,000 more needed to be raised to fund the restoration of the mill - The National Lottery Heritage Fund had awarded £148,456; Historic England had given a grant of £54,000 and the public had donated over £20,000. Architect Norman Foster gave his support to the scheme. He had drawn the mill as a student at Manchester University.[13] Following restoration, the mill reopened in April 2023.[14]

Description edit

The stone floor, showing the wooden windshaft, brake wheel and headstones

Bourn Mill is an open trestle post mill. The body measures 14 feet 6 inches (4.42 m) long by 10 feet 3 inches (3.12 m) wide.[2] It having been extended at the tail to accommodate a bolter.[15] The mill is 31 feet 6 inches (9.60 m) high at the ridge. The mill has four sails, two Commons and two Patents.[2] These are carried on a wooden windshaft with a cast iron poll end.[c] They drive two pairs of millstones, arranged head and tail.[16]

Notes and references edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ Now Cambridge Past, Present and Future
  2. ^ Miss Batten was the author of a book on windmills: Batten, M. I. (1930). English Windmills, Vol. 1 - Kent, Surrey, Sussex. London: Architectural Press. She was also the secretary of the Windmill Section of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.[5]
  3. ^ Per photographs in this article

References edit

  1. ^ a b c "Bourn Mill: One of oldest windmills at risk of collapse". BBC News Online. 4 November 2021. Retrieved 7 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d Brown 1976, p. 50.
  3. ^ a b Wailes 1954, p. 151.
  4. ^ "Bourn Windmill". The Times. No. 46151. London. 4 June 1932. col D, p. 12.
  5. ^ Coles Finch 1933, p. 47.
  6. ^ "Points from Letters". The Times. No. 46096. London. 1 April 1932. col D, p. 8.
  7. ^ Brown 1976, p. 51.
  8. ^ Historic England. "BOURN MILL, Bourn (1162375)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
  9. ^ Historic England. "Bourn Windmill, Bourn (1002935)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
  10. ^ "Bourn mill reopens after renovations". Windmill World. Retrieved 7 November 2021.
  11. ^ "Bourn Mill: One bad storm 'could topple 400-year-old windmill". BBC News Online. 13 October 2020. Retrieved 7 November 2020.
  12. ^ "Heritage at Risk, East of England Register 2021". Historic England. Archived from the original on 4 November 2021. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
  13. ^ "Norman Foster backs campaign to save Bourn Mill". BBC News Online. 7 April 2022. Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  14. ^ "Repaired 500-year-old windmill reopens to public". BBC News Online. 19 April 2023. Retrieved 24 April 2023.
  15. ^ Wailes 1954, p. 24.
  16. ^ Wailes 1954, p. 32.

Bibliography edit