Windmills in Poland appeared at the beginning of the 14th century, a few centuries later than the water mills, which already operated in the mid-12th century. Source records mention their functioning in Wielkopolska and Kujawy regions. In the 15th century, their building clearly spread, which is known thanks to the permits for their construction. The flourishing of windmills lasted until the 18th century, and they were part of the Polish landscape until the 19th century.
The location of the windmill depended on the weather conditions prevailing in a particular place, i.e. the strength and direction of winds, the number of windy days and the topography. Most often they were placed on hills, away from buildings and forests, in the largest possible open space or near large water reservoirs. In flat areas, artificial mounds were built or stone and brick foundations were erected on which a windmill was placed. All these measures were aimed at enabling the maximum use of the wind as a driving force. Convenient access roads leading to the mill were also marked out and hardened, so that the horse-drawn vehicles bringing the grain and the flour away could freely reach the windmill itself.
The post mills were made of wood and covered with shingles from the outside. They had three floors. The lowest one was occupied by the stabilizing structure of the trestle, consisting of two intersecting foundations, supporting a pole, constituting the vertical axis around which the entire structure of the windmill and the mechanism were rotated, so that its propellers (also known as wings) could take a suitable position in relation to the driving wind. The two upper floors were dedicated to the production of flour. In the middle one there were millstones with a basket. In the attic there was a place for a wing shaft, converting wind energy into the work of mechanisms. A transmission wheel and a smaller wheel were mounted on the shaft, moving the millstone, transmitting the rotary motion of the horizontal shaft to the vertical axis of the millstone. After grinding, the grain was transported to the container with the sifter, and then, in the form of flour or groats, the finished product left the windmill and was loaded onto carts. The post mill was able to grind from 60 to 90 tons of grain on 120-150 windy days a year.
Four wings had a frame structure, which made it possible to adjust the force of wind pressure on the blades by putting on or taking off linen aprons. In the case of light gusts, the entire surface of the wings was covered to “catch” more wind, and during a storm, the sheets were removed to protect the wings from damage. In extreme conditions, the rotation of the wings was stopped, by blocking the transmission wheel. The rotation of the wings was also controlled by putting wooden staves on the propellers.
The shingled walls initially did not extend all the way to the ground because of their cost and weight. Probably this sight gave rise to fairy tales about a “a witch hut”. The stories may have meant to discourage children from approaching the windmill, as its wings were the cause of many fatal accidents.
The moving part of the post mill with wings was properly adjusted to the wind by means of the so-called tail, i.e. a diagonal drawbar, the outer section of which was on a suitable support. At the end of the drawbar, a chain could be attached, which was rolled on a vertical turnstile, causing a slow rotation of the post. Horses were also sometimes harnessed to the drawbar.
In the area of the villages of Moraczewo and Lednogóra, since the 1960s, there have been three 19th-century post windmills. They were moved from Swadzim, Sołeczno and Sędziwojewo as part of the development of the medieval Piast Trail. All of them were built at the beginning of the 19th century. Despite the late date of construction, I placed them on the website because post mills appeared in Poland in the 14th century and survived without major structural changes until the second half of the 20th century.
Website ekologia.pl, Wiatraki – arcydzieła drewnianej architektury przemysłowej.
Website wikipedia.org, Koźlak (wiatrak).