Windmill

Windmill
A building with sails that turn in the wind to generate power and grind grain into flour
This is an image of a bill thrift which can be found at the Museum of East Anglian Life, please see the stories so far below for more information.
Driving through Norfolk I’m reminded of our family holidays. Summery and glittering. A kind of gliding through the Broads. The memories are soft and edged with a particular kind of light. A blueness of water, a greenness of boat, the black and white of swinging locks. I’m remembering a particular cherry coloured top I used to wear carefully pinned with a Mr Men badge and a great day spent fishing using a toy orange rod with cheese for bait. And dotted through the landscape were windmills. Lots and lots of windmills. I hadn’t been to Holland by then, but if I had it would have reminded me of there… Flat grassed lands as far as the eye can see and windmills extending far off onto the horizon. My mum fell in the Broads once – our boat escaped it’s moorings (with only me and my brother abroad) and my dad’s hat even whipped off in the wind (never to be seen again), but they were great times. Steady and constant… kind of like the rhythm of turning sails across Norfolk.

Stories posted so far...

Posted by The Museum of East Anglian Life
With use, millstones wear down and have to be 'dressed'. This means that the furrows need to be re-cut and the grinding surfaces or 'lands', made rough again. Dressing was usually done by a millwright, but many millers were capable of doing it themselves. The dressing was carried out using a mill 'bill' (a form of chisel) held in a wooden handle, called a 'thrift'. The millwright knelt on the edge of the stone and slowly chipped at the furrows to increase their depth and sharpen the cutting edge, and at the lands to roughen them. This was called 'fine stitching'.

This bill thrift was used by the donor, Mr. Hitchcock, from the mid 1920s to 1972 at Rattlesden windmill. Mr. Hitchcock's father moved to the windmill in 1883, and had 7 or 8 workers under him. He did very little manual work, his time being taken up with buying from the surrounding farmers and selling to large scale manufacturers. Mr. Hitchcock started full time work at the mill in August 1914 and took over completely on his father's death in 1921. The mill finally closed in 1972.
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