Speaker Roger Hamilton talking about – Windmills through the ages

Roger Hamilton made a zoom presentation to Bishopsteignton Probus Club members about windmills through the ages.  At the start of his wide-ranging presentation, he said his Dutch wife had encouraged his interest in windmills.

Roger took club members back in time to the first century A.D. to show and talk about an image showing an early Dutch windmill.  He then commented on fourth century windmills in Tibet and China, before talking about the use of wind-power during medieval times in Persia, India and Greece.  He focussed extensively on Dutch windmills, which became slightly more sophisticated in the twelfth century when used to grind corn.  They were further refined as people learnt to produce either coarse or fine flour by adjusting the speed at which windmills turned the crushing wheels.

He explained the link between flooding problems in the Netherlands and the importance of windmills that were used to pump water away from flooded areas, which were very common in the Netherlands.  Windmills created the power needed to lift water from flooded areas through sluice gates and into rivers or the sea.  This reduced the flooding which, in turn, allowed more growth of crops with the need for more windmills to crush the corn.

The presentation included many interesting anecdotes, including the use of windmills to send secret messages to the Dutch resistance during the Second World War.    Communications were created by resting wind veins in different positions.

Many windmills have since been abandoned and decayed, although some have been restored as a reminder of the country’s past reliance on windmills.

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