Preesall Windmill was constructed in 1839. It replaced a peg mill on nearby Mill Lane. This had been destroyed by winds in the first week of that same year. A peg mill (alternatively called a post mill) was the earliest form of windmill, and could be turned on a central vertical post to face the wind. These were often squarish wooden structures.
In contrast, the new Preesall Mill on Park Lane was a brick built, circular windmill. It had a sail span of 76 feet and five storeys above the ground floor. As with so many windmills of this type, a platform encircled it. Soon after its construction, in 1846, a large miller’s house was built close by, and this still stands today.
The very top floor contained the fly wheel that turned the sails. The fourth floor below housed the main mill machinery and revolving shaft. The third floor beneath had the large horizontal wheel that turned the millstone. Under this, on the second floor, the recently milled flour was collected in bins. The first floor contained the mill office where record books were kept and the ground floor was a store room for the sacks of corn.
The Bisbrowns were the milling family that worked at Preesall Mill from between 1845 and the 1920s. The last miller of that family was Thomas Bisbrown. The 1901 census lists him as head of the house with his wife Mary (aged 42) and their children Margaret (12), Annie (10), Thomas Junior (8) and Sarah (1). Sarah Elizabeth (aged 59) is also listed, presumably a grandparent to the children. Thomas died in 1930.
Just a few years before his death, there was substantial damage to the cap and sails after some severe windy weather. This led to both cap and sails being removed in 1926 and the mill then being converted to electricity. The old milling stones were replaced with more modern grinding machines.
The windmill was still operating in 1988, the last in Lancashire to do so. After this, other business uses were found for it. There is a local Facebook page for the mill, and it is worth looking at the many archive pictures of it in its heyday. One subsequent business, Preesall Park Ford, thought that placing a car on top of it would be a good advertising ploy. To view this questionable use, and to see the other archive photographs, click here.
In 1984, the windmill became Grade II listed. The Historic England website describes how it “now rises from an asbestos roof of a modern steel and brick warehouse”. The current owners are A & G Precision and Sons, an engineering firm producing parts for aerospace, Formula 1 and the fossil fuel industries.
Today, Preesall windmill stands looking rather forlorn, with no cap, no sails and in need of whitewash. As one of the last remaining few of the Lancashire windmills, we can hope its protected status will one day ensure it is restored. Perhaps the impressive work done on nearby Pilling Windmill could be an inspiration.
Site visited by A. and S. Bowden 2020
There are good views of Preesall Mill from Park Lane. The business owners have a private car park in front of it. Park locally in a residential street and walk down the pavement on Park Lane to view the mill.
Return to Windmill Land, Michelle Harris and Brian Hughes (2014), Harris & Hughes. Available from Fleetwood Museum shop, or to buy on Lulu.com as ‘print on demand’.
A & G Precision & Sons Ltd website