The KIRKBY MILLS
In a deed of sale
dated 1606 it is stated that the Kirkby Mallory estate had three
working mills, these being one windmill sited to the North of
the village and one wind and one watermill to the South of the
village., see below.
my impression of what the landscape may have looked like in the
mid 18th century. The church and Kirkby Hall are just visible
(top right hand corner)
.A part of the ancient track that serviced the two
mills, to the South of the village.
An early O S village
map has it marked as "Mill Lane" and it followed the
line of Church Spinney to a point where it joined with the Barwell
Lane, running at a right angle, right hand side of picture.
As no records appear to have
survived one can only guess as to the type and design of the windmills
used. The present day sites yield little evidence other than the
occasional red brick or large stone turned up by the plough. The
windmills would have been of either the "Smock" or "Post"type
design, both types being constructed of timber and usually set
on a brick foundation, as the Kirkby mills appear to have been.
The Post mill body was supported on a vertical post, and was turned
into the prevailing wind by means of a tail pole extending from
the rear of the structure. The design of the Smock mill differed
in that only the top cap which supported the wind shaft was capable
of turning, thus leaving the main body stationary.
For more information on windmills click here
day view of the site of the North windmill, corner of the Newbold
/ Bosworth Road, on the edge of village. A small hillock, once
in the foreground of the picture used to mark the spot where
the mill once stood but this has recently been levelled out
Todays site of the South
windmill, edge of Mallory Park. The highest point is left of
the fence. Kirkby church tower can just be seen, top Right hand
The construction of the watermill
on the Kirkby Estate involved some major excavation work. The
Mill was set in a hollow as shown in the picture above. I remember
the site quite well, a grassy dip with a small stream crossing.
There were no foundations to be seen, just a few granite stones
scattered on the North, (wooded) side of the bank. The East /
West sides of the hollow were quite shallow, which would have
enabled carts etc. to cross.
The mill and the
two outbuildings in the above painting are as shown in the O.S.
map, held in the Wigston Records Office.
found that a more efficient mill could be constructed if the
water supply could engage the wheel from either above, or at
an intermediate level instead below. From the engineering it
would appear that the Kirkby Mill was of the former, being constructed
below the Mill Pond .
The mill obtained
its water supply from a millpond fed from two local streams.
The course of these streams was diverted by means of leats, measuring
today approximately 20ft. wide by 6ft. deep . These are quite
large, due no doubt to considerable erosion. But it is quite
conceivable they were made extra wide to retain more water for
The ground fell
away quite steeply in front of the pond, on the North side of
the hollow, and it was here that the Waterwheel would have been
sited. The water left the mill by way of a channel, dug out to
join up with the Barwell brook at the bottom of the meadow
The two leats ran
in opposite directions, one East and the other North West. A
small section of the North West leat can still be seen today
on the edge of a small remnant of the wood. Although silted and
overgrown its dimensions are still visible. See Photo above
James Watt`s steam engine, invented in 1769 was a major
contributor to the industrial revolution, and in so doing signalled
the demise of wind and water power.
See Photo Left.
Where the watermill
once stood, edge of Kirkby Wood, and top of the meadow known
as "Bottom Wood Close. This picture was taken (looking North)
and the mill would have been just left of the trees, centre of
picture. In recent years the hollow has been filled in, the meadows
ploughed and the wood cleared, completely changing the landscape.
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