Summary of articles in International Molinology No 97 which was published in December 2018

In this edition of International Molinology a letter of invitation to the 15th TIMS Symposium in Berlin is included, by the Symposium Chairman, Gerald Bost.

An English country millwright at the end of the 19th century: Thompson’s of Alford in Lincolnshire by Colin Moore

Thompson’s of Alford were a well-known firm of millwrights in England, operating until recently (2013), and involved in many important restoration and repair projects. This article recounts the very earliest years of the firm (from 1877 to 1900), based on ledgers made recently available by Tom Davies, the last owner. These provide a wealth of comparative data on type and locations of jobs (not just on mills), and on the earliest financial accounts. Founded by the highly enterprising Robert Thompson, who bought their first yard in Parsons Lane, Alford, they were involved in work on some of the most advanced windmills ever built in England. Robert provided well for his children, and the family firm succeeded through the difficult times when country mills were closing through competition from industrialisation. The rest of the story remains to be told!

Archive sources and field surveys used to analyse horizontal-wheeled watermills, their position and technology, in the Basilicata Region of Southern Italy by Maria Carmela Grano.

Basilicata is a mountainous region in the far south of Italy, and this study, based on Maria’s PhD thesis, is the first on the watermills built there between the late 1700s and 1900. Over 1500 mills were mapped through archival data and field studies and their locations and  technologies (relative to fluvial dynamics), were applied to statistical modelling and a geographic information system, providing interesting conclusions. The mills were wholly of the horizontal-wheeled type of the ‘drop tower penstock’ type, and this study “challenges some of the stereotypes which consider them to be a primitive technology that inevitably faced oblivion when confronted with competition from its more complex, vertical-wheeled counterpart”. Their success “reflects the complete adequacy of the technology, perfectly appropriate, rather than primitive. These mills were preferred because they were fit for purpose, cheaper and easier to build and maintain”.

A Gloucestershire Mealman: Anthony Fewster of Inchbrook Mill. Part One by M J A Beacham.

Following his contribution on prison treadmills, Mike Beacham has provided the first part of a detailed analysis of the business affairs of a Gloucestershire mealman in the early 19th century. Mealmen were middle men, trading between farmers, millers and bakers, and could also be millers themselves; Anthony Fewster ran Inchbrook mill for 43 years. As the population grew the mealmen became involved in the import trade through ports such as Bristol and Gloucester, and Fewster’s ledgers show the extent of his trade both geographically and in terms of turnover in the days of horse and cart. Part Two will appear in IM80.

Early British Prison Treadmill Development: with notes on practices at Gloucestershire Gaols before 1845 by Keith Preston.

Keith Preston, a resident of New South Wales, was prompted to write this article after reading Mike Beacham’s paper on the treadmill at Horsley House of Correction. The early development of prison treadmills is explored, and their use both for grinding corn and raising water.  They were seen as tools of reform during a time of rising crime following the Napoleonic Wars, and were exported to the colonies. The treadmill regime was terribly hard, and guidelines were introduced to limit the equivalent daily ascent to 12,000 ft (3.658 m)!  A less severe form of punishment was the crank mill, turned by hand rather than through climbing. Later, as the economics of grinding changed, milling in prisons ceased.

The Messolonghi Windmill by George Speis.

This article recounts the tale of a mill which became a symbol of resistance in the siege of Messolonghi, during the Greek Revolution (for independance from the Ottoman Empire). Windmills were not usual in this part of Greece but this one was necessary to provide meal for this fortress city, and the know-how and technology came from the Ionian Islands.  The information was gathered from the Greek State’s General Archives, plus contemporary artistic depictions of the siege. The Windmill was the last point of defence, and was thought to have been destroyed by explosion, but the Archives show that it was still in use 10 years later.

Leonardo da Vinci: Water falling onto a bucket wheel and a new edition of Codex Madrid I by I.R. Dietrich Lohrmann.

As early as the late 1490s Leonardo was engrossed in the question of the efficiency of water wheels, and “as to whether it is more advantageous to drop water perpendicularly onto a water wheel or to do so at a certain angle”.  This article concerns a statement by Leonardo, rediscovered in 1955-6, in the Codex Madrid I, a new edition of which is published by the author this year. This concerns the relative amounts of work generated by the weight of water in the buckets of the wheel and the percussive effect of water striking the wheel. Leonardo’s own illustrations are reproduced here, and these influenced water wheel design in the following years.

Mills, Maladies and Magic by David Jones.

The kleiekotzer, literally “bran spewer”, is found only in the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) region of Germany and in the adjoining Strasbourg area of France. They take the form of a mask attached to the bolter of the mill, from which the bran (or the “unwholesome” part of the grain) is expelled. They date back to the 16th century, a time when epidemics of ergotism (or St Anthony’s Fire), were caused through eating rye bread infected with the over-wintering bodies of the ergot fungus. David Jones here explores the link between the disease and the magic protection provided by these fantastic masks – the “protective spirit” of the mill. There follows a series of photographs of kleiekotzers taken by Willem van Bergen.

UNESCO recognition of the craft of the Miller by Erik Kopp.

In December of 2017, the Dutch ʽcraft of millers operating windmills and watermillsʼ was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of ʽIntangible Cultural Heritage of Humanityʼ. The Dutch identity is connected to mills and the craft of the miller has an iconic value within the Netherlands. This recognition by UNESCO rightly reflects the effort made by all the professional and volunteer millers within the various Guilds and De Hollandsche Molen.

Bernard Badaroux, millwright and the ‘soul of the windmill of Rédounel’, in La Couvertoirade (Aveyron), France by Jean Pierre Azéma.

This article recounts the 12 year restoration of the windmill of Rédounel, inspired in part by the author, and involving the work of Bernard Badaroux, millwright, carpenter and aesthete. His meticulous work requires great attention to traditional methods and materials, even to the extent of re-using 150 year old timbers and searching flea-markets for period vintage nails and bolts.

The one book review, is by Tarcis van Berge Henegouwen, on Collet Veron’s work on the watermills of the Vivarais region of France, entitled “DU MOULINS AU PAYSAGE: Technique, espace et société au bord de l’eau. Le Vivarais du Moyen Âge à la fin du XIXe siècleˮ.