Tyke Towers - Yorkshire's Windmills


Tyke Towers - Yorkshire's Windmills Alan Whitworth's latest book on Yorkshire windmills carries the title Tyke Towers - an attractive phrase, but one whose derivation is not explained in the book - perhaps it means more to Yorkshire readers than it does to me!

(Update: Sept 2006. I have been provided with the following explanation: "Tyke is the Yorkshire word for terrier, and so a Yorkshire tyke is a Yorkshire terrier. By extension, this phrase is used to mean a Yorkshireman, particularly one who is unafraid to take on much larger opponents. Hence "Tyke Towers" means "Yorkshire Towers").

The book unashamedly aims to illustrate Yorkshire windmills for the amateur, covering around 100 mills including those still standing, and selected important vanished mills. Many of the included photographs date from the 1930's, where they have been selected from the Muggeridge Collection of Mill Photographs at the University of Kent. These are supplemented by a number of drawings and other illustrations from the author's general collection, plus more photographs taken by the author throughout the 1990's.

Each illustrated mill is accompanied by a brief history, but these are largely secondary to the illustrations - readers wanting more details on the windmills are referred to the author's earlier book, entitled simply Yorkshire Windmills, or to Roy Gregory's book East Yorkshire Windmills. The opportunity has however been taken where necessary to correct or add new information not covered by the previous volume.

Yorkshire's remaining windmills consist solely of tower mills, but the brief introductory chapter tells the story of the county's historic windmills from the earliest English windmill reference, at Weedley in 1185, onwards. This early post mill is of course long vanished, but there are also tales of more recent losses - such as the mystery of Little Smeaton post mill, which vanished in August 1961. The local villagers were informed the mill had been dismantled to be re-erected in a museum, but this failed to happen and the trail of what happened to the structure has long run cold.

Of the remaining mills, some are derelict, whilst many have been converted to alternative uses, and the towers have often been truncated, or otherwise modified and built upon. However, the county does have one surviving working mill, at Skidby, which is covered by the book, including contact info for the museum it now houses.

There is also hope in the (alphabetically) last entry in the book, that another magnificent and mostly complete mill at Holgate in the county town of York, can be rescued and restored.

The book also includes a glossary of technical terms, and a gazetteer of all known corn windmill sites in Yorkshire, with dates and grid references.

For another review of the book, see The Millers' Tales, and it may be purchased from Culva House Publications.

"Tyke Towers - Yorkshire's Windmills" by Alan Whitworth, ISBN 1 87289557 3, Landy Publishing, 2002 - paperback, 84 pages.

For more info on the county's windmills, see also



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