“ Address: Retford Road / Tuxford / Notts NG22 0NW / England / Tel: 01777-871202 „
During the last Heritage Open Days weekend (September 2009) I was looking for places in my local area to visit that normally make an admission charge and therefore I wouldn't probably bother visiting but because they were free during that weekend I considered that they were worth giving them a try. One such place that I picked out was the Tuxford Windmill.
Tuxford is sleepy little village in North Nottinghamshire and its windmill lies just on the edge of the village on the Great North Road (the old A1) which is the main road from Retford to Newark. If you are approaching it from Retford to the north as I did then it is on the left-hand side of the road. The land around here is quite flat so its not difficult to spot but the entrance road to it is quite easy to miss. From the main road there is a short narrow dirt track that leads up to a car parking area at the side of some tea rooms opposite the windmill.
This is a fully working windmill that is privately owned but it is open for visitors daily (except Tuesday) from 10am until 5pm and at other times by prior arrangement. Visitors normally have to obtain a ticket from the tea rooms but when I visited on Saturday 10th September thanks to the Heritage Open Days scheme admission was free. The usual admission fee is however normally only £2 per person.
The windmill was built in the 1820's and restored to its current condition between 1982 and 1993. It currently produces flour that is used the tea rooms, which are owned by the same people that own the windmill and also a further 26 other outlets in the region.
Upon arrival we were greeted by the owner who told us that we were free to wander around. Sadly there was insufficient wind on the day that we visited for the blades to turn so the windmill wasn't actually working but nevertheless we could still get a good idea of how it all worked. Apparently the wind speed has to be at least 5 mph for the blades to turn and at least 15 mph to mill the flour. On the day of our visit it was so calm they weren't even budging an inch.
The windmill has three levels. The ground floor occupies the largest space but this is still quite small and there was only enough space for about four people inside so we had to wait for another couple to come out before we could enter. Access to the middle floor is via a set of very steep wooden stairs and access to the top level is via another equally steep set of stairs. The top floor is where most of the heavy machinery is to be found so for safety reasons this was actually out of bounds but you could climb up to the top of the ladder and poke your head through the hatch.
As a working windmill the environment is rather dusty and there are only two narrow slits as windows on each floor to allow in the daylight so it is also quite dark. It certainly wouldn't be able to be visited by anyone with mobility issues or unsupervised children. From the top floor there is a chain that descends right down to the ground floor via holes in the floor. Looking down through the hole to the floor below looked a very long way down and was quite a sobering experience.
If I am honest I didn't feel that there was a lot to see here and I was a little bit disappointed that it wasn't windy enough to be operating. I would suggest that it worth visiting if you are driving past and have a few minutes to spare. The views from the top floor of the windmill are very impressive and you really can quite literally see for miles.
After visiting the windmill for free I thought that it was only fair to check out the tea rooms and I am pleased that I did. This is quite a large modern building and although I only had a cup of coffee the food that I saw looked and smelled delicious. Everything that is sold here is freshly baked on the premises using the flour from the mill and there was a selection of sandwiches and cakes on sale. The coffee was freshly ground and very nice and was also fair trade apparently according to the menu on the wall. Other items on the menu included home made soup with bread and scones with jam and cream.
Tuxford Windmill carries out regular guided tours for local schoolchildren and other small groups and also runs bakery classes.