The Smock Mill
There was once TWO Windmills at Outwood
A matter of yards from the post mill at Outwood once stood a grand smock windmill, built in 1792 by William Budgen, a relative of the then Miller of Outwood.
The smock mill was built as the result of a bitter family feud between William Budgen, the then miller and his nephew Ezekiel Budgen and was so called from the resemblance of the wooden tower of the mill to the smock of a countryman.
No expense was spared on this mill as it was designed to put the post mill out of business. This new and monster sized mill had all the latest technology built into it such as grain cleaners and flour dressers and at some point it even had a steam engine built into it that would turn the stones when their was no wind. No expense was spared in the construction of this Smock mill.
To give visitors an idea of the differences in monies that were spent in the construction of these two windmills legend has it that the Wind Vane that is located on the wooden Garage on the property adjacent to the Post Mill at Outwood is the one from the smock mill – when compared to the vane on Outwood Mill one can see how much more ornate and grand it is.
Outwood Post Mill and The Smock Mill, Outwood Comon circa 1900
Technical Details of the Smock Mill
Outwood Smock Mill, also known as High Mill, was a tall smock mill of five storeys, with a stage at first floor level. It was built on a low brick base less than 2 feet (610 mm) high. The cant posts were 48 feet (14.63 m) long, and the mill stood 62 feet (18.90 m) high to the top of the cap. This made it the tallest smock ever built, although not the tallest smock mill (Union Mill, Cranbrook takes that honour).
Unusually, the ground floor was above ground level, at a height of about 3 feet (910 mm). The smock was 26 feet (7.92 m) across the flats at the base, and 13 feet (3.96 m) at the curb.
The cap was 13 feet (3.96 m) by 11-foot-6-inch (3.51 m) in plan, and winded by a five bladed fantail. The four sails were Spring Patents, spanning 80 feet (24.38 m), carried in a cast iron Windshaft. The Brake Wheel was 9-foot-10-inch (3.00 m) diameter, driving a 4 feet (1.22 m) diameter cast iron Wallower. This had replaced an earlier Wallower of 4-foot-8-inch (1.42 m) diameter which bore a date of 1864, indicating that the mill had three wallowers in a working life of 117 years.
The wooden Upright shaft was sixteen-sided, 20 inches (510 mm) across the flats, with a dog clutch allowing the windmill to be disconnected when the mill was being driven by the portable engine. The wooden Great Spur Wheel was 8-foot-8-inch (2.64 m) diameter, with 120 cogs. The mill drove four pairs of overdrift millstones, one pair bearing a date of 1859.
The Demise of the Smock Mill at Outwood
The two Windmills at Outwood became known as “the Cat and the Kitten” with the much smaller post mill being the kitten. As if to add insult to injury the smock mill was also built on Outwood Common just 40 yards from the original post mill.
This mill did not need to be turned into the wind by hand, as it was fitted with a fantail which drove the top or cap of the mill round, in order to bring the sails into the wind. The fantail had been invented some 45 years earlier by an engineer named Edmund Lee, and from the date of its introduction no doubt saved many a windmill from being tailwinded and blown over in gales.
The working life of the Outwood Smock mill was shortened by ill fortune, which, assisted by too many visits to the nearby inn The Bell, put the newcomer, and not the old-timer out of business.
Photo courtesy of Mills Archive Trust
As fate would have it, the smock mill was blown down in a gale in 1960, while Outwood Post Mill still stands today, thanks to the efforts of its numerous owners and supporters, and still mills flour for the benefit of visitors.
The local community decided after the Smock mill at Outwood blew down that they would “assist” in the clean-up operation and its common knowledge that many a new garden shed were erected locally in the months that followed the collapse of the Outwood Smock Mill.
The Smock is still there at Outwood Common but only “in spirit” – the Garage that now stands on the property and the Stable attached to the house that belonged to Sheila Thomas, wife of Gerald Thomas the last miller at Outwood Mill were also built using wood from the collapsed Smock Mill at Outwood.