Windmills were first mentioned in the 12th Century. One was recorded in 1191 A.D. Mills in early times belonged to the Lord of the Manor and were the source of considerable income to him as everyone had to take his grain to be ground in the Lord’s mill and to pay for doing so. The priest and the Lord paid no fee, which was very much resented. Many peasants had a small hand mill in their homes and so escaped paying the tax but if it was discovered the hand mill was confiscated and a fine imposed.
A windmill was designed to work facing the wind and so to function properly the sails had to be turned to face the breeze. The wood of the sails was pitch pine and iron bolts were used to secure each part.
In the 19th Century, Mr Robert Cavil of Barrow owned a mill but some malicious person set it on fire one night and it was utterly destroyed by the morning.
The late John Rigg’s grandfather owned the tower mill in Mill Lane and it was popular with neighbouring farmers. My grandfather, John Grantham Cherry, always took his grain to be ground in Mr Rigg’s mill. Grandpa paid no money but Mr Rigg received one-
Mr and Mrs Ducker, who lived at a farm in the West Marsh, took their grain to Franklyn’s post mill, near The Grange. They had a pony and trap which would hold 2 or 3 sacks. Mother, only a little girl, waved to Mr and Mrs Ducker as they passed her home in Westoby Lane. That would be in the late nineteenth century.
Mr Horton from Norfolk was at one of the Barrow Haven mills. He was a folk singer and sang sea songs. After some time he came to Barrow and worked for the Gas Company. In 1905 he sang to Percy Grainger, the Australian composer, who adjudicated at the Brigg Festival. During this period nicknames and pet names were much used to indicate affection or admiration so Mr Horton was always known as Grassy Horton.
There were three mills in Barrow on Barton Road, the property of the Westoby Family who owned a farm and land there. They were corn mills and later first one and then another was demolished. The third on the south side still stands minus its cap, sails and several courses of bricks but is, even now, a very handsome structure. It belonged to Mrs Manton followed by the Furman’s and now (in 2016) Mr and Mrs Andrew Robinson who must be proud to possess the last remnants of the Barrow windmills – a landmark as so many of them were.
Windmills like ships were regarded as female so one always heard the miller refer to his mill as ‘her’ or ‘she’.
Editor's Note: my thanks go to Trevor Cherry for this article. There is no photo of the third mill that was in Barrow.