The history of windmills on the present site, as far as the written record goes, begins in the 14th century when a windmill was mentioned in an “Inquisition Post Mortem” which was an English medieval record of the death, estate and heir of one of the King’s “Tenants-in-Chief” otherwise known as feudal barons. The miller at that time was William Reigate who paid an annual rent of 6d (2.5p today) or a pair of gilt spurs to the owner Arnold de Buckton. In 1575 two windmills were recorded on the site; one of them was marked on Jeffreys’ map of 1772 and is
believed to have survived until 1826. It is mentioned in a deed of that year as being a “post mill” (see Heritage Statement for description of mill types). This was replaced in around 1850 by the tower mill which we see today. We were extremely fortunate to obtain from an internet search a copy of a painting done in 1878 which clearly shows the windmill and Mill Farm to which it belonged. It is reproduced below and bears a striking resemblance to the same view today.
We see the mill again 25 years later. This is a photograph taken by a publisher from Leeds. It was later hand-coloured and offered for sale as a picture postcard. Edwardian visitors would send it to family and friends telling about the holiday they had spent at Filey. We were delighted to find and purchase one of the originals on ebay and we have used the image as a header to these web pages. As can be seen the mill already had two of its four sails dismantled, the remains of them are visible in the 1910 picture, lying alongside the cart track. This happened frequently when expensive repairs were required and not considered to be economically viable. The mill still ground corn but nowhere near as efficiently, especially when the winds were light. The next evidence of the mill’s decline comes from the photograph on the right, taken by the Reverend Stanwell in 1910, after storm force winds had wrecked the fantail and badly damaged the two remaining sails. This was the point of no return for the old mill as shortly afterwards the cap, sails and the whole third storey were dismantled and a crude temporary roof made from old floorboards over which concrete was poured. This kept the weather out and unbelievably lasted until 2010 when the present owners had a very lucky escape - of which more later! There are several theories about why the mill was reduced to a “stump”, which was not an unusual occurrence as windmills gradually fell out of use around this time. Certainly the mechanical parts which remained intact would have had a value for other mill owners. The wind shaft, the brake wheel, the curb and various parts of the milling machinery would have been especially valuable. Also
removing the cap and general “top hamper” would serve to consolidate the structure and prevent further deterioration. Another possibility is that, following the devastation wreaked by the German Grand Fleet when they shelled Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool early in the First World War, causing several thousand mainly civilian casualties, including many deaths, the War Office anxious to remove any landmarks that might assist the enemy’s navigation took drastic action. The mill was clearly visible from the North Sea and was used by the local fishing fleet as a “mark” when entering the bay so there was a credible case for ordering it to be dismantled in return for a generous state subsidy. Whatever the reason, repairing the mill was obviously not considered an economic proposition as it was already becoming apparent that the age of wind power was passing. The arrival of the railways made the transport of grain easier and less expensive and steam and electricity were proving more reliable sources of power than the ever changing strength of the wind.
The next sighting we get is the photograph below taken by William Muggeridge in 1955. It had survived intact through the Second World War providing storage for the farmer and shelter for his animals during those turbulent times and had been well maintained over the 45 years since we last saw it; its windows and doors were intact and it looks in reasonably good condition. Unfortunately this state of affairs did not last. An unknown photographer took the next shot on the left
in 1980 and despite its poor quality we can clearly see the mill has been totally neglected for a long time and looks to be in a very sorry state. The windows and doors have rotted away, weeds are growing out of the roof and the protective pitch coating had almost all gone. It is obviously still proving of some use to the farmer as an animal shelter but clearly it was having no money spent on it and being allowed to become dilapidated.
Muston Mill 1955
Muston Mill 1980
Finally and sadly we see the mill’s desperate condition when we purchased the field in 2002. It is hard to believe it could be possible to bring it back to its former impressive stature standing tall once again on the hill above the town. Despite
this after 15 years research, hard work and a steadfast refusal to admit defeat in the face of adversity we are already well on our way to achieving that goal.
Muston Mill 2002
The last photograph on this page was taken in the spring of 2011. It gives the reader a glimpse of the mill after we had carried out emergency repair work and made the building weatherproof and secure. Permission, fortunately, was not needed to do this as the inevitable long delay would have
meant it would be too late for us to save the fast crumbling structure from complete ruin. The next page lists details of the work we did to provide protection for the structure thus gaining the time necessary to complete our twelve year struggle to obtain planning permission.
The years rolled by and the mill, now much reduced in stature, sat in its field without anything of note taking place. We meet it again in 1942 during the Second World War when one of our twin-engined Wellington bombers piloted by Australians ran out of
fuel returning from a mission and was fortunately able to make an emergency landing in the mill field. The crew were unhurt and the aircraft was not too badly damaged as can be seen from the photograph inset. The mill itself is just out of view on the right hand side.