Ellis Mill

1128 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type

Things to do


Date of travel

September, 2016

Product name

Product country

Product city

Travelled with

On your own

Reasons for trip

Ellis windmill stands on the ridge above the Trent Valley and can be seen when approaching Lincoln from the west. The wind whips up the slope to turn the sails so the mill didn’t need to be very tall. There have been windmills working at this site since at least the 1600s and there were nine windmills working along the ridge. This mill was built as a tower mill in 1728. These had a brick or stone base and a wooden cap that was moved by a fantail at the top. Each county had their own design and the ‘onion’ cap is typical of Lincolnshire.

The first recorded owner was a wealthy landowner named Anthony Meres. It went through a succession of owners until John Ellis bought the mill for just £250 in December 1894. He had owned a wooden post mill at Barton Village but this had collapsed and could not be restored. In full working order, the mill would have been able to grind enough flour for 1200 people. Gradually steam and later electricity and roller milling replaced windmills and only Ellis mill survived.

The mill was only worked on two sails until the Second World War. One of the sails broke and this was the end of its working life. The metal machinery was removed from the mill for the war effort.

The mill was sold to a property developer in 1974 who had plans to demolish the mill and replace it with housing. Heritage groups stepped in to preserve mill as the last of its kind in Lincolnshire. It mysteriously caught fire a few months later and was completely gutted. In 1977, a group got together for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee to restore the mill to working order using machinery salvaged from other local mills. It eventually reopened in 1981 and ground its first flour since the start of the second world war. Currently the mill is not working as the fantail has been damaged and the shutters have been removed from the sails until it can be repaired.

The tour begins on the TOP FLOOR of the windmill and is reached up a very steep flight of wooden steps. These go as far as the cap. The fantail turns the cap so the sails receive maximum wind. The turning sails turn the wallower and this turns the square shaft which is responsible for working the rest of the machinery.

The stone floor has a trapdoor and sacks of grain are hoisted up here and tipped into the grain hoppers. There are two. One stores maize used for animal feed and the other stores grain which is ground into flour. The bins hold enough grain to run the millstones for a day. The square shaft is protected by a wood collar and continues down to the Stone floor.

The STONE FLOOR has two sets of millstones. One is made of Derbyshire stone which is very coarse and is used to grind animal feed. The other set is made from French Burr and gives a much finer grind with less grit in it. This set is used for flour. The stones are quarried in pieces which are held together by a metal rim.

The square shaft drives the great spur wheel for each set of stones and this then turns the smaller stone nuts which then turn the upper mill stone.

The great spur wheel has metal cogs. The stone nuts have wooden cogs. This reduces the risk of sparks which might ignite the flour dust. The wooden cogs are also cheaper and easier to replace if they snap.

The grain is fed down a sacking shoot into the hopper. It then trickles down into the damsel and then into the centre of the millstones. The stone turns eight times for each rotation of the sails.

The bottom stone or bed stone is fixed. The height of the top stone can be adjusted to control the flour quality. This is done on the GROUND FLOOR. The tentering gear controls the height of the top stone above the bed stone. A rod runs up through the centre of the bed stone and the height of the top stone can be controlled by turning a screw. The miller controls the height of the top stone by checking on the feel and texture of the flour by rubbing it between his thumb and fingers, hence the expression “Rule of thumb”.

The flour is collected in a sack. It is then either sold as wholegrain flour or is sieved to remove the bran. There is a model of a dresser showing how it is used to remove the bran. Again this is worked via the sails. Different size sieves separate the bran, flour and semolina which is the finest grade of flour.

I visited on a Heritage Open Day. The mill is open weekends by volunteers from April to September from 2-5pm. From October to March it is only open on Sundays from 1-dusk. Entry is free but donations are appreciated. There is some parking at the mill, otherwise there is parking at the nearby Museum of Lincolnshire Life. The post code is LN1 3JJ and the grid reference is SK 971722.

There are videos showing the mill at work “here.”:http://www.lincstothepast.com/exhibitions/places/windmills/ellis-mill/ There are more pictures “here.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/presocialhistory/socialhistory/industrial/ellis_mill/index.html


Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.