Swannington Hough Mill Swannington Hough Mill Swannington Hough Mill

Mill cap under construction on-site

Mill cap with winding gear fitted

Working on the fantail

Hough Mill - An Early 19th Century Tower Mill

John Griffin bought the site of what was to become Hough Mill from the Enclosure Commissioners in 1804. Originally known as Thringstone Mill, the mill was purchased by John Hough, steward to Sir George Beaumont (9th baronet) in 1877.

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Swannington Hough Mill Swannington Hough Mill

Swannington mill circa 1930's
Swannington mill circa 1930's
It may seem odd that Hough Hill leading up to Hoo Ash Island is at the opposite end of Swannington to Hough Mill. This is because the name was spelt “Huff Hill” and the change of spelling to “Hough Hill” is a more recent invention. The pronunciation of “Hough” rhymes with “Huff” and “rough”.

Our volunteers maintain the mill as such an old building requires a lot of work. They are always trying to develop the mill and their current project is the construction of a brake wheel.

Click to read more about:-

Mills At Swannington

Hough Mill Construction And Operation

Hough Mill Restoration

Wire Machine / Flour Dresser Restoration

The Brake Wheel Project - Updated 30th June 2014

Wallower Project - Updated 22nd October 2014

Mill Visits

Mills At Swannington

At least five windmills have at some time in the past operated on the high land at the north end of the village. The earlier ones were post mills, which were either destroyed by fire or dismantled for re-erection on new locations. The sites of several of these mills are known and well-known local milling families, the Griffins, the Chesters and the Kerbys, worked them.

Post mills have the whole of the body of the mill rotating around a central post, to enable the miller to push on a tail pole to keep the sails pointing into the wind. Hough mill is a tower mill and only the cap at the top of the mill rotates as the wind drives the fantail to move the sails into the wind.

One of these mills was reportedly overturned in a gale in the early part of the 19th century, the man in charge being killed. It was then re-erected on a site nearby and, after operating for a while, was dismantled in 1895 on the death of its owner when parts of the timber and the stones were offered for sale.

Hough Mill Construction And Operation

A tower mill, built by Mr. Griffin at the end of the 18th century, on the boundary between Swannington and Thringstone, replaced an earlier post mill sited nearby. In the mid 1800s it was operated by James Kerby, as a tenant of the Griffins. He paid a rent of £30 per annum for the mill, piggeries and shed but in 1877 the mill with house and land was put up for auction.

John Hough The mill was purchased by John Hough, steward to the Beaumonts of Coleorton, for £1,175 and it continued to be worked by James Kerby and then Walter Chester, who was the last man to work the mill commercially.

The mill finally ceased operation in the early 20th century and then progressively fell into disrepair. It is said that some of its ironwork was removed in 1940 for the war effort and by the time the Trust purchased the site in 1994 all that remained of the listed building was a very badly weathered shell of the tower, with a few rotting floor beams and the last residues of the cap frame.

John Hough, Miller.

Hough Mill Restoration

Encouraged by the efforts of miller Nigel Moon and the expert advice of Consultant John Boucher, the Trust made plans to refurbish the structure by installing windows, doors, floors and a correctly fabricated cap and to install some "stone floor" machinery obtained from a derelict mill.

Mill tower Levelling the top of the tower

The starting point, a subsided brick tower retaining a few rotten beams.
The tower had subsided so it was necessary to realign the top by casting a concrete section which would allow the cap to revolve accurately.

Lowering millstones into the mill Fitting the mill cap

Lowering one of the millstones into position, 1999.
Lowing the cap into position, 1999.
A Mill sub-committee was appointed and was successful in obtaining a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund of up to £70,883, which enabled the satisfactory completion to be made of that stage of the work.

Interpretation panels have been added and two models of wind mills have been made by local craftsmen, a Post Mill and a Tower Mill. The Trust became very proud winners of Leicestershire County Council's Award for Independent Museums 2000, sponsored by the Leicester Mercury.

Mill furniture

Mill furniture was constructed by local craftsmen to house the grinding stones.
In 2010 the cap was lifted off to enable the millright to install the wind shaft and fantail equipment.
In April 2000 The Trust opened to the public its Swannington Hough Mill with a big celebration. Hough Windmill is now open to the public every Sunday from April until the end of September, between 2pm and 5pm.

Mill cap and fantail

The cap was lined with felt and clad with new wood where necessary.
Once fitted the new cap was rotated to ensure that the ring gear and positioning rollers worked freely.

Wire Machine / Flour Dresser Restoration

During the winter of 2004-05 the Trust's volunteer team restored a Wire Machine which was obtained from the demolished, former watermill of nearby Belton. The machine was used to sieve run-of-mill flour in order to produce fine flour by removing partly ground grains. The team:-

constructed a new casing to replace the badly woodworm-eaten original;

refurbished the iron work;

fixed the wire gauzes;

fitted the brush-bars, which push the flour through the gauzes.

Flour dresser Flour Dresser

The restored flour dresser.

Brake Wheel Successfully Installed

It may have taken more than 10 months of precision craftmenship to make the brake wheel, but the careful attention to detail was amply demonstrated with its installation.

The 48 piece brake wheel was dismantled by 10am on the Monday morning and by Tuesday lunch time all 2.5 tonnes had been hauled to the top and the wooden element successfully pieced together onto the wind shaft like a giant wooden multi-dimensional jigsaw puzzle.

Two more Friday mornings was all that it took to add the eight sets of cast iron teeth, each weighing 90 kilos. The next project will be the Wallower, a smaller wheel on the drive shaft which meshes with the Brake Wheel.

Mill brake wheel

Click here to see a complete cross sectional drawing
of a windmill, floor by floor.


After a year of precision woodwork the wallower has been completed. During November 2014 this wheel will be dismantled and hauled through the trap doors to the cap. The wallower will then be fitted near the top of the upright shaft so that the wallower's teeth mesh with the brakewheel teeth.

The wallower was substantially funded with a £2,000 grant from Museum Development East Midlands. For more details on the project CLICK HERE

Wallower wheel at Sswannington Hough Mill

Mill Visits

In April 2000 The Trust opened to the public its Swannington Hough Mill which it had refurbished from a ruinous state with help from the National Heritage Lottery fund. Hough Windmill is now open to the public every Sunday from April until the end of September, between 2pm and 5pm.

Local organisations, schools and historical groups are invited to arrange their own tours at mutually agreeable date and time.

Mill visit Mill visit

Smisby WI visit Hough Mill, August 2013
Smisby WI visited Hough Mill and Gorse Field as part of a walk around Swannington on August 22, and were shown around by one of our guides. He was able to show them the impact of 900 years of coal mining, and explain how the mill operated . If your group would like to visit the mill or have a tour around Gorse field then contact Bill Pemberton at, and you can find details of various walks around Swannington at

Smisby WI visit Hough Mill

Austin Seven Club visit Hough Mill
Austin Seven Club - July 2012 - It was great to see so many Austin Sevens at Hough Mill. Most were built at the Austin factory in Longbridge, Birmingham between 1922 and 1939. A couple were Austin Seven chasis and a body built by a manufacturer at Wembley in London. The car's name came from its seven horse power engine.

Austin Seven Club

Austin Seven Club Austin Seven Club

Folk On The Farm Community Choir, Newbold - July 2012
We provided the choir with a guided walk from the New Inn to Hough Mill and after their exploration it was a great pleasure to listen to their rendition of songs such as the Sloop John B. We hope that they will be back to sing again!

Newbold Choir visit Hough Mill Swannington Newbold Choir visit Hough Mill Swannington

Newbold Choir visit Hough Mill Swannington Newbold Choir visit Hough Mill Swannington

Packington Men's Group (PMG) visit Hough Mill

In their newsletter PMG wrote: "In April, 14 PMG members visited the restored Hough Mill and the adjacent Gorse Field sites of the Swannington Heritage Trust. Normally open free on Sundays, from 2pm to 5pm, we were privileged to have our own tour guided by a first-class guide and narrator, the Trust's Bill Pemberton. A lull in the April showers allowed the full tour round Gorse Field, with its evidence of a whole millenium of surface, bell-pit and then gin mines in the shallow coal seams. Hough Mill itself has excellent visual-aid poster depictions of just how a mill works, set alongside the huge oak beams of the restored internal workings with their viewing galleries, and the enormous iconic rotating mill cap itself and its directing fantail. There is more work to be done, but the adjoining workshops and the Trust's active membership have re-built here an impressive museum exhibit, not far from our village."

Mill visit Mill visit

Nuneaton Ramblers visit Hough Mill
The group visited Hough Windmill on May 12th and afterwards went on a 5 mile walk around Swannington!

Nuneaton Ramblers visit Hough Windmill, Swannington

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