B22 Windmills

Very few windmills exist on the Island - possibly due to the prevalence of gales or the lower capital cost of the many waterwheels that were on most streams on the Island.

George Head in his tour of 1832 comments on the paucity:

... nevertheless it is a curious fact, brought by the opportunity of a prospect so unintercepted to one’s observation, that notwithstanding the whole country is as much exposed to the wind as it is deficient in water, yet all the mills are water-mills, I think with only one exception. In the south, near Castleton, there is certainly one wind-mill, and if there be another, which I doubt, it is at all events in the north of the island

The Castletown windmill, built 1828, was not successful, but gained more attention in the 1950s when it was run as the Museum of Witchcraft (strictly it was in the outbuildings as the Mill was derelict - the Mill is now a very impressive apartment block).

Joseph Coleman view of Baldroma
View of Baldroma (Coleman collection ©F Coakley)

Nick Kelly records a further six known mills of which reasonable traces remain and five others.

  1. Ballawhane, Andreas (NX398012) small stone tower threshing mill of c. 1870.
  2. Lezayre Mill (Now Beaconsfield Tower) Ramsey (SC445992) , completed 29 August 1836 [ref Mona's Herald] apparently built by Lieutenant John Monk who employed millers to run the mill - combined corn and saw mill. Large steam mill erected in 1862 but not clear when windmill ceased (possibly by end of 1870s) - now only two story truncation of the original 64 feet high (35 feet diameter) tower remains.
  3. Ballacorage, Ballaugh (SC348956) small farm threshing mill dating from 1878. Never had a cap - now attached to 'windmill cottage' (see Manx Life July/Aug 1972 for discussion on conversion).
  4. Baldromma, Maughold (SC490913) - similar to Ballacorage, built c.1880/1 - worked range of farm machinery including threshing mill.
  5. South Barrule Slate Quarry Malew, (SC270768) - small stone tower, probably built c.1902 to work a 2ft railway incline
  6. Billown Quarry, Malew (SC269702) - base of large iron wind pump (was moved around quarry as need arose)

He gives five other sites at which mills existed are mentioned:

J Coleman Mullen Guiye
View of probably Mullen Guiye (Coleman collection ©F Coakley)

  1. Mullen Guiye - Andreas/Bride - Stood on South side of A10 road, name = Goose Mill and was a small farm/threshing mill (according to Kneen name was Mullen geayee which is just Mill-Wind in manx)
  2. Bootleyvelt - Maughold - 'eccentric structure' consisting of series of demountable vanes placed on a tall tree - used for chopping gorse.
  3. Michael (SC318907) - farm threshing mill
  4. Ballakermeen Onchan - mentioned in 1780s ? scrutching/corn mill
  5. The Rhyne West Baldwin, Marown - small farm/threshing mill built c.1860

 In 'Manx Millennium 2000' (IoM Newspapers) #4 (April 1999) Peter Kelly includes a photo (MNH/pic/2098) of a 4 blade windmill at Daniel Kelly's workshop and Saw Mill at Kirk Michael (not clear if this corresponds to Nick Kelly's Michael mill) - an earlier photo (MNH/pic/3354 - in July edn) showed a 5 blade sail with a note that it burnt down in 1865 , presumably being replaced by the 4 blade mill.

Ballakermeen mill is mentioned in the 1760 copy of Manorial Roll -

17 Feb 1755: Mr Phillip Moore of Douglas mercht for a new wind miln to be erected upon the most convenient part of his own land in the treene of Ballakermine in this Parish [Kirk Conchan] for which he hath this day agreed with the Govr and Officers to pay ij s. [2s] yearly rent and five pounds fine.

However it would appear to have gone by 1790 as it is not mentioned by Feltham or later writers.

An earlier mill is mentioned in the 1725 will of Captain Thomas Christian of Ballamoar, Jurby which appears to have been built as a part of a consortium.

Another shortlived windmill is recorded on Ballaquane on the edge of Peel - this was built in 1841 (report Manx Sun 29 Jan 1841) but burnt down on 17th Dec 1847 - The Manx Sun [18 Dec 1847] reported

Yesterday a fire broke out in the windmill on the estate of Ballaquane near Peel and continued to rage until half past nine - the high wind favouring the progress of the flames. The whole of the mill and a part of the outbuildings were destroyed but we have not heard how the fire originated or whether the property was insured.

An even earlier mill of c.1608 is mentioned but had gone by 1648.

However Paterson in his record of a photographic tour made in 1862 says of the Curragh in the North of the Island "This large tract of level surface is studded here and there with farm-steadings, generally with their windmill ," (My italics) - possibly he was referring to small, portable, mills used for farm purposes as for example can be seen in the many windpumps in Santon on the 1868 O/S plan..

References

Nick Kelly Manx Windmills: A contemporary Survey, 1993 Proc 12th Mill Research Conference (ISBN 0-9509758-7-7) 1995

Hulme Chadwick In praise of Conversion Manx Life 2 #1 July/Aug 1972 pp15/17 has photos of Ballaugh Windmill cottage before and after conversion.


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© F.Coakley , 2001