Drinkstone Smock Mill (including attached engine shed and oil engine)


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Former Smock Mill and attached outbuildings 20 metres north of Mill Cottage, Woolpit Road, Drinkstone, Suffolk, IP30 9SP


Ordnance survey map of Drinkstone Smock Mill (including attached engine shed and oil engine)
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Statutory Address:
Former Smock Mill and attached outbuildings 20 metres north of Mill Cottage, Woolpit Road, Drinkstone, Suffolk, IP30 9SP

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Mid Suffolk (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


Drinkstone Mill in Suffolk is a timber-framed smock mill structure which incorporates the base of an earlier horse-driven mill, and which was engine-driven in the final phase of its working life. The sails and fantail have been removed, but the engine and belt drives and the buildings which house them survive in-situ, as does the milling machinery installed to replace the sail-driven machinery once the mill ceased to be wind-powered. The mill is one of two historic mill structures standing on the Drinkstone site, the other being a post mill, (list entry 1032625) listed at Grade I. Both mills and the associated mill house are now located within a conservation area.

Reasons for Designation

Drinkstone Smock Mill in Suffolk, a timber- framed windmill which retains evidence of three different systems of motive power, including the in-situ survival of a C20 oil engine and associated drive and milling machinery, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Technological interest: as a rare and possibly unique example in a national context of a mill structure retaining substantial evidence of three successive means of power generation - as a horse mill, as a windmill, and finally as an engine-driven mill.

* Historic interest: as a major component of a historic milling site, one of two important mill structures and their associated buildings representative of a long history of powered milling in the locality.

* Architectural interest: as a substantially-intact example of a timber-framed smock mill tower constructed on the surviving base of the original horse mill on the site.

* Machinery: as a site which retains significant machinery, fixtures and fittings related to its milling function, including an oil engine, belt drives, gearing and milling machinery, together with surviving elements of its wind-driven phase of operation visible in the mill cap.


Drinkstone Smock Mill is one of two historic windmill structures sited close to one another at Woolpit Road in Drinkstone, Suffolk. The present mill is believed to have been constructed in the late C18 on the site of an earlier horse mill, the sixteen-sided brick-built base of which provides the support for the later timber-framed structure above. The original smock mill was driven by conventional canvas-spread sails, its cap hand-winded at ground level by means of a chain-operated drive. At the end of the C19, a fantail had been fitted to rotate the cap, and a pair of spring-shuttered sails replaced conventional sails. By 1870, an auxiliary steam engine, manufactured by Clayton and Shuttleworth of Lincoln, had been installed in a separate engine house on the mill site, and in the early C20, the wind-driven mill machinery was removed and replacement milling machinery installed, driven by a Cundall of Shipley oil engine housed in a single-storey extension on the north side of the mill. In 1932 a Ruston and Hornby oil-engine was installed to drive two pairs of stones, a hammer mill, a mixer and elevator used to produce animal feeds. By this time, the mill had lost its sails and fantail, and the weather-boarded exterior had been covered with tarred felt. When the mill was first listed in November 1954, it was no longer in use and the felt cladding had been largely replaced with C20 plastic sheeting. The mill cap was rebuilt in timber in 1978, and rebuilt again in plywood with new rafters and an aluminium sheet covering in 1991-94. The building is now on Historic England's Heritage At Risk List, and is in need of extensive repair.


A former smock windmill and attached outbuildings. The mill is believed to date to the late C18, and is thought to have been erected on the site of an earlier horse mill. It was altered and extended in the late C19 and early C20, by which time the sails, fantail and original wind-driven machinery had been removed. Power for the final phase of operation was provided by an oil engine installed in 1932.

MATERIALS. The mill is timber-framed, its smock tower with a weather-boarded exterior, its cap covered in metal sheeting. The tower is set upon a sixteen-sided timber-framed and brick base. Most of the upper part of the mill tower is covered in black plastic sheeting secured by vertical battens.

EXTERIOR. The mill tower is octagonal on plan and is tapered in profile above a sixteen-sided timber-framed ground-floor stage with vertical walls supported on a sixteen-sided brick base, both believed to have formed part of the earlier horse mill. This lower stage has exposed horizontal weatherboarding, and incorporates a doorway with a three-pane overlight to the central southern segment of the stage. The tower rises to support a domed 'pepperpot' cap, covered in aluminium sheeting. Projecting through the cap in a south-easterly direction are the stubs of sheer extensions that formerly supported the dormer (now removed) housing the hand winding gear. Attached to the tower to the north and north-west is a range of single-storey outbuildings. The vertically-boarded building to the north is an engine shed with a pair of external water tanks carried on projecting brick piers beyond its north wall. Attached to the building is the covering structure extending from engine house to the mill tower and enclosing the drive belts and pulleys which drove the mill. Attached to the south end of the engine house is a horizontally-boarded single-storey building, formerly a granary, formed from a re-used WW1 billet hut. This has a doorway and two six-pane windows to the south side wall, a doorway to the west gable end and a short boarded link extending to the mill tower from the south side wall.

INTERIOR. The mill tower is formed of four floors, the ground floor with a void below the suspended floor boarding, thought to have formed part of the c.1700 horse mill which preceded the smock mill on the site. Above are two further full floors, and a floor extending into and incorporating the interior of the mill cap. The tower walls are made up of panels of diagonally-braced studs set between sloping cant posts which delineate the tower facets, and horizontal sill and head timbers. At each floor level, bridging beams support the floor joists and floor boarding, the joists being nail-fixed into the head beams of the wall panels. At ground-floor level, the stubs of a pair of knee-braced beams are visible at a lower level than the three later beams and are thought to represent an original, lower floor associated with the wind-driven stage of operation. The bridging beams to the first and third-level floors are set at right angles to those at ground and second-floor level. The wall panels to the cap floor are shorter than those below, and support the curved timber curb ring of the original mill cap which in turn supports the cap frame and the renewed curved cap rafters. The original base framework for the cap also survives. Access to each level of the mill tower is by means of steep flights of timber ladder steps.

FIXTURES AND FITTINGS. The surviving fixtures and fittings are principally those related to the final phase of operation when the mill was powered by the Ruston and Hornby oil engine installed in 1932, which is still located in the attached engine house north of the mill, together with the belt drives, pulleys and line shafting connecting the engine to the pairs of millstones now located on the ground floor of the mill tower. The stones are carried on a hurst frame and are under-driven. Associated with the millstones are other early-C20 milling and mixing machines on the ground and first floors, together with the short sections of line shafting driving them, a worm-driven elevator and chutes from the first floor. There are surviving grain bins on the upper floors, but most surviving evidence of the wind-driven phase of operation, apart from a cast-iron gear ring fitted above the curb ring in the late C19 when the fan tail was installed, together with the iron track and truck wheels which formed part of the mill cap mechanism, has been removed.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Bonwick. L. Brinkstone Mills, Woolpit Road, Brinkstone Suffolk. Conservation Management Plan. Bonwick Milling Heritage Consultancy 2015


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

The listed building(s) is/are shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’), structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building (save those coloured blue on the map) are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 22 Aug 2002
Reference: IOE01/08737/15
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr A. C. A Seinet. Source Historic England Archive
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