Summary of articles in International Molinology No 106, which were published in June 2023

‘The SmartMolen Project: real-time remote monitoring of traditional windmills turning to wind’ by Justin Coombs.

Upminster windmill (London Borough of Havering, England) has recently been fully restored through a Dutch/UK scheme. Windmills with patent sails and winded by fantail face the risk of tail-winding, and this project set out to provide safeguarding through using latest radio and internet technology (LoRaWan) working with a digital compass. The technology has now been applied to 11 mills (in UK and Germany) and provides data on responsiveness of the winding gear and cap rotation.

‘Irton Manor Watermill – history, excavation and conservation’ by David Fortune.

This article explores the rediscovery and excavation of a great rarity in England; namely the remains of a horizontal-wheel watermill. Irton Manor mill, in the Lake District National Park of Cumbria, was operated from the 1750s but had much earlier origins, possibly constructed in the 13th century. Left neglected by the owners it was eventually incorporated into the estate landscaping. Excavation and stabilisation were started in 2019.

‘About millstones in Finland’ by Kirsti Horn.

The author recounts that there were some 20,000 mills in Finland in the 1880s but often the only remains are the millstones. Little has been written about these, but one of the major sources was the sandstone beds of Säkylä, in the south-west of the country. The industry here dates back to the 17th century, and was mainly conducted through the winter months, producing around 100 pairs of millstones per year. In the more northerly parts they used granite, and from the 1880s they manufactured artificial stones.

‘A water-driven ice block factory, from before WWII, at the Frantzis’ mills (Lamia, Greece)’ by Constantinos Ath. Balomenos.

The Frantzis’ mills were part of the Mouriki farm estate, bought by the Greeks from the Turks at the time of liberation (1833). The mill worked grinding corn until it finally stopped in 1956. Ioannis Kranakis, a career soldier, bought the estate and built there an ice block factory, using the power of the waterwheel to drive the compressor for the refrigerant.

‘A formula to install watermills along a riverbed according to the Byzantine law’ by Stelios A. Mouzakis.

Moldavian and Wallachian mill law of the 18th century was based on much earlier Byzantine laws from the 7th and 8th centuries. A whole chapter of the legal code Syntaamation Nomikon of 1780 was dedicated to the construction of watermills along rivers. This provided controls against harm to neighbours, stipulated the use of skilled craftsmen and the application of mathematics to the hydraulic constructions that directed water via leats into the water towers used to drive horizontal water wheels.

‘Sugarcane milling – an historical overview’ by Willem D. van Bergen.

An update on the paper delivered by the author at the 12th Symposium in 2007, this describes the diffusion of the sugarcane industry from eastern civilisations to the west (initially via the Crusades) and then across the globe via imperial conquest. The production technology is described, including the use of mills to extract the cane juice; initially by rollers, then edge runners, presses, then finally the three-roller mills (vertical and horizontal.) The various energy sources are also described. The article is fully illustrated throughout.

Communications articles include ‘Some misconceptions regarding ancient references to windpower’ by Etienne Rogier. This explores some of the ‘myths’ about windmills in India, Babylon and Egypt; mostly derived from poor translations of ancient texts. Next is ‘De Merelaaanmolen of Gistel, West Flanders, Belgium’ by Ton Meesters, which provides photographic evidence of a rather unique mill built by Alfred Rouse in 1933 to generate electricity. Finally, a short piece by Mike Beacham ‘Millstones of wood in Ukraine’ based on a photograph in his collection. There follows a review by Luke Bonwick of the book ‘The Restoration of Wicken Mill – Millwrighting, Milling and History’ written by Dave Pearce.

Also included in this edition of International Molinology are obituaries to Kenjiro Kawakami, Derek Ogden and David Jones. They were all great contributors to TIMS and will be sadly missed.