You cannot fail to be captivated by the beautiful sight of a windmill! They are always enough to make you stop the car in order to get a better look! Amongst this country’s best loved buildings, our windmills are truly striking pieces of architecture and were incredible feats of engineering in their day. Sadly, few of these amazing structures remain for us to enjoy but those that do never fail to impress.
Watermills, on the other hand, are still relatively common sights but most of these gorgeous buildings no longer feature their wheels and have been converted into homes, pubs and restaurants. Nonetheless, their charm endures!
The Windmills and Watermills issue from Royal Mail beautifully showcases three of our finest windmills together with 3 stunning watermills. The stamps are likely to be incredibly popular given that the iconic buildings are so treasured. Which is more than can be said for wind turbines!
It’s an Ill Wind
Amidst huge concerns over the environment and the world’s depleting supplies of fossil fuels, wind turbines looked set to be the foundation of a new era of energy production. Renewable, clean energy certainly has its benefits but wind turbines haven’t exactly been embraced with open arms. Indeed, wind farms have sparked impressive outbreaks of a common condition generally known as “not in my back yard” syndrome!
This aversion should have come as no great surprise given that modern turbines boast none of the enduring charm and character of their predecessors. To make matters worse, if they could get any worse, The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is up in arms over the plans for new wind farms in Scotland.
Wind turbines deliver clean energy but kill rather a lot of birds in the process. An impressive war of words has broken out between the proponents of renewable energy and the avian conservationists. It will be interesting to see whether it is the electricity generators or the kittiwakes which emerge victorious.
Either way, it is unlikely that you will encounter anyone eulogising over the beauty of a wind turbine. It is hard to imagine the great artists of the future setting up their easels and preparing to capture their local turbine in oils! John Constable would turn in his grave! However, there is always the possibility that we will be reminded of this article when Royal Mail issue a series of stamps celebrating the beauty of offshore wind farms. But then again, perhaps not!
Turbines tend to inspire arguments whereas windmills inspire creativity! These stunning structures have captivated many an artist and have also become iconic features of several films and television series. Ibstone Windmill in Buckinghamshire was a fabulous inclusion in the 1967 film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The windmill was renovated in order to perform its starring role and provided the perfect home for the oddball Caractacus Potts and his children.
Vincent’s Mill, Shipley, West Sussex, delivered a star turn in the BBC television series Jonathan Creek and served as Creek’s home. It is interesting that both Creek and the totally bonkers Caractacus Potts were eccentric yet incredibly creative characters and both shared a talent for invention. Are we to infer that David Renwick, who conceived and wrote Jonathan Creek, was a fan of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or that inventive people are always drawn to windmills? Probably both!
Talking of creative and inventive people, Vincent’s Mill, Shipley was once owned by the great writer Hillaire Belloc! The Old Mill, Snape, Suffolk used to be the property of Benjamin Britten whilst Hogg Hill Mill in Sussex currently houses the recording studio of none other than Paul McCartney.
If you would like to discover your creative mojo or to launch a career as an inventor, it is clearly essential to move into a windmill immediately! Unfortunately, they don’t come up for sale very often and those that do have usually been relieved of their sails. If the structures have retained their machinery, these buildings can also be a little short on space inside but never on personality.
The unique charm of the windmill is certainly something to celebrate, even if you lack the funds to consider buying one. It is wonderful to see windmills showcased in the new stamp issue and this will be the first set of stamps from Royal Mail to focus on these magnificent buildings. What took them so long!