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Listed Building record MDR5461 - Cat and Fiddle Windmill, Dale Abbey

Type and Period (1)

  • (Georgian to 21st Century - 1788 AD? to 2050 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

At SK 43793978 there is a disused wooden post-mill with sails. (1) Cat and Fiddle Mill, Dale Abbey. This timber-framed rectangular mill (also known as Dale Abbey Mill) is one of the finest extant post mills in the country. It is dated 1788 on an upper crosstree, but this does not necessarily prove the date of construction. The mill was originally built as an open-trestle mill, but was thought to have been converted in 1844 into a Midlands-type mill (one of only three preserved in the country), when the present roundhouse, of brick and sandstone, was added. The mill was not raised and to allow free access below the crosstrees, the floor was constructed below ground level. The mill continued to operate until finally ceasing work in 1952, although still in working order. (2-5) Cat and Fiddle Mill. Windmill of Midlands post type (ie with body rotating about head of post but with added support via rollers from roundhouse below). Dated 1788 on upper cross tree. The machinery is almost in working condition. (6) The only Derbyshire windmill in working order, the only post mill, and one of only two surviving windmills in the county. (7) The windmill is described in some detail in a report of 1981. It is a Midlands-type of post mill. The four brick piers supporting the cross trees are sunk into the windmill mound, so that the roundhouse floor is some distance below the outside ground level. The roundhouse wall is built of coursed sandstone blocks, probably from the adjacent quarry. The structure of the roundhouse implies that it was built as an integral part of the mill on this site. The timber framed and clad body of the mill is carried on the post and three iron wheels which run on the iron track on the roundhouse curb. The massive post is apparently a later replacement. The mill roof is a simple double-pitch gable roof with a slight curve to the rafters. It is felt covered. The timber frame of the mill body is clad with ship-lap boarding, creosoted black, and there is a timber 'petticoat' of vertical boards around the top of the roundhouse to prevent weather access. The tail pole is a recent replacement and was in fact a telegraph pole. There are 14 posts let into the mound in a circle to which the mill can be hitched to face any direction. The mill has four sails which turn clockwise when viewed from the front (the most common direction of rotation on surviving English mills is anti-clockwise). Inside are two pairs of millstones: on the left hand side (when facing the front of the mill) are a pair of 1.4m diameter Derbyshire grey stones, and on the right hand side are a pair of 1.2m diameter French burr stones. The former were used for grinding animal feeds, the latter for grinding wheat flour. A corn drying kiln once stood to the south-east of the mill. Drying grain at the mill ceased about the end of the 19th century and the kiln was pulled down. Other buildings associated with the mill are the miller's house [see SMR 18751 and a range of outbuildings to the north [see SMR 18752] (8) The Cat and Fiddle post mill with the date 1788 on timbering. In private ownership, visiting by appointment only and payment of fee. This is the only post mill in Derbyshire. (9) This Grade II* listed post mill [now Grade 1] stands on a rounded hilltop. The origin of the name 'Cat and Fiddle' is not clear, nor is the date of construction of the mill. The date of 1788 carved in an upper cross tree may be the date when the mill was built, but it was common practice to re-use timber from old mills. It was initially built on a mound on top of the hill as an open trestle construction The sandstone roundhouse was added in 1841 to provide additional storage capacity. It was eventually converted, at a date unknown, into a Midland type post mill. In 1912 the mill was purchased by Stanton Iron Works Co Ltd and for many years was maintained by them. A painting of the mill in 1832 shows it as a complete and well cared for structure. It ceased commercial operation in 1952. It was sold by tender in 1982 by its then owners, the British Steel Corporation, and passed into private ownership, together with the adjacent mill cottage. It suffered considerable damage as a result of strong winds in 1987 and again in 1995, but both times was repaired. It is not known if the mill is operational. (10) [This source includes more details than are given here, including dimensions, machinery etc.] Much earlier origins for a windmill on the site are suggested by a map of the Lordship of Dale dated 1601. This names Cat and Fiddle Lane and, although it doesn't show a windmill, it names two of the fields to the east of the lane as Windmill Hill. (11)

Sources/Archives (11)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Brown, R J. 1976. Windmills of England. pp 64-65.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: DOE (HHR) Borough of Erewash Derby Dec 1960 9.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: DOE (HHR) Borough of Erewash Derby Feb 1982 1.
  • <4> Personal Observation: F1 BHS 01-DEC-66.
  • <5> Index: Council for British Archaeology (CBA). CBA Industrial Archaeology Report Card. Cat & Fiddle, Dale Abbey, 1968.
  • <6> Bibliographic reference: DOE Listed Bldgs Dist of Erewash Derby 6 Nov 1986 10.
  • <7> Bibliographic reference: Pevsner, N. 1979. The Buildings of England: Derbyshire. 2nd ed., revised. p163.
  • <8> Unpublished document: Major, J & Watts, M. 1981. Dale Abbey Mill, Derbyshire. HER Doc. No. 1359.
  • <9> Bibliographic reference: Fowkes, D. 1986. Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology - A Gazetteer of Sites. Part II - Borough of Erewash. p 8.
  • <10> Bibliographic reference: Gifford, A. 2003. Derbyshire Windmills Past and Present. pp 15-17, illust..
  • <11> Map: Oldfield, J. 1601. A Survey of the Lordship of Dale in the County of Derby.



Grid reference Centred SK 437 397 (15m by 15m) Centre

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

  • EDR3975
  • EDR707

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Record last edited

Jan 26 2024 3:08PM

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