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A preserved windmill at Cat and Fiddle Lane in Dale Abbey. This post mill dates from 1788 or earlier; the stone roundhouse was added in 1844. 'Derbyshire is fortunate, despite having few surviving windmills or even many remains, to still have one of the finest post mills in the country, known as the 'Cat and Fiddle Windmill' at Dale Abbey, near to Derby. A tall post mill mounted on a Midlands type roundhouse, it has suffered many reversals in fortune but despite this, it still serves to remind us of the many post mills which stood in the county. The village of Dale Abbey is about seven miles north-east of Derby, some two miles from Ilkeston. It is well known for the spectacular remains of its Abbey, as well as for its Grade 2 listed post mill known as 'The Cat and Fiddle', which stands on a rounded hill top, about 100 yards north of the A6096. The origin of the name is not at all clear. The actual date the mill was built is unclear, although carved in an upper cross tree is the date 1788. This may be the date when the mill was built but it also could have been made from a piece of wood from an earlier mill, since it was common practice to use timber from old mills. It was offered for sale in the Derby Mercury of 14th April, 1830, as follows: 'Post mill In good repair and full working order at Dale Abbey for further details contact Mrs. Buckland, the owner. The mill, with everything attached to it, will be sold and the materials taken away if the consent of the landlord cannot be obtained for occupation before 25th March next.' The mill must have been sold and the necessary consent obtained since the same post mill stands to this day at Dale Abbey. It was initially built on a mound on top of the hill, as an open trestle construction. The sandstone roundhouse was added in 1841 to provide additional storage capacity. There are four external buttresses into which the cross trees protrude. The floor of the round house is below ground level such that free access can be obtained under the cross trees. It was eventually converted, at a date unknown, into a Midland type post mill, that is the lower edge of the buck structure runs on small iron wheels on a track on the top edge of the roundhouse, affording much greater stability. In 1912 the mill was purchased by Stanton Iron Works Co. Ltd., later Stanton and Stavely, and for many years was ably maintained by them, often using their apprentice labour for the work. In 1941 the company was in fact presented the Windmill Certificate of SPAB by Rex Wailes, In recognition of their great efforts to preserve the mill. The wooden cross trees are 14' x 14' and 14' x 12' and the junction with the four quarter bars have all been recently reinforced with steel plates and angle sections. The main post is 21' diameter at the crown tree and widens out until it is 29' square at the horned base. The mill is turned into the wind by a winch on the tail pole the rope of which was, until about 1987, attached to a circle of equally spaced vertical posts around the mill. In 1994 these had been replaced by steel rings set into concrete in the ground. There are four sprung sails which are fully shuttered and which are 6'9' wide at the tip and are mounted on 6' square stocks. These are carried on a cast iron wind shaft and are mounted in poll ends, 12' x 10', with a 4' diameter knob on the front for lifting purposes. The neck journal is made of granite. The wooden, 7'4' diameter, brake wheel has recently been replaced following the tall winding of the mill in 1987. The drive to the stones is through a cast-iron wallower with 22 teeth, via the wooden upright shaft, which varies in diameter from 12' diameter at the top down to 9 1/2' diameter. The iron great spur wheel has 48 teeth at 3 1/4' pitch which drive onto the stone nuts, which have 20 wooden teeth. The stones are mounted on a hurst frame in the front of the mill. There are. one pair of peak stones and one pair of French Burrs, each 4'8' In diameter, and these can be regulated either by hand tentering or by centrifugal governors. The sack hoist, used to lift sacks of corn to the top of the mill, operates from a friction drive running on the Inside of the brake wheel rim. A wire flour dressing machine, which carries the marks 'I N 1804' Is in an extension to the tail of the mill and is driven from the brake wheel by a spur pinion at one side of the buck, via shafting. The flour produced was weighed on a steelyard, with a wooden beam into the top of which is let a steel notched plate to locate the sliding weight. A painting of the mill by Karl Wood in 1932 shows It as a complete and well cared for structure. It worked regularly up to almost the end of the Second World War, when the drive to a pair of stones broke and was not repaired until after the war. The miller's name in 1857 was David Cotton but in Kelly's Directory, 1875, the miller had become Stephen Smedley. The mill was to remain in the Smedley family until it ceased commercial operation. It finally ceased to operate in 1952 on the death of the last miller, Stephen's son, George Smedley. His widow, Marjorie, continued to tend the mill she loved for many more years. The windmill, which was by now owned by the British Steel Corporation, was put up for sale by tender in 1982 and passed into private ownership once again, together with the adjacent mill cottage, at a price said to be about £30,000. On the 27th March, 1987, at 2.15 pm, in violent north-west gales, the mill was tail winded and the brake wheel and wind shaft blown out of the front of the buck. The brake wheel, which was already rather rotten, was smashed into pieces, as were the four spring sails, whilst the buck and other parts of the structure suffered considerable damage. With the aid of grants the owner, Mr. Richardson, slowly toiled over several years to rebuild the mill and eventually, in 1993, the work was completed. The mill was again opened to the public on National Mills Day, May 1994, and can be visited by the public. The mill stands on private property but prior arrangements to visit it may sometimes be made by writing to the owner, Mr. Richardson. In January 1995 the wind once again damaged the mill and two sails were again blown off. We can only hope for early restoration of the damage.' Taken from Derbyshire Windmills by Alan Gifford.