by Karen J Mossman
In 2001, my parents bought a caravan here on Anglesey and from then until 2016, when we moved to the island, this was our holiday home.
Each year we visited several times and discovered new places. On the way from the A55 and through Llanfwrog, we would always see a sign for Lynnon Mill and I was intrigued. So one day we set off to visit.
Lynnon Mill is in Llanddeusant and the mill is striking with its white walls and huge sails all set in the beautiful green countryside. It’s only when you stand underneath can you appreciate its size.
On site, and to my delight, there was a shop selling locally produced goods, the original granary was now a cafe, and a pair or reconstructed iron age round houses made it a good trip out.
I chatted to Maldyn, who worked in the shop and he told me there used to be 54 other windmills on the island, and this was the only one left. I wondered if the sails still turned and he told me they did, and had a full-time miller who produced flour.
On the shelf there were bags of flour all lined up and as I was gazing at them, a lady bought a pack and was handed a recipe for Bara Brith bread. Some would say it is a cake and you can read more about it here.
I noticed that it said 1776 on the flour and wondered what that referred to. It couldn’t the date, could it? Maldyn, who at that time had worked in the shop for six years, said it was and that’s how long the windmill had been there.
That surprised and delighted me, as I love old buildings and paid my money to go inside. He offered me a piece of advice before I left. “When you go up the windmill, it is better to come down backwards.”
I had no idea what he meant, but smiled and nodded. Inside there were plenty of information boards – and an open plan steep wooden staircase – in fact it could be described as a ladder and not for the faint hearted.
It felt magical treading in the steps of the old millers and I imagined them looking out of the window at same view. Although in 300 years ago, it probably had changed very little.
While I was there, a young boy came up, had a quick scout around and went back down, much sprightlier than I could.
When I eventually came out he was at the bottom with his mum and grandma, and as I passed, I overhead their conversation:
“No,” said grandma. “There are some that can get up and there are some that can’t. I can’t. I’m quite happy to sit here and watching you.”
Thinking of the ladders, I understood what she meant. Even if you couldn’t climb, there was plenty to do and see. Boards of information were everywhere and you could take a tour of the Round Houses, eat in the café, and of course buy flour or other mementos in the shop.
The weather that day was exceptional. The white of the windmill against the clear sky was a treat. I also read Prince Charles had unveiled a plaque in 2007. Hallowed steps, as I looked around.
Anglesey has a mild equable climate where spring generally comes earlier than on the mainland. Therefore its exposed areas are ideally suited for windmills. I still have fun spotting them as I go around the island; most are in disrepair and some just a few bricks showing where it once stood.
Gradually the millers diminished as few wanted to take apprenticeships that didn’t have prospects. The windmills became difficult to repair and costly to maintain and many fell into disrepair and most were demolished.
During the summer and autumn whenever there was a good wind to turn the sails, the miller would have been busy making his flour. His family would have helped with bagging up, which would then be taken to market and local bakeries in sacks.
Herbert Jones built the mill in 1776 and the first miler was Thomas Jones, and by 1841, his son, also called Thomas was the miller. He and his wife farmed the land that went with the mill, and by 1881, a cousin, William Prichard was working it, which meant it had stayed on the same family for over 100 years.
Sometime during the sixteenth century, a treatise was written in Welsh on milling, which gives a list of the miller’s duties. So should you ever consider applying, consider these first:-
- Being hardworking and careful
- You must be living in the mill at all times, or nearby, where you can see the door, apart from when you go to church, or if you have permission from you master to go elsewhere.’
You are not –
- to let the mill stand with grain in it
- let it grind empty
- leave the flour to stand
- leave the sacks open once filled
When working you
- be helpful and kind to those milling with you
- to answer the door when it is knocked the second time, whatever the time of day
- keep the flour of the mill orderly and clean at all times.
However, 1882 Robert Rowland was the next miller. He was a popular and genial man who became the last miller of Llynnon.
At mid summer, Robert and his family provided a party for the local village children. It was always a grand affair with a feast of food. He arranged games and one of them was a Lucky Dip. He filled a cask with bran and buried little gifts for them to find. Robert was a hardworking man but after a storm in 1918 the sails would no longer turn.
The owner of the mill wouldn’t foot the bill, nor would he compensate Robert for the repairs he had already done. Sadly the mill was forced to close. Although Robert continued to work 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.
Out of curiosity, I took a trip to Ryydwyn, visited the church and found his grave where he was buried along with his wife.
In 1953 Anglesey Council wanted to buy a windmill to restore and preserve for the future, and they chose Lynnon. It was estimated that it would cost almost £5,000 to bring it back to full working order, and another £3,000 to preserve it. But things did not go to plan and a storm the following year caused even more damage.
Nothing further was done until 1965 and by then the restoration costs had risen to almost £9,000. Further discussion followed and there were problems with the owner, and costs just 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.
R. 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 – Lynnon Mill – 1½ miles!
It took three years in all to bring the mill back to full working order and a full time miller was then employed – so you couldn’t have had the job anyway!
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.
He told me how he had almost got a full set as he already had a coat, a hat and a walking stick. Very soon, there would be a new shop assistant, but don’t ask him anything, as he’s likely to look right through you!
Further information about the mill can be found on this website – Website