Windmills

The earliest reference to a windmill describes how Abu hu’lu’a, a Persian “builder of windmills”, was captured after he had assassinated the Caliph in A.D. 644. Windmills in Seistan, on the borders of Iran and Afghanistan, were mentioned by al-Mas’udi in his encyclopaedia published in A. D. 947 These were horizontal mills, in which the sails rotated horizontally on a vertical shaft, and such mills have persisted until today in that part of the world. It is thought that the earliest vertical windmills in Western Europe may have been invented by Crusaders returning from Persia, where they saw the horizontal type.

European post-mills and cylindrical tower-mills (Jan de Strada – late sixteenth century).

Towards the end of the eighteenth century, John Hill a famous Grahamstown miller, built a horizontal windmill with two pairs of stones in Grahamstown. It is probable that the horizontal windmill was an adaptation of the horizontal “Greek” water-mill, and that the familiar windmill with vertically rotating sails (like Mostert’s Mill) was derived from the Vitruvian water-mill. The vertical type appears to have been invented in north-west Europe where the first reference to a windmill is of one in Normandy when in A.D. 1180 there is a record of a piece of land near a windmill being granted to the Abbey of St. Sauvere de Vicomte. The dated records tend to support the theory that the idea of a windmill was first introduced by returning Crusaders

Post Mills

Post Mills – This type of mill is supported and pivoted on a single stout upright post, so that the whole “buck” or body of

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Wind-engines

Local Windmills – Today the commonest windmill in South Africa is the familiar steel wind-pump. These are particularly prevalent in the arid highveld region, where

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Hollow Post Mills

Hollow Post Mills – Wooden hollow-post windmills were used for lifting water and irrigation. One of the early hollow-post windmills in South Africa was built

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Smock mills

Smock Mills – A third type of vertical windmill is the ‘smock-mill’, which was probably a wooden derivative from the stone or brick tower-mill, and

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Tower mills

Tower Mills – The commonest type of windmill in South Africa is the ‘tower-mill’, which has a cylindrical or truncated-cone of brick or stone surmounted

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Local Windmills

Local Windmills – The crude tower-mills built at the Cape before the end of the seventeenth century suffered so badly from the strong south-east winds

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