The windmill appears to have been constructed from recycled materials.
The stone, and some of the hard wood timber came from the Elizabethan
Shire Hall that stood where the Market Square is today. The Shire Hall
was demolished in 1794. Sixteenth century timber has been identified
in the mill. Some brickwork was also used inside the tower to support
the beams. There were seven floors but only the upper four floors were
used for flour production until about 1840.
The stone tower is 17.00m (55.77 feet) high but the total height to
the top of the cap is 19.4m (63.77 feet), making this probably the tallest
tower mill in the Midlands. It seems probable that the windmill was built
to this height to compensate for its low level location.
The tower was roofed with a wooden conical cap similar in appearance
to that to be seen today. This cap was clad with wooden shingles. In
this cap, which could be turned to face the wind, was mounted the sails,
windshaft and sail mechanism.
The reefing gallery or stage would have been at the fourth floor level.
From this staging, the miller would have stretched canvas upon the sails.
Clearly the sails would not have posed a hazard to those walking in the
street below because they did not reach down below the reefing stage.
Research suggests that the stone was most likely to have been quarried
at Kingston Hill and Tixall and that some of the timber came from Penkridge
and Blore Park. Many of the joists and beams, identified as being of
16th century timber, have ovolo mouldings similar to those in the Ancient
Post construction developments
population of Stafford grew so did the demand for flour. With the
arrival of the railway and the construction of Castletown, the
need for additional pairs of millstones and more power was apparent.
It was decided, at some time between 1835 and 1847 to install a steam
engine at the mill so that the grinding process could continue when
there was insufficient wind to turn the sails. An engine house was
built on the river-side of the tower. To make room for this building
the three cottages on the north side were demolished and rebuilt in
the position seen today. The engine house was built over the well that
supplied the site. Water could still be drawn from this well as late
as the 1950s.
The first steam engine is believed to have been a beam engine,
known colloquially as â€˜a nodding donkeyâ€™ engine.
When this proved inefficient a 16-horse power horizontal steam
engine was installed
on the first floor. John Smith of the village foundary, Coven, 1827
- 1879, built the second steam engine. This drove an additional
the 2nd floor. The engine house chimney stood 60 feet tall, almost
as high as the top of the windmill.
mill could now operate whenever flour was required and did not depend
on wind strength. In effect there were two flour mills operating
within the tower, the upper one wind powered, the lower one
steam driven. Grain for both mills was stored at third floor level. Thus,
between 1850 and the mid 1860's, seven pairs of millstones could be worked
During its life as a windmill many additions were made to the site,
a bakery was built adjacent to the river, behind what is now an antiques
business. The northern cottages became commercial premises with living
accommodation on the upper floors. The miller and baker employed some
of the cottage residents.
In the ensuing years many modifications were made to
keep the milling viable including, latterly, animal feed production.
However, production could not keep pace; when people requested
white flour of a higher quality than was produced by stone grinding,
could not be matched with the production by roller mills. The production
of flour came to halt in 1886. When milling ceased the sails and
machinery were removed and the tower converted to a warehouse, the
last miller being Ralph Bullock Wright, who emigrated to New York
It is not known when gas lighting was installed but there is evidence
of this reaching up to the fourth floor. There was an external
gas light over the shop front, the pipework of which can be seen
day. Electricity was not introduced until 1996 when the "Friends" took
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