Summary of articles in International Molinology No 108, which were published in June 2024

‘Change in the Air: The European contribution to the birth of modern wind turbine blades’ by Etienne Rogier.

Here the author charts the early development of wind turbines as used for electricity generation. European engineers successfully fused the newly-emerging science of aerodynamics with the existing technology of windmill sails. Their work set the scene for the modern wind turbine, arguably the most efficient source of renewable power.

‘The Mystical Mill of Vézelay, Yonne department, Burgundy, France: the oldest figures of a medieval windmill and miller in Europe’ by Jean-Pierre Henri Azéma.

In around 1132 a master sculptor provided an unusual capital for the new abbey of Vézelay. This depicted Moses pouring grain, which represents the Old Testament into the ‘press of the cross’ i.e., a mill. By his passion, Christ extracts from it the pure and fine flour of the New Covenant, to be received by the Apostle Paul. The author has conducted a new multi-disciplinary study of this work, and from this draws new conclusions regarding its place in the history of molinology.

‘Kitchener’s contribution to the study of pre-industrial installations (windmills and watermills) in Cyprus’ by E. Rizopoulou-Egoumenidou & A. Spyrou.

From 1878 to 1883 Lord Earl Kitchener spent time in Cyprus making a map of the island. The main driver being to realise the economic potential of the island, which of course included its mills. These were mostly watermills (the winds there were not suitable for grinding cereals), and the map has become a valuable tool in reconstructing the story of the island’s milling heritage.

‘French watermills and their place in the rural energy mix: efficient ecology being dismantled’ by Patrice Cadet.

The author inherited a family watermill in the Department of the Loire and set about using the turbine to heat the adjoining housing. He soon encountered problems from the authorities who are systematically removing weirs under the auspices of the European Water Framework Directive. This is destroying the heritage value and power generation potential of French mills, and the author here examines the arguments for and against this policy.

‘Watermills of the Azores’ by Rui Félix.

Portuguese settlers introduced Iberian watermill technology to the islands of the Azores under the Donataria system of civil administration. The author charts this history and examines the technology of water capture and milling. Most of the few remaining mills only function for museum and tourist purposes.

This issue features three communications articles; the first by Alex Vincent looks at ‘Barrow Mills: Bronze Age barrows later reused as windmill-steads in southern England’. The second is another piece from Jean-Pierre Azéma on ‘Animal Driven Mills of France: the thesis of François Jarrige’. Finally, another piece on renewable electricity generation, where in ‘As the Tide Turns: The Quoddy Tidal Power Project Saga’ Mark Borton recounts the many obstacles that beset a massive opportunity for use of tidal power in Washington County, Maine, US.

Also included in this edition of International Molinology are three obituaries; the first to Johannes Weinig, TIMS member and President of Deutsche-Muehlen. The second is for Peter Filby, an authority on the mills of Cambridgeshire (UK) and especially the windpumps of The Fens; and lastly, Geoffrey Starmer who did much work on the watermills of Northamptonshire (UK) and who will be fondly remembered for his participation in TIMS symposia and tours.