Climb inside a working machine

The mill in elevation

(above) The mill in elevation

The miller controls the fineness of the flour using the tentering screw

(above) The miller controls the fineness of the flour using the tentering screw

Spur wheel and stone nut

(above) The large iron spur wheel drives the smaller stone nut which has wooden teeth of hornbeam


  • The sails of the windmill must face into the wind at all times in order to work.
  • The windmill's five sails are attached to the cap - the timber-framed top of the mill.
  • The fantail turns the cap automatically to face the sails into the wind.
  • All the milling machinery is contained in the stationary brick tower, which has seven floors.


The brick tower (1) of the mill is 64ft (19.5m)  tall. The height of the mill to the finial on top of the cap is just over 80ft (24.4m). This makes Maud Foster mill the tallest working windmill in the country.

The sails are fixed to a stout iron cross (7) which is fixed to the front end of the iron windshaft (6). The speed of the sails are controlled with the aid of a rope and a chain which can be reached from the balcony (9).

The brake wheel (8), mounted on the windshaft, drives the crown wheel (3) at the top of the central upright shaft.

Near the bottom of the upright shaft is the spur wheel (11). This large wheel transmits power to each of the three stone nuts (12) which drive each pair of millstones (5). In each pair, only the upper or runner stone rotates - the lower or bed stone remains stationary. A very fine working gap between the stones causes the grains to be cut open to release the particles inside. Two of the pairs of millstones are Derbyshire Grey stones, a sandstone found in the Peak District. The other pair are of French Burr, a hard quartz quarried in the Paris Basin.

The sack hoist (2) at the top of the mill lifts sacks of grain from the ground floor to the top, ready for milling. Grain is stored in large storage bins (4) and fed into the millstones by gravity, emerging through a spout on the balcony floor as 'wholemeal' flour.

Once it has passed between the millstones, the wholemeal flour is sieved and graded by the Dressing Machine on the 2nd floor to produce white flour, semolina, sharps and bran. Each of these grades can be purchased in the mill shop.

The Roller Mill is situated on the first floor and is used for producing flaked grains for products such as muesli. The machine is very simple, having two heavy iron rollers that can be screwed together to provide the pressure to crush the grain.

There are two mixing machines on the ground floor, one for flour and one for grain. These are used for blending different products together.

The machine at the back of the ground floor is the Hurst Frame, whose electrically-powered grey stones are used on days when there is not sufficient wind to drive the sails.


   Copyright 2023 - Maud Foster Mill Partnership