The Mills Section of the SPAB is the UK’s national organisation devoted to protecting and promoting traditional windmills and watermills. With funds and support from our members and the general public, we campaign to save traditional mills which retain their machinery from destruction and conversion, we provide technical advice, guidance and funding to facilitate the sympathetic repair of mills and their machinery and we celebrate our traditional milling heritage through events such as National Mills Weekend which is held on the second weekend of May.
For those who love mills, become a member and get together with like-minded people with a shared enthusiasm for all things mill-related.
For those involved with mills, access advice and guidance on technical issues and planning applications, continued professional development via our training courses and funding for mill repairs through our Mill Repair Fund
For heritage professionals, access advice and guidance on casework covering both general and site specific issues, development control, public inquiries and routine design and maintenance.
For families, visit a mill, look up the mills in your area and beyond and you may discover mills still making flour, see sails or waterwheels turning to make the millstones rotate and see other machinery in action.
The Mills Section of the SPAB dates back to 1929 when the Society launched a campaign to save Britain’s surviving windmills. The campaign was a direct result of the Daily Mail making a plea to save our windmills, a cause it was to champion a number of times before the outbreak of the Second World War. At this time, wind and water mills were disappearing from the landscape with great regularity, the result of many traditional milling businesses folding from the 1880s onwards due to the advent of roller milling, the availability of steam power and changes to agriculture and the amount of grain produced in the UK.
The Society launched a number of campaigns to save particular windmills and in 1931, a Windmill Committee was formed, with engineer and mill enthusiast Rex Wailes as technical advisor. The Windmill Section of the SPAB extended its brief to include watermills in 1946. A Philosophy of Repair was written which enshrines the Section’s Aim and the Principles of Repair which underpin the work of the Section and the document has been regularly updated to this day. This Philosophy informs the vital work the Section carries out in undertaking casework – responding to listed building applications which affect mills, campaigning against plans to demolish mills, convert mills or remove mill machinery, providing advice and guidance on how mill buildings and machinery should be conserved or repaired.
Membership of the Mills Section (as it became known) gradually increased as more and more people become actively involved in campaigning to save mills and volunteering to conserve and repair mills. The Section began to hold a Spring and Autumn event each year to bring together members, again something which continues to this day. The Section founded National Mills Weekend, a national celebration of traditional mills held on the 2nd weekend of May each year to coincide with similar events held across Europe. A newsletter and now magazine, Mill News keeps members in touch and up-to-date with informative articles, technical information and news from the traditional milling world. More recently, the Section has developed a regular programme of training courses for those involved in caring and operating traditional mills and founded a Mill Repair Fund which offers grants to fund repairs to mills. Today, the Mills Section is a vibrant partner of the SPAB.