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27 November 2014
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Title - Extra Norfolk

Mighty mills still harnessing power naturally
Windmills in Norfolk have been around for centuries.

Norfolk's only millwright is making windmill history.

Richard Seago, who lives in South Walsham, is building a new windmill in the traditional style of the earliest mills in the country.

"I've always wanted to build a Post Mill since I was a young boy. When I returned to South Walsham I was fortunate to buy some land here and go ahead with my pipedream," he said.

"I hope to run it as a semi-commercial mill so people can come and buy flour here and perhaps supply health food stores. There'll be a certain amount of visitor trade as well," he added.

Finding the materials to build his windmill has been no easy task. So far, it has taken Paul four years to build his windmill:

richard seago's post windmill
Richard Seago's new Post Mill windmill.

"The main problem apart from the money, was getting hold of the size of timber I need, particularly the main post which is oak, 30 inches square at the base, and 20 feet long. I had an 18-month hunt for that," he said.

Another reason why building is slow is because the wood must be treated before it can be used. The quality improves according to how long it has been left after cutting.

All the milling machinery for the Post Mill is in the upper part called the buck. The whole weight of the mill rests on top of the single oak post. When the windmill is complete, there will be approximately 23 - 24 tonnes resting on top of the post.

With the painstaking process involved in building a Post Mill, Richard says he is likely to spend another five years perfecting his windmill.

History of windmills
At one point there were more than 100 windmills in Norfolk, although most of the smaller ones have now disappeared. Today, many of the mills are derelict and remain only as towers with parts of machinery.

There are three types of windmill in England and all three can be found in Norfolk: the Post Mill, which is the earliest type of windmill known in this country, the Smock Mill and the Tower Mill.

The first windmills appeared in the late 12th century and by the 17th century, the Smock Mill had been introduced by the Dutch.

Contrary to belief, most Smock Mills did not operate as flour mills but were used to drain the land.

Most of the mills pumped water from low level marshes into a large dyke or a main river system, which explains why so many of them can be seen along the Norfolk Broads and the River Yare.

For more on Norfolk's windmills, see our pop-up tour.





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wind turbine

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