Tag Archives: windpump


I would ramble at length as usual, but my brain is in the Christmas-New Year sludge, this time more than ever it seems. I have to admit, I am enjoying not doing much of anything at all.

This animation loop was rendered back in March, as a submission for Thurne Mill’s 200th birthday exhibition (which, of course, was indefinitely postponed). Thanks to the BBC Sound Effects Archive for the audio.

Perhaps it will calm things down for you, for all of eighteen seconds at least.

Rather sooner than I was expecting, we’re back to Ludham in the thirties and here’s that brighter, more postcard-appropriate view of
Beaumont’s Mill I touted last time. It’s even in colour, kinda – it was my old way of drawing something in tones and then colouring over the top with Photoshop’s blending modes doing their thing. I would call it magic, but that would suggest something impressive. I haven’t employed such a technique in a while, and when coming to the mill’s sails I remembered why: it’s bloody fiddly (as are the sails in general, I hasten to add. I don’t know why I keep putting myself through it). I much prefer the monochrome version.

What a pretty view this should be, though, with a charming craft strolling past the mill. By this point, trade would have well and truly given way to leisure and the Broads would have been one of the country’s premier getaway locations, surely driven by images so quaint as this. Needless to say, I would have enjoyed the voyage around the Broads back then as no doubt there would have been windmills twirling hypnotically all over the place. What can I say? Born in the wrong century.

thurne-motorI’ve put my windmill models into action before, using keyframes to bookend the motion of the sails. This time around, however, I’m playing with some of the software’s simulation tools and sticking the sails onto a Motor object. As you’d expect, this works rather like a continuous supply of energy, allowing objects to move or spin, depending on your configuration. It seems silly that I’ve not thought to use this before now, but then, I never have been one for the simple route!

With that constant power, the controls simply allow you to moderate and determine how much it provides, making a smooth start and fluctuating revolution speeds a breeze to animate. Not a ground-breaker, perhaps, but satisfying, and a very useful thing to have discovered.

Our subject for this experiment is Thurne, which stands on the outskirts of the village of the same name and beside the river of the same name. It was built in 1820 and worked for over a century, shutting down for the last time in 1936. By 1950, and like many of its peers at the time, the mill was lying derelict and under threat of demolition, but fortunately rescue came at the hands of Bob Morse, a windmill fanatic, and soon the Windmill Trust took it on. Since then, it has been kept in good condition and, with its splendid white coat and pretty vicinity, enjoys a reputation as one of the most popular on the Broads – I believe recently it has even been restored to full working order, an accolade that can’t be boasted by many broadland mills and one which makes it even more worth a visit.

A short time ago, I posted a clip of the motor power on my Instagram gallery.


broadside-1-captionedThe heat, am I right folks?

As sweltering as it’s been, the week has been less than productive. I’ve barely been able to function, never mind sit in front of a computer and make stuff – and it looks to be continuing for a little while yet. At least it means time in the garden, the whiff of nearby barbecues, and ice lollies a-plenty!

After much desperate fumbling, look what came out. What a surprise! It’s like they’re instinctive; I never tire of them! The foremost windpump is based on an old reference from Ludham, and I believe has since been demolished. I wish it were still here. I improvised the rest to try and give a quintessentially Norfolk picture-postcard image – in composition, at least. Of course, where else would one rather be in this weather? I did attempt to add colour and gradients and goodness knows what else, but felt it stronger without the adjustments.

The postcard concept came to me after a hugely important item on the local news, highlighting how few of them are sent these days. As if the windmill weren’t a natural subject before that: like most five-year olds, I indulged in deltiology and put together – and filled – an album of windmill postcards which I could marvel at, draw from, or both. I called it a ‘Walbum’, and no day out was complete without a new one to add to the collection. I wonder if my parents still have it…

Oh, and just for luck: here’s a piece several months old, somehow overlooked back when I was playing with brisk settings (something I really ought to get back into, as it was a heap of fun). It’s rather stormy – might we get a rumble of thunder soon? Fingers crossed.


stolaves0059It’s National Mills Weekend, don’t you know? That this passed me by until now is, frankly, shameful. So, if you’ve got nothing to do with you Sunday, why not go see a wind or watermill? Many will be open and, weather permitting, working!

To honour the festivities, here are some half-finished models and scenes of St Olaves Mill, a cute little smock pump standing beside the River Waveney, and not the sea as envisioned here. Essentially this is the same structure as Boardman’s Mill; indeed it may have been exactly the same in infancy, and later encased in weatherboarding.

Built on the site of a former mill, it came relatively late to the party, erected in 1915 and working through to the sixties. Following a brief spell on its own, the mill was restored in 1980 and given a thick coat of paint. It’s still in good shape, and in a perfectly reachable spot, so is ready and waiting should you want to capitalise on the occasion.

The main reason these never came sooner is because of experimentation with using hair dynamics for ‘real’ grass. While it performed better than expected, I’m afraid I found myself becoming frustrated with the configurations after a while, sometimes going backwards rather than forwards. There’s potential there, though.


For extra pertinent fun, here’s a look at all the mills I’ve built so far. Honestly, I was sure I’d made more than this! But it does me good seeing some progress.

storm-windpump-1I had no intention of drawing this evening, but after quite an eventful day felt the need to pass time. There are worse ways. Fortunately, just as said urge took hold, I came across another charmingly set photato of a drainage mill in South Walsham and had started really before I was aware – and, evidently, went in quite heavy. Though the caption mentions Fleet Dyke; I can’t seem to find much more about specific mills there, so her fate post-reference is up in the air.

There’s not really much more to say, I suppose, other than how pleasingly right it seems for me to once again be enchanted by windmills, drawing windmills and turning to them for comfort. It’s one of the many good things I owe to this blog. As I’ve previously mentioned, it was always the way as a little boy, so I shouldn’t be surprised about the return as much as why I ever stopped in the first place!

clayrack3-20bBack to resplendence for a moment, as this model has been sitting around for about a month now, waiting to say hello. Here is Clayrack Drainage Mill, a small but very impressive hollow-post pump which dates back to the early 19th century, with its career ending in 1903. Though it spends retirement beside the River Ant in How Hill, Ludham – just a short walk north of Boardman’s Mill and Turf Fen Mill – it was situated in the village of Ranworth until 1981, when it was moved and fully restored.

With three different mills so close together, it’ll come of no surprise to anybody reading this that I loved How Hill as a child, and indeed still do. It’s a really lovely place; you not only have these on a nice riverside walk, but also the Edwardian How Hill House and the Toad Hole Cottage, a tiny museum set in what was a marshman’s house.

These are the fruits of my playing around with Vue. It’s been something of a mixed bag. While the skies and vegetation look incredible, integration of my Cinema 4D models has proven harder than expected, with a couple of crashes here and there, though I’m quite sure that’s down to my machine not getting any younger. What’s more, the free program stamps even more watermarks over you once you’ve used it for thirty days, as you can see in the above renders. That’s totally to be expected, but they are bothering me, and I have a viable alternative in C4D, so I’m probably going to revert to that. Vue is a great looking programme, though, and comes much recommended.

clayrack3-3The sun sets on Vue, for now at least. It’s been fun!


catfieldmill-2The annual Christmas weariness is well and truly here; stuck in that seemingly unending in-between stretch before we’re all forced to be jolly once more. Yay! Perhaps as a means of killing time, nostalgia is rife at this time of year. Last year, I ended up revisiting Doom – as indeed I have this year, too! – this year, in my lethargy I found myself drawing a windmill; a good old two-dimensional drawing of the thing, rather than a model, for the first time in quite a while – a miniature throwback of its own. It was a relative quickie, coming in at just over an hour, but it was nice to be ‘sucked in’ and rescued from my wandering – I suppose I ought to have known by now, I can always turn to a windmill!

The mill you see is Swim Coots Mill, a drainage mill that also ground animal feed. Situated in the village of Catfield just beside Hickling Broad, and indeed owned by a family who ran several mills in Hickling, it was built in the early nineteenth century and makes for a charming little structure, with its tiddly sails atop a tower with a very pronounced batter. The mill worked until the mid-twentieth century, when, like many of its colleagues, it was obsoleted by electric and oil pumps; the tower still stands, but is today capped by a rather unsightly tin helmet.

What intrigues me the most is the chap in the reference (there were others, but in my haste they turned out really quite badly, so I removed them). Who is he? The miller? Me in a past life? Both…?

Click here for a GIF of the mill with its sails turning.

It’s late and I really ought to be in bed, so my apologies in advance for the countless errors and contradictions that are inevitably going to plague this post.

I’ve been doing some more 3D this evening. The idea of building a typical Norfolk drainage mill came quite innately, really; I’ve written beneath my drawings of them how they have long fascinated me and how powerful I think they are a subject, given that they tend to be either in a state of wonderful resplendence or haunting disrepair, slowly sinking into the boggy nowhere of the marshes.

It’s taken about six or seven hours to get to the result you see here. Given that I was going almost entirely from the images burned into my mind, I think it turned out pretty well! The most challenging part of the exercise, by far, was the boat-shaped cap. It is not perfect by any stretch, cobbled together using three arches and a loft-NURBS standing upon a distorted cylinder for the skirting. I don’t really know what happened to the texture on the front face of the cap, it seems to have gone a bit doolally without my permission.

The prospect of the fantail scared me a little, but it was joyously simple to create – a sliced tube and a cuboid, cloned radially with a slight angular transformation – and creating the stripe pattern was equally pleasant.

Indeed, it was generally far less of a headache all round than I envisioned. I need to work on building landscapes, though – that’s one thing that didn’t go terribly well, which is quite something when you consider that Norfolk is flatter than the flattest pancake. I tried to render a scene with actual ‘hair’ grass, but it was taking several minutes a frame, and I’m phenomenally impatient. The physical sky tools were intriguing, allowing you to put in a date and time and light accordingly… however, the apocalyptic green sunsets I was getting suggested I was maybe not calibrating it correctly.

Here’s a slightly closer shot allowing for greater perusal of the texture. My my, that door really is close to the river, isn’t it? Best keep that closed. But never mind about that.



A derelict from a derelict…

Here’s Brograve Mill. There are windpumps seemingly at every turn in the Norfolk Broads, though of course in the past, there were many, many more, each one playing a hugely important role in transferring water into the man-made ‘cuts’ to gift farmers with plentiful and fertile land. Though a lucky few have been resplendently restored, even showboating by turning their sails, the majority have either been torn down, or stand in states of somewhat haunting disrepair… evocative emblems of a fading past. No longer needed. Erected in 1771 and abandoned in 1930, now occupied only by cormorants, this mill has been left to slowly sink into the boggy Brograve Level. Its cap and most of the sails have long rotted away, and the structure has developed a very visible lean in recent years; you wonder how much longer it can stand, even if it is listed, banded and landtied.

I’ve spoken before of how much I enjoy drawing mills for both the nostalgia and sheer inspiration they invoke. Brograve Mill is quite a celebrity of the broads, appearing to be a very popular subject for both photographs, paintings and drawings. Here’s one more! It’s looking quite pretty and intriguing in the warm afternoon… drown out the colour and antagonise the sky, and it would be quite a different story.

I also said in there that, one day, I’d own and live in one – I’m still working on that.