Pinchbeck windmills

Hilary Healey with a picture of Glenside Mill as it is today. Photo: SG070313-035AM
Hilary Healey with a picture of Glenside Mill as it is today. Photo: SG070313-035AM

When Hilary Healey says she has been collecting information on local history for years, it is no exaggeration.

For instance, Hilary, a former art teacher turned archaeologist and local historian, has been researching Fenland gravestones since the 1960s.

Hilary, of Bicker, has decided it’s “high time” she got some of this work into print, and first to get the treatment necessary to produce a publishable book is Pinchbeck Windmills.

It’s research that started as a project by the late Joyce Curtis when she attended Hilary’s WEA class on Pinchbeck history in the 1980s.

Hilary says: “Joyce collected photograph and looked at old editions of local newspapers for information on the sale of mills.

“There were a surprising number of mills in Pinchbeck and I think that’s what got her hooked. In the middle of the 19th century, there were five working mills, as well as one or two that had gone for various reasons.”

Since Joyce died, census records have become available and so Hilary has been able to glean information from these, as well as from works by Rex Wailes, who wrote about windmills in the 1950s, and Karl Wood, who drew and painted windmills in the 1930s.

“The Lincolnshire records from these two are very important,” says Hilary, who says the book will be published by the Society for Lincolnshire History & Archaeology later in the year as a compilation.

“Windmills have always been popular because they stand out in the landscape.

“The early ones were wooden post mills and so they didn’t last very long. Some of the wooden parts of the post mills were recycled from the old drainage mills that the Fens were full of.

“These are corn mills and the book is a chronological history of the mills and the families living there. From the census records and the sale adverts you find out who the millers were and, like a lot of trades, they did inter-marry quite a bit so you get one family carrying on and then you find someone from that family is an apprentice at another mill down the road.”

Hilary believes there were so many windmills because Pinchbeck was a large parish and a lot of cereals were grown locally.

For various reasons, windmills were no longer in use by the 20th century.

Pinchbeck Windmills will be available from Bookmark, Spalding, and elsewhere.