It isn’t very often that you get to see a working windmill but I came upon one in Anglesey.
Lynnon Mill is in Llanddeusant, not far from Valley and the RAF base. The mill is striking with its white walls and huge sails set in the beautiful green countryside. It isn’t till you stand underneath that you can appreciate its size.
Included on the site is a shop on site selling locally produced goods, the original granary, a pair or reconstructed iron age round houses and a cafe.
Maldyn, who works in the shop said, “There used to be 54 windmills on the island and now this is the only one left.”
“Does it actually work?” I asked.
“Yes, and we have a full time miller who makes the flour.” He indicated the shelf behind me and there were bags of flour all lined up. He served a lady with some flour and handed her a Bara Brith recipe card as well. They spoke in Welsh for a moment and she left.
I noticed that on the front of the bag of flour, it said 1776, which of course, couldn’t be the date, could it?
“Oh yes,” said Maldyn, who had worked in the shop for the past six years, “That’s how long the windmill has been here.”
I was surprised, as not many buildings exist from that time period. I bought my ticket and Maldyn offered me a piece of advice. “When you go up the windmill, it is better to come down backwards.”
I wasn’t really sure what he meant until I saw the steep, open plan wooden staircases. They weren’t far off being ladders. The ground floor had plenty of information boards giving descriptions of how flour was made.
I made my way up the staircase and caught sight of the view from the windows. It felt magical treading in the steps of millers and I imagined them looking out on the same view over literally hundreds of years.
While I was up there, a boy came up, had a quick scout around and went down again, more sprightly than I did, I might add. Maldyn was right and it wasn’t for the faint hearted going down backwards
As I went outside, the boy with with his mum and grandma. “No,” said his gran, “There are some that can get up and there are some that can’t. I can’t. I’m quite happy to sit here though.”
There was plenty to see and read about if you didn’t want to climb the stairs.
The weather was exceptional that day. Anglesey has a mild equable climate where spring generally comes earlier than on the mainland. Therefore Anglesey and its exposed areas are ideally suited for windmills. It did have over 50 in the area at one time, but gradually millers diminished as few people wanted to take apprenticeships that didn’t have prospects. The windmills became difficult to repair and costly to maintain and many of them fell into disrepair and were demolished.
During the summer and autumn whenever there was a good wind to turn the sails, the miller would have been busy making flour. His family would bag it and then take it to market and local bakeries in sacks.
Thomas Jones, was the first miller in 1775 and by 1841, his son, also called Thomas had taken over. He and his wife also farmed the land that went with the mill. By 1881, a cousin, William Prichard was working it, so it had actually stayed with the same family for over 100 years.
In1882 Robert Rowland, a popular and genial man, was the last miller of Lynnon Mill. During mid summer, he and his family provided a party for the local village children. It was a grand affair with a feast of food laid out on a table. He also arranged games and one was a lucky dip. He would a cask with bran and bury little gifts. Rowland was a hardworking man but after a storm in 1918 the mill sails would no longer turn.
The owner of the mill wouldn’t foot the bill, nor would he compensate Rowland for the repairs he had done and sadly the mill was forced to close. He continued working the land at the farm until 1929 when he retired. Sadly within a week of moving to his native village of Rhydwyn, his wife died. Some time later, he died and was buried with his wife.
In 1953 Anglesey Council wanted to buy a windmill to restore and preserve for the future and they chose Llynnon Mill. It was estimated that it would cost £4,967 to bring it back to full working order and about £3,000 to preserve it. But things did not go to plan and a storm the following year caused further damage.
Nothing further was done due to other circumstances until 1965 and by then restoration costs had risen to almost £9,000. Further discussion followed and there were problems with the owner, and costs continued to rise. In 1974 due to government changes the Anglesey Council ceased to exist and the new Anglesey Borough Council took over and spent £120,000 having it restored.
Thompson and Son of Alford, Lincolnshire sent four millwrights to Llanddesant, and during the summer months of the restoration they lived with local families.
Negotiating the winding, narrow maze of country roads did cause a bit of a problem for the millwrights. On one occasion they were returning to Lincolnshire and had been travelling for ten miles when they came across a sign that said Llanddesant 1½ miles and realised they had been driving in circles.
It took three years in all to bring Llynnon Mill back to full working order and a full time miller was employed.
As I went back to the car park after a pleasant afternoon, I found a pair of glasses lying on the gravel. So I took them to the shop and handed them to Maldyn.
“I’m getting a full set now,” he said, “I already have a coat, a hat and walking stick in lost property.”
So if you do take a trip to Anglesey, the windmill is a great day out and in a lovely setting and not expensive
Tel: +44 (0)1407 730797
Easter to September, 11am-5pm daily and bank holiday Mondays.
Open at weekends and half term holiday during October.