Pilling Windmill, also known as Damside Mill, was constructed in 1808 to replace an old wooden post mill. Standing at around 73 feet tall, it consists of five storeys above the ground floor. The mill was built by Ralph Slate, who was also responsible for the construction of Clifton Windmill and Marsh Mill at Thornton.
The double shuttered sails turned anticlockwise. These turned two separate upright shafts, which were connected to two sets of grinding stones on different floors. The grinding stones were large, measuring six feet in diameter.
In 1886, steam power was added to turn the lower grinding stones, while the upper ones continued to be turned by the sails. However, soon after, a storm damaged the sails and cap so badly that they were removed. A corrugated iron roof was put in place over the cap frame. The sails were reused at neighbouring Windmill Farm to construct rafters for outhouses.
The General Strike of 1926 meant that the mill was closed and it never reopened. The building was then used to house cattle. It became neglected and trees took root on the top of it.
In 1962, the Evening Gazette reported that Mr R. Baines, a partner in a cycle and toy making firm from Bradford, was driving past Pilling Windmill with his wife. On a whim, he asked his wife if she would like to live in it. When she said that she would, he turned his car around and went to speak to the owner. This was a Mr C. Cookson of Windmill Farm, whose family had owned the building for generations. He agreed to sell.
Much of the mill machinery had remained within the windmill, so this had to all be removed. When the iron cap was taken off the local school children turned out to watch. Mr Baines predicted to the Evening Gazette that the renovation would take 18 months. The large millstones were used in the floor and the garden, and the front and back door frames were made from a wooden drive shaft.
It remained a residential home for the ensuing decades. In 2007, owners Catherine and Nick Edwards commissioned a new cap, as the windmill had stood without one since the 1960s. They commissioned Neil Metcalf, a millwright from Lincolnshire. He designed a traditional ‘Lancashire Boat Cap’ based on the one at Marsh Mill in Thornton. Metcalf constructed the oak beams and iron collar of the cap in Lincolnshire, and then brought them to Pilling to be assembled. They were laid out in a field opposite the mill. The oak frame was covered in a cedar board cladding, which was then painted with tar to weatherproof it. Lead flashing was applied to the edges.
A crane winched the 2.7 tonne cap into place. In keeping with the occasion from four decades ago when the original cap was removed, local primary school children turned out to watch the new one being put into place. The next year, further renovation took place when a traditional balcony was placed around the mill.
In recent years, Pilling Windmill has been on the market for sale a number of times.
Site visited by A. and S. Bowden 2020
Pilling Windmill stands on Taylor’s Lane, from where you can see excellent views of it up close. It is a private residence. Park in Pilling at the small public car park on School Lane. Head up School Lane. Cross over the bridge and take a right onto Taylor Lane. The windmill is just a short way down the road.
A Short History of Pilling Mill. Undated (but recent) pdf document. Available here
mwbishop.wixsite.com/pilling-windmill This website has a wealth of excellent historical photographs of the mill