Windmills with four sails are relatively common throughout the United Kingdom, while mills with five sails are more rare. It’s rarer still to find even a derelict windmill with as many as eight sails, which makes this fully functioning windmill in Heckington highly unusual.
This working eight-sail mill was originally built in 1830 as a more run-of-the-mill (so to speak) five-sail structure. But after a storm blew off the tower’s cap and sails, it was rebuilt in 1892 using the machinery from an eight-sail mill from nearby Boston.
The windmill stopped working in 1946 and deteriorated rapidly, until it was purchased by the local council in 1953. By 2004 the Heckington windmill was fully restored to working order, and it now grinds flour for sale in its shop and, notably, mill malt for the Eight Sail Brewery that is nextdoor. Being inside the mill while it’s working is an experience not to be missed.
The structure today looks rather stark, having been painted in bitumen to keep out moisture. The cap is slightly wider than the tower, giving away the mill’s mongrel origins. Able visitors can also climb up steep ladder-like stairs to the top floors of the six-story tower.
Know Before You Go
Visiting times vary so check the website if you want to go inside. There is also an excellent tea room.
There is an hourly rail service from Nottingham and regular trains from Sheffield and Grantham.