New sails for Whissendine Windmill in Rutland
A working windmill has been given a new lease of life after a repair project spanning years.
Whissendine Windmill, which dates back to 1809, has been owned and operated since 1995 by 71-year-old Nigel Moon who uses it to produce a range of flours.
When Nigel bought the mill, it had been out of action since 1922 when it was damaged during a storm.
But after an extensive restoration by Nigel the windmill was back in action, including an electric motor which can be used to keep the grindstones operating when the sails are not turning.
Being in use every day - rain, storm or shine - takes its toll on the sails, which have had to be replaced again.
“It needs ongoing maintenance,” said Nigel.
Since 2020, three of the 34ft sails have been replaced and the fourth repaired, with work completed last week.
The extra power has meant more flour can now be ground by wind, and Nigel says the sails are similar to what the originals would have looked like in the 1800s.
Nigel’s talents don’t just lie with running a successful windmill, but he also made the new sails himself, with a little help from a group of friends.
By doing it himself he has saved thousands of pounds.
“It was harder psychologically,” he said.
“As you start it is an awful struggle, in the middle you plod on feeling like you’re not getting anywhere and everything is miles away.
“But as we got to the end I was spurred on.”
Nigel is one of the handful of owners of a working windmill in this country and although his business has survived, it has become more of a struggle in recent years.
He said: “In the 1940s and 1950s people would actually cook, one problem now is that people don’t.
“It is incredible how things have changed.
“People have top of the range kitchens and then buy takeaways because they don’t want to make it dirty.”
During the covid lockdowns people were queuing to get their hands on the Whissendine Windmill flour and Nigel ‘couldn’t turn out enough and bag it fast enough’.
But just as quickly as the craze started it soon stopped again with Nigel seeing fewer orders than before.
He is keen to encourage people to shop from local producers.