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Marsh Mill, Thornton
Marsh Mill in Wyre, Fleetwood Road, Thornton, Lancashire
Marsh Mill, Thornton
associated engineer
Ralph Slater
date  1794
era  Georgian  |  category  Windmill  |  reference  SD334425
ICE reference number  HEW 617
photo  Anna J. Dunkerley
This manorial mill is the finest remaining windmill in northwest England and illustrates the three distinguishing characteristics of the Fylde tower mills of Lancashire.
Built by the millwright Ralph Slater for Bold Fleetwood Hesketh, the Lord of the Manor who enclosed the local marshes in 1800, this magnificent tower mill formed the centrepiece of his agricultural estate.
Lancashire's Fylde tower mills had three main features which distinguished them from those in other parts of England. Firstly, externally stuccoed towers, which were whitewashed with tallow added to the final coats to aid waterproofing, the towers being broad in relation to their heights, providing more spacious interiors.
Secondly, tarred timber caps in the shape of up-turned boats, and thirdly, they had caps restrained against wind forces by 'cap centerings' ('well frames'), slung beneath the shear beams of the caps, with wheels running against the interiors of the tower walls below curb level.
Lancashire mills also had sails that tapered towards their tips and were braced in their middle thirds by wrought iron tie rods.
Marsh Mill has a 70ft high tower, a 'Lees Flyer' fantail, an external timber 'reefing gallery' at the second floor level for setting the sails, and was originally fitted with a wooden windshaft and 'common' canvas sails. The sails were later replaced by 'roller reefing' sails and finally in 1895 by 'patent' sails with a hollow cast iron windshaft.
The mill retains its original wooden machinery, with some iron governors and four sets of stones, one with Mead's tentering gear adjusting the gap between the stones, invented only seven years before the mill was built.
The mill was restored by the late Walter Heapy, Chairman of the Marsh Mill Preservation Society, during a 20 year period from 1965, commemorated by a plaque on the ground floor.
Slater's other mills are at Clifton (SD464312, circa 1800, now part of a pub) and Pilling (SD407487, 1808, now a dwelling).
Upgraded in 2005 to Grade 2* Listed Building.
Research: PD
"A Guide to Marsh Mill"
Thornton Windmill Preservation Society, 1973
"A History of the Marsh Mill, Thornton: Measured Study"
R.B. Butler et al
Architecture North West, 1964
"The Windmill Trails of the Fylde" by K. Davies
Scott Willen Publications, Burnley, 1985
reference sources   CEH NorthWofEEngW

Marsh Mill, Thornton