Corn was milled here in the 16th century
Point 6 - Whitburn Windmill
There's been a mill on these grounds since the 16th Century, first providing food for the local population and later a valuable look out spot.
The earliest known records of a mill on this site date back to a 1779 coastal shipping survey, which shows a post mill in Whitburn. A post mill was the earliest form of windmill, in which all the grinding machinery and grain stores were supported by a central vertical post. The miller would have had to turn the whole mill around so that the sails faced into the wind.
The mill is a short diversion on the way
A tower windmill was built in 1790 after the original post mill was blown down in strong gales. The windmill would have ground corn from local farms which was used to make bread.
During the 1890s, steam mills began to take over, and by 1896 the Whitburn mill was no longer in use. The sails, cap, fantail and grindstones disappeared, and only the stone tower remained. However, during the Second World War it provided a valuable look out post for enemy aircraft.
South Tyneside Council took ownership of the mill in 1960 from the Church Commissioners. At that time it was an empty shell, as all the inner machinery had been removed 100 years earlier. Only one of the old timber beams and the original fireplace set into the wall on the ground floor remained.
Nearby Whitburn range and camp
In 1991 and 1992 South Tyneside Council undertook a massive restoration project on the mill. The walls were repaired, doors and windows opened up, floors rebuilt, staircases and information panels installed.
The walls are made of solid stone from Marsden quarry. It has a conical tower and a timber cap with sails and a fantail. The current sails are replicas as the real ones are too fragile to withstand high winds.
Visit a mill
You can see a virtually complete 19th Century mill at Fullwell, approximately 2 miles away. It is the only mill in the area with its machinery and interior intact.
At Cleadon Mill you can still see the original tower, dating from the 1820s. This mill, in a remote spot in the Cleadon hills, is said to be haunted by the miller's daughter Elizabeth Gibbon who died of a broken heart.
Moving on from the mill, you have the chance to explore the outskirts of Whitburn village and its connections to a children's classic.
last updated: 19/02/2008 at 12:16