Quainton Windmill
A six-storey brick tower mill built 1830–32.

Mill History in brief

The building of the windmill started in 1830 to the order of Mr. James Anstiss. The bricks for the 65 foot tower were burnt in a kiln set up near the mill, the clay being dug from a depression about 100 yards to the north east. Two of the bricks are inscribed 'Ja Hunt 1830' and 'G&B 1830'. After a delay when the half-completed tower was thatched for the winter, machinery for 3 pairs of stones was installed by William Cooper of Aylesbury incorporating the latest ideas in millwrighting. The millers were James and Thomas Anstiss, Joseph Rose, Charles Burton and William Smith.

Early in the mill's life the first floor was raised and reorganised to allow a steam engine to be installed on the massive bed-stone on the ground floor, with its boiler in the open outside the north door. This engine enabled the mill to work regardless of the wind and was a common practice at the time. The drive was taken up the mill to engage the great spur wheel.

The mill only operated for about 50 years, and ceased working before 1891 since in the Census of that year both James and Thomas Anstiss described themselves as retired millers. The mill was left to become derelict. The engine and boiler were sold for scrap in 1914. At the same time one pair of stones was sold.

Society History

Quainton Windmill Society was formed in 1974 with the object of restoring the mill. The present owner, Mr. Colin Dancer, is Life President and he is a descendant of Mr. James Anstiss. In the first year temporary flooring was laid on all floors to allow safe access up the mill. The one remaining sail was removed as it endangered the structure. May 1975 saw the lowering of the cap, wind shaft and headframe to the ground to facilitate repairs. Work then continued renewing all floors, repairing windows, and rebuilding the gallery.

A new head frame, fantail assembly and a repaired cap were installed in 1987. The sails were fitted in 1992 and subsequently stone furniture was renewed allowing one pair of stones to mill grain to flour in February 1997.

Unfortunately, after only eight years, the sails had to be removed in the Autumn of 2000 as they had become badly rotted and weakened. At the same time a luffing gear casting became cracked needing the fantail to be removed as it could not turn into the wind. By June 2002 the luffing gear and fantail were back in place and the gallery decking was replaced.

In October 2004 the second set of sails had been constructed and hoisted into position and in April 2005 they were turned by the wind for the first time. In October 2006 the stone crane was installed allowing for safer and easier maintenance of the stones.

Milling of grain to produce flour resumed in May 2007 and continued for almost 5 years until April 2012. Milling ceased because control bars on two sails sheared preventing their shutters from operating. Replacement bars were manufactured (free of charge by ATG Training of Aylesbury) and fitted in July 2013. The Y-chain wheel was refurbished and put back into use at the same time.

The sails are turning again but the head frame is too weak to withstand the forces generated by milling. The Society is currently working towards obtaining a large grant to replace the head frame and undertake other restoration works.

In the past grants have been obtained from the Bucks County Council, English Heritage, New Horizons Trust and EB Buckinghamshire. The Friends of the Vale of Aylesbury, the CPRE, the Ernest Cook Trust, and many individuals have made donations. Help in kind has been received from numerous organisations. A number of village organisations have recently (2013) made generous donations from their fund raising activities.

The mill is open Sundays between 10 and 12.30 between March and October. Interested helpers and visitors are very welcome. Please contact us via Info@QuaintonWindmill.org or drop in any Sunday when we are open.