StampNews.com hurries to inform all philately fans that Royal Mail commemorates the country’s long history of milling, with a look at six of the UK’s finest surviving wind and water mills, which between them ground grain, processed flint and produced cloth.
The set is made up of stamps featuring: Nutley Windmill, East Sussex; New Abbey Corn Mill, Dumfries and Galloway; Ballycopeland Windmill, County Down, Northern Ireland; Cheddleton Flint Mill, Staffordshire; Woodchurch Windmill, near Ashford, Kent and Felin Cochwillan Mill, Gwynedd.
Windmills were first referred to in east and south-east England in records dating from the 12th century, and had become widespread throughout Britain by the end of the 13th century.
Some of the UK’s surviving windmills and watermills are over 400 years old and many are still in working order. A windmill is defined as a machine that converts the energy of wind into rotational energy by means of vanes called sails or blades.
Originally developed for milling grain for food production, windmills were gradually adapted for many other industrial uses including the pumping of water. European millwrights became highly skilled craftsmen and as colonisation grew, windmills spread throughout the world.
As steam power developed, the unpredictable power of the wind became less and less economic and as a result, only a small number of these elegant structures that once extracted power from the wind still exist.
These remaining windmills are an historic and photogenic reminder of a past technological age but a number of mills have been restored either visually, or in some cases back to full working order, as a result of the growing demand for organic and non-manufactured foodstuffs.
Whilst watermills were once commonplace many have lost their machinery and the buildings have been converted for other uses. Fortunately, the original structures of a number of others have been lovingly restored and they have become local tourist attractions.
Watermills were introduced into Britain by the Romans in the 1st century AD. A watermill comprises a mill where power is produced by a large wheel that is turned by moving water. Watermills have played a significant part in shaping British historic landscape and in the development of industry.
As well as powering mills and factories, waterwheels were used in mining, for drainage and hauling materials, for driving agricultural machinery and for pumping water for urban and domestic supply, before new industrial processes and electrically powered machines superseded traditional waterwheels.
Royal Mail spokesperson Philip Parker said: “The windmills and watermills of the UK are much-loved landmarks and reminders of our rich agricultural and industrial heritage. We celebrate six of these fascinating structures with new stamps.”