Behold! A giant am I!
A windmill for a retired pirate!
The mill was built in around 1813 by privateer, Edward Berry. After years of privateering and sacking of French ships, during the Napoleonic Wars, Berry decided to take up farming and settled down in the Vale of Usk, where he built the mill and nearby farms. The mill was used to grind wheat. Mr Evan Williams (owner in 1959) recalled - "The man who placed the windmill here knew his business. No matter how calm the day may be elsewhere there is always a wind on this field" (extract from a newspaper article printed in 1959 by Monmouthshire Historian, Fred Hando).
|The mill has been a ruin since around 1830|
sketch by Fred Hando
Llancayo windmill was a tower or "smock" mill., so called because of the way it resembled the 'smocks' worn by farmers and millers. At the summit, the cap was arranged to support the shaft and the sweeps (sails), and to rotate so that the sweeps faced into the wind. This type of windmill first appeared in the 16th century. The walls of the tower are 2'2" thick, the diameter at ground level is 26' and there are five floors.
The working life of the mill was short, it was destroyed by fire in around 1830. No-one knows for sure how the mill burnt down, but the favoured story is that on a still summer morning the miller went to market leaving the sweeps (sails) coupled to the gearing. A fierce wind blew up, the coupling became red hot and the brakes ignited the timber. When the miller returned the mill was a flaming torch and past saving.
|Thanks to local artist Greta Hart, for allowing me to include this lovely |
sketch she made of the ruined mill late 1980's
|The mill tower prior to renovation|
As a child I remember going to Usk Show which was held during the 1960s and 1970s on fields at Llancayo, and seeing the ruined windmill and wondering what it looked like before the fire, so it is wonderful to see the windmill restored in all its glory. I have included some links to some walks that incorporate views of the windmill at the foot of this page.
|The fully restored mill is a wonderful sight - taken from near the river|
Behold! A giant am I!
Aloft here in my tower,
With my granite jaws I devour
The maize, and the wheat, and the rye,
And grind them into flour.
I look down over the farms;
In the fields of grain I see
The harvest that is to be,
And I fling to the air my arms,
For I know it is all for me.
I hear the sound of flails
Far off, from the threshing-floors
In barns, with their open doors,
And the wind, the wind in my sails,
|Photo by Clare Scutts|
I stand here in my place,
With my foot on the rock below,
And whichever way it may blow
I meet it face to face,
As a brave man meets his foe.
And while we wrestle and strive
My master, the miller, stands
And feeds me with his hands;
For he knows who makes him thrive,
Who makes him lord of lands.
On Sundays I take my rest;
Church-going bells begin
Their low, melodious din;
I cross my arms on my breast,
And all is peace within.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1880
Unless otherwise stated, photos apart from those taken by myself, courtesy of the Llancayo Windmill website