Lessons from a windmill visit

Cold air is heavier than warm air. Most of us know this…but did you know cold air drives a windmill faster than warm air? Apparently the light breeze we had yesterday wouldn’t have moved the sails of the St Anna windmill in the summer. Instead we had a beautifully spinning windmill.

We learnt this and other facts thanks to two lovely volunteers, who took 3 hours out of their day to set up St Anna windmill to run and spent an hour with us to show us around.

Setting up the windmill

The things we also learnt:

  • The top of the windmill just sits on the top of the body, not really anchored in anyway except through its weight. It is over 20,000 kg and can be turned around by one man so the sails can face the direction of the wind for milling.
  • How can  you tell which way the wind blows?

Here are the notes from my 5 year old:

Lessons to learn at a windmill

  • The sails are set manually, with the miller climbing up to set them.
  • Normally the windmill is stopped at 3,6,9,12 o’clock position, but changing this has been used to sign in war times or more recently it was set to 1,4,7,10 when the miller passed away earlier this year.
  • What do you think it means to be:

Milling for the prince?

During the 80 year war (1568-1648) the enemy, the Spaniards, would surround a village or town waiting for food to run out and then attack a weakened, starving population. Prince of Orange, William, ordered the millers let the windmill turn even with the mill running empty, thus confusing the enemy into thinking they still had food and hold off on the attack.

  • The millstones have an outward spiraling pattern and the grooves get thinner. It was the miller’s job to chisel these when the millstone became blunt.

Mill stone

  • The miller was be paid in grains. He would take one 24th of the produce if they brought it to him and one 16th if he had to pick it up (see his scoop in the picture below).

St Anna windmill Tungelroy mumonthebrink tour

  • It is also thought that he often wore wide sleeves so he would scoop not only with his scoop but his sleeve too.

No wonder he had one of the prettiest houses in the village!;-)

Beautiful house in the Netherlands

We had a lovely time learning about physics, engineering, culture and history and food production. Little Miss (5 years old) drew this picture to show her friends when she’s back in school next week:

5 year olds understanding of what happens at a windmill

St Anna windmill is a relatively young windmill built in 1875. It is in the small village of Tungelroy, in the South of the Netherlands. The mill is run by volunteers who have to run it atleast 8 hours a month to keep the parts working. It is funded by donations and Weert city council.

St Anna windmill Tungelroy mumonthebrink beautiful


What did you get up to this half term?

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