Windmills - frequently asked questions


How do windmills work?

Read my History and Development page, and check out the links given there.

What windmills are open to the public?

The best reference for windmills (and watermills) in the UK that are open to the public is Mills Open published by the SPAB Mills Section.

Many mills make a special effort of opening for National Mills Weekend which is the second weekend in May.

How do wind turbines work?

There's a good introduction available from the US Department of Energy.

Where can I buy a windmill to pump water or generate electricity?

I've never bought a windmill for these purposes, so don't have any first-hand recommendations.

However, there are many manufactures and sellers listed on my Wind Engines page.

Where can I get plans to build a windmill?

Well what do you mean by build a windmill?

The most accurate set of mill drawings that I know of that are available for purchase are the David Wray measured scale drawings of Pitstone windmill. These were prepared for the National Trust when they were restoring the mill. The copyright of these drawings now rests with the archives of the Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading.RG6 6AG, and they can supply the set of 8 drawings as plan-sized photocopies, for £40 including postage (price accurate as of April 2004) - cheque payable to the University of Reading. These plans were used by Eric Edwards to produce an award winning model of Pitstone.

There are a number of accurate windmill survey drawings in the Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record

Maybe you don't want plans for a full size mill to grind grain, but perhaps you mean something else:

You could also check out this list of windmill drawings to see if there is something else suitable.

If you are looking to build a little turbine to power a torch bulb, then Science Fair Wind Generators is probably just what you need.

I've got to write an essay on windmills - do you have one I can use?

Sorry, but you will have to write this yourself! However you should find all the info you need either on this site, or on one of the numerous sites that I link to.

Where can I stay in a windmill?

See my Accommodation in Wind and Watermills page.

I need a windmill as a location for a TV programme or movie.

It sometimes feels as if I'm a full time location scout! Let me know your requirements in as much detail as you can, and I'll see if I can suggest somewhere suitable.

Where are the windmills shown in the WindmillWorld logo?

These are some of the windmills at Consuegra, in Spain. You can find a larger image on my World Photo Tour page.

I need to illustrate a book or CD. Can I licence your images?

The images on this site are deliberately degraded, so as to optimize them for delivery over slow connections to display on a computer screen. I do have higher quality versions available for most images, that might be suitable.

I've got a breakthrough in windmill technology. Would you like to buy it?

I'm not a windmill manufacturer, merely an enthusiast for these wonderful machines. As such, I'm not your ideal sales target!

Which way do windmill sails rotate?

Despite masses of web pages that claim otherwise, and plenty of quizbooks as well, there are examples of windmills whose sails rotate clockwise, and examples that rotate anticlockwise.

The direction is always taken from in front of the mill, and looking at the sails, the solid edge is the leading edge. An example of nearby similar mills whose sails rotate in opposite directions can be seen in Cambridgeshire at Bourn (anticlockwise) and Great Gransden (clockwise).

This picture of Windmills on Saaremaa, Estonia shows a pair of mills whose sails rotate in opposite directions.

Where is the tallest windmill

See my page on The tallest windmill.

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Last updated 03/03/2017 Text and images © Mark Berry, 1997-2017 -