Maud Foster Windmill
5 sails and 7 storeys, some say Britain's tallest working windmill
Climb all 7 floors and see flour being made in the traditional way by wind-power in the finest and one of the tallest windmills in the British Isles.
The windmill still operates today, producing a wide range of flours for sale.
Maud Foster Windmill is a seven-storey and five-patent sailed windmill located on the Maud Foster Drain (16 Willoughby Road) in Boston, Lincolnshire, which she takes her name from. She is one of the largest operating windmills in England being 80ft tall to the cap ball.
This tower mill was erected for Thomas and Isaac Reckitt in 1819 by the Hull millwrights Norman and Smithson to grind corn that was brought in by barge along the drain. The original drawings and accounts survive, telling us that it cost £1826-10s-6d, which was a large sum in those days. It shows just how far advanced millwrighting was in this area by 1819, with all iron gearing, patent sails and a tall, well-proportioned, and untarred tower showing the fine masonry. In her heyday in the mid-19th-century five and sixed-sailed windmills were not that rare and unusual as they are today.
Sold in 1835 the mill changed hands to various owners. In 1914 Alfred Ostler bought the mill and run her until 1942 when he gave up business and closed her down.
She was preserved as a landmark in 1953, the last of more than a dozen mills in the town. There are five instead of the more usual four patent sails, the shutters of which are now at Wrawby post mill. An unusual feature is the weather beam (or 'rode balk') which is of cast iron, probably a replacement of the original wooden one. The brake wheel is of wooden clasp-arm type with an iron tooth ring and wooden brake. The wallower is also of iron with a wooden friction drive to the sackhoist. The dust floor is more spacious than is often found in Lincolnshire and is lit by windows, a welcome change from the gloomy, cramped space usually encountered by mill explorers!
Three pairs of stones, two grey and one French, survive on the fourth floor with vats, spouts etc. all intact. The great spur wheel is of iron, as is the upright shaft. The stone nuts have wooden cogs, as usual. The spout floor gives access to the reefing stage and contains a fine governor which controls all three pairs of stones. The bridge trees are of iron and are Y-shaped, with integral bridging boxes.
In 1987 the mill was bought by James Waterfield and his family who restored her in 1988 to fully working order being now the most productive windmill in all England.
Visitors may climb all seven floors and see the milling process in action as well as enjoy fine views of the town from the balcony. Maud's tearoom in the old granary serves morning coffee, lunches and afternoon teas with good old-fashioned home baking and local specialities on the menu. The mill shop sells flour, porridge and good quality souvenirs as well as local history books.
Information primarily from Wikipedia
Clicking on the above 2 image shows a larger version
When we visited
You can photograph this mill from its car park or from across the drain (canal) there are occasional boats up and down this, but it's quite a way down so not easy to get good images of mill and boats. We didn't climb the mill to look at the view, this page had not been created at the time and we didn't know this was an option.
It's possible to get reflections but with a large wall and motorway style safety barrier its not that appealing, the normal position is also too high in relation to the water for it to work well.
The image on the right above has been edited in Photoshop to reduce the amount it is leaning back (perspective) due to taking it close and looking up. There is a limit to how far you can go back before the drain gets in the way, and from the other side you then have the barrier. Ideally you want to be on the opposite side higher up, perhaps on a double Decker bus, or one of those devices they use for fixing street lights.
When we visited one of the sails was off for repair or replacement, so our images have only 4 of the 5 sails, but as it was the one pointing down in some shots its not obvious. The image below shows it later with all 5 sails back.
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