With the introduction of steam powered mills, windmills felt into disuse. During the 1890's Bidston Hill
was purchased from Lord Vyner for public use and in 1894 a Mr. R.S. Hudson paid for Bidston Windmill
to be restored. Further work has been carried out over the years, most recently by the present
custodians Wirral Borough Council. The windmill is open on the first Sunday each month between 2:
00pm and 4:00pm, when much of the machinery can be seen and a fine view can be had from the top.
THE USE OF WIND POWER
The sails are carried on a cast iron windshaft which projects through the front of the cap. To the end
of this a cast iron cross is fixed to carry the sails. These were covered by cloth. ' The strength of the
wind determined how many of the sails were covered. Inside the cap, hung onto the windshaft, was a
large cogged wheel known as the brake-wheel (now missing). A metal band applied to the rim of the
wheel acted as a brake. The break-wheel was geared to the wallower which is mounted on top of the
large wooden upright shaft. This runs down through the bin floor to the stone floor and powers the
great spur-wheel which drives the stone nuts which turn the running stones via the quant.
Wind power was also used to hoist sacks of grain from the ground floor up to the bin floor for storage.
The sack- hoist on the bin floor has many parts missing now and the double flap traps on the bin and
stone floors have been boarded over. The miller would tie a sack of grain onto the sack chain on the
ground floor and by pulling on a rope, which hung down through the floor, raise the sack up through
the double flap traps to the bin floor. Power was also taken from the great spur-wheel to drive the
brushes and fan of the flour-dresser by various belts, drums, shafts and gears.
THE MlLLING PROCESS
Sacks of grain were hoisted up through the building for storage on the bin floor. The grain was then
poured into hoppers under the bin floor, above the millstones. The hopper tapered at the bottom to an
outlet through which the grain passed into the shoe. As the quant revolved, the shoe vibrated,
shaking grain into the eye of the running stone. Radial grooves cut into the base of the running stone
and the top of the bedstone allowed the grain to pass between the stones which when turned,
ground the grain into meal. A small bell fixed inside the shoe would warn the miller when the hopper
was empty, normally being silent when packed with grain.
The millstones were made of French burrstone for producing flour or millstone grit for coarse animal
feed. The stones were enclosed by casings to collect the meal which was swept round to fall through
a wooden spout and into the flour dresser. This inclined cylinder of wire gauze containing wire brushes
separated the flour, middlings and bran, which were then collected below in sacks.
- The sails turned at 15 rpm about 60 mph at the tip).
- Only two men worked in the mill.
- 1 cwt of flour was produced every 3 to 5 minutes.
- The stones weigh 1.5 tons each and needed redressing every 100 hours.
- The stones lasted for 2 years.
- A set of French burrstones now costs £6000.
Information supplied by www.friendsofbidstonhill.com and Wirral Borough Council.
Our next stop is to look at the carvings in the rock, click page 4 to continue...
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