About the Mills Section

The SPAB Mills Section is the UK’s national organisation for protecting and promoting traditional windmills and watermills. 

What we do 

We protect and promote traditional mills by:

  • Campaigning to save traditional mills and their machinery from destruction and conversion  
  • Providing technical and casework advice for millers, millwrights and mill owners
  • Organising events and training for mills professionals and enthusiasts
  • Celebrating our milling heritage through National Mills Weekend, the nation’s annual celebration of mills and milling on the second weekend of May 

How to get involved 

If you love traditional windmills and watermills, you can:

  • Sign up to our Mills eNewsletter to get the latest news from the Mills Section and beyond 
  • Become a SPAB Mills Member to support our vital work protecting these unique structures 
  • Check out our mill-related events, including talks and workshops 
  • Visit a mill for National Mills Weekend on the second weekend of May 

If you also work with mills: 

Our history 

The Mills Section of the SPAB dates back to 1929 when we launched a campaign to save Britain’s surviving windmills. At the time, traditional mills were fast disappearing from the landscape. Many traditional milling businesses started 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. 

We carried out a national survey of mill buildings, with support from The Times and The Daily Mail, and the resulting collection of photos, sketches and notes on hundreds of mills is now conserved by the Mills Archive in Reading. 

We launched a number of campaigns to save specific windmills under threat, and in 1931 we formed a Windmill Committee, with engineer and mill enthusiast Rex Wailes as technical advisor. The Windmill Section of the SPAB extended its brief to include watermills in 1946. 

The new Mills Section set out its Philosophy of Repair which continues to underpin our work. This document sets out how we respond to listed building applications which affect mills; how and why we campaign against plans to demolish or convert mills or remove mill machinery; and how we provide advice and guidance on how mill buildings and machinery should be conserved or repaired.

Image © R Jones

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