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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 28 - Summer 1976

Quainton Windmill - Part 2 - Max Davies - Quainton Windmill Society

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J P Mullett - Remains of Drive from Fantail to Curb-ring

(Continued from Quainton News, No. 26)

Quainton Mill consists of five floors, the cap itself forming a sixth. The actual millstones are on the fourth. Each of the four pairs of stones is in a wooden stone case in which the lower stone is held stationary while the upper or "running" stone revolves. The grain is fed from hoppers via chutes through square holes in the stone case centres. The meal descends to bins two floors below for dressing and bagging up. On the floor immediately below, the stones there are the governing mechanism called the "tentering gear" which irons out variations in wind speed which might otherwise damage the mill. A simple centrifugal governor adjusts the grinding gap between the stones; the higher the wind speed the narrower the gap. Also, at third floor level, an exterior wooden gallery encircled the Quainton mill to give access to the sails. This is to be restored.

The deterioration of Quainton windmill, especially during the past ten years or so, has saddened many lovers of the Vale of Aylesbury where the tower forms a unique and highly individual landmark. The County Council's conservation plan for Quainton published in 1972 was already concerned and commented that the mill was in a sad state of decay ... Joint local action is urgently needed to save this building." Attempts to organise such action were quickly made but did not get off the ground until May 1974, when it became possible to form the Quainton Windmill Society to carry out the task with the generous backing of the Friends of the Vale of Aylesbury who adopted this as their principal project for European Architectural Heritage Year, 1975. The QWS constitution lays down that the mill shall be made open to the public and the Society plans an exhibition at the ground floor level, where the steam engine used to be, to enhance the mill's undoubted educational value.

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Courtesy The Bucks Herald - The Merry Millers

The present owner of the mill, Mr Colin Dancer, is in the direct line of descent from James Anstiss. He has accepted the Presidency of the Society and both he and Mrs Dancer play a most active part in its work. As always in this resourceful country, highly competent professional people came forward as soon as the Society was formed to help organise and carry out the work. Our committee includes a civil engineer, a mechanical engineer and an architect in whose hands the technical direction rests jointly. Their services, as, of course, all the labour, are voluntary.

Work began in August 1974, and it soon became apparent that structural damage was being accelerated by the one remaining sail stub which was exercising leverage on the cap in windy conditions. This was tackled in November 1974 by the crude but effective measure of sawing through the sail stub and letting it fall to the ground.

Apart from this, the first tasks were to clear up the mess that had accumulated through decades, to strengthen floors and access ladders in order to make safe working possible and to make thorough surveys of structure and machinery so that we could see what lay ahead and what resources would be needed. The culmination of this preliminary phase was foreseen as the lifting off of the cap by mobile crane during the first half of 1975 together with the wind shaft and brake wheel and the oak framework on which they were installed. These were to be housed at ground level for restoration work while structural repairs and restoration of the remaining machinery would proceed. It was hoped that complete restoration to workable condition would be completed within four to five years.

To be continued.

1 - For the latest news on Quainton Windmill see their facebook page.

The text in this Quainton Railway Society publication was written in 1976 and so does not reflect events in the 39+ years since publication. The text and photographs are repeated verbatim from the original publication, with only a few minor grammar changes but some clarifying notes are added if deemed necessary. The photos from the original publication are provided as scans in this internet version of this long out of print publication.

Quainton Windmill - Part 2 - Max Davies - Quainton Windmill Society - Quainton News No. 28 - Summer 1976

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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Page Updated: 05 November 2017