In recognition of bringing Tractor Days to Heage Windmill, John Allsop was invited to officially open the mill for our 2019 season.
In what was probably the warmest opening day since the windmill was restored in 2002, John made his entrance in fitting fashion by driving his Fordson Tractor down the track to the windmill, escorted by two other tractors, driven by local men David Hornsey and John Gould.
They were welcomed by a large gathering of people , including Alan Eccleston, Chairman of Heage Windmill Society, and Cllr. Angela Ward, Chair of Friends of the Windmill.
Alan welcomed everyone present and thanked in particular the team of volunteers who make the mill such a great attraction.
He introduced John Allsop, who was born and bred in Heage and has had a long standing love of the mill. It was John who, many years ago, suggested he organised a tractor rally at the mill. This has blossomed into memorable and well-supported Tractor Days which have greatly helped support the mill.
Angela spoke on behalf of Friends and mentioned the continuing need for more volunteers to help maintain the high standards set at the mill.
Alan then invited John to cut the yellow ribbon. In doing so doing, he said he sincerely hoped the mill would enjoy a great season and that that weather would be kind throughout.
Neil Oates from nearby Ripley is our latest Miller for the Day, ‘an experience I really enjoyed’ says retired headmaster Neil.
For his Miller for the Day gift, Neil was guided by a team of three qualified millers who were stocking up on flour for mill.
Neil first learnt how to start and stop the mill and to control the speed of the sails. He then assisted in the stone milling of some 125 kg of flour, using wind power to drive the stones – a really environmentally friendly process.
At the end of the day, Neil went home with a bag of flour he had helped produce and a certificate recording the occasion. He says it was a day he will never forget.
For details on how to become a ‘Miller for the Day’ click here
Aimee Bedward from Birmingham – a dedicated mill enthusiast – was given the ideal birthday gift by her friend Phil: a ‘Miller for the Day’ experience.
This enabled Aimee to enjoy a day’s training and activity at Heage Windmill, including milling some grain.
Under the supervision and guidance of millers Anthony Sharp and Tim Castledine, Aimee first started the sails turning, to the delight of watching visitors.
The sails turned for about an hour requiring her to make frequent adjustments in a variable wind. It was then decided to introduce Aimee to the process of milling. She successfully milled 20 Kg of excellent quality Wholemeal Flour.
Later Aimee was in the cap (at the top) of the mill to close the Mill down or, as we say, ‘put the old lady to bed’.
Aimee said she had had ‘a simply amazing day’.
Fancy being a Miller for the Day or gifting someone that experience? Click here to find out more…
Controlling and operating a 200 year old machine is not a task for the faint hearted. Apart from learning how to using the various controls for the sails and other machinery, they have to learn to observe the weather, especially the wind, as its direction and force are essential factors to the safe operations of the mill.
Everyone who ‘drives’ Heage Windmill undergoes a lengthy training period and then has to pass a practical ‘exam’ before he or she is permitted to be in sole control of the windmill. However those millers who seek to produce the renowned Heage flours, using the traditional mill stones, still has to continue to gain more experience. The miller is now producing a ‘foodstuff’ so, apart from learning how to operate the mill stones and the feed and processing gear, he/she now has to ensure compliance to numerous regulations, something which the old-time miller never even knew about.
Retired Rolls-Royce engineer Alan Eccleston, who lives in nearby Lower Hartshay, has just met all these exacting requirement and over the weekend was awarded his ‘Flour Miller Certificate’ by Piers Bostock, Chairman of Heage Windmill Society. In making the award Piers said ‘He was delighted to welcome Alan as a fully qualified person who could mill grain into flour –there are not many of them.’ Alan on his part said: ‘Ever since becoming a volunteer at the mill I have aspired to be able to mill and I am now delighted to join the elite group of qualified windmillers here at Heage’.
Don’t forget: Flour is normally on sale every weekend at the windmill, although sometimes lack of wind deems otherwise!
Congratulations to John Lea from Crich who has become our latest qualified flour miller. To qualify, John had to meet all the criteria set by the Trustees of Heage Windmill to operate the mill and produce meal and flour of various grades. After working alongside other experienced millers, under various weather conditions, he was judged ready to be assessed by operating the mill solo, though under the watchful eyes of a qualified miller. He has passed this test with flying colours and has been awarded a ‘Flour Miller Certificate ‘.
The operation of Heage Windmill is only permitted by those persons who have undergone our detailed training programme, either to run the mill out of gear (free wheeling) or, when in gear, to produce flour. The windmill is Grade 2* listed and every care is taken to ensure the millers are fully trained before they can operate the 200 year old ‘machine’ in order to ensure she is safe at all times.
Why don’t you come and see if being a miller appeals to you? We have both male and female millers. Come up to the mill at the weekend and talk to one of our millers, who will gladly show you what it’s all about. You need to be reasonably fit and to be able to climb the mill steps numerous times during the day, but all the rest we can teach you! We look forward to meeting you!
Heage Windmill is usually open to the public every Saturday and Sunday from Easter to the end of October, but is currently closed because of Covid-19. See home page for details>
Please note the wind speed. If it is more than 5 or 6 mph, then normally the sails will be turning.
Heage Windmill is owned by Derbyshire CC but is controlled and operated by Heage Windmill Society, a charitable organisation (Reg Charity No 1065980), to whom all profits from running the windmill are donated by the Friends to help ensure its continued preservation