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Windmills and Watermills

In 1758 Brindley constructed a windmill at 'The Jenkins', near to where the Burslem Town Hall is now located, for Messrs J and T Wedgwood. Up until this point in time powder was made from calcined flints by pounding them manually in a mortar. As the use of this powder was becoming increasingly popular, Brindley designed this windmill (using revolving arms) to grind the flints into a paste when the flints were put in and covered with water. The reason behind using water in the process was that this eliminated the dust-choked atmosphere that has dangerous consequences. As well as the grinding, the mill also powered a pump in order to obtain the water needed for the process.

Unfortunately, when this mill at the Jenkins was first set in motion, the sails were blown off during a high wind! This was one of Brindley's setbacks, but he soon corrected the problem and the mill was worked for many years. The process was so satisfactory that he was called upon by many other people to erect both windmills and watermills. These other mills were constructed in a variety of locations including Trentham, Wheelcock, Metherso, Ashbourne (1755-1757), Tatton, Abbey Hilton, Codan, Congleton, and Leek Corn Mill.

The mill at Congleton was to be built by Johnson with the help of Brindley. Brindley received all his directions verbally and was never allowed to see the plans as he was considered by Johnson to be a common millwright. Time proved that Johnson was incapable of completing the work, and the proprietors turned to Brindley for help. Johnson still withheld the plans from Brindley and he therefore started from scratch and designed and built the mill himself. He even made special machines for making the tooth-and-pinion wheels, which had always previously been cut by hand. Brindley even added a few improvements to the mill that led to the proprietors being very content with his work.

Brindley's notebooks indicate that even during his canal activities he continued to be busy with mills and other mechanical devices. However, due to the amount of work Brindley did in the area of canals and waterways these other activities were somewhat overshadowed.

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