Hilldale Community Association


The stone windmill’s remains stand atop the hill today, testament still to local enterprise some 300 years later.  The remaining stonework was stabilised and pointed about 1961/2 when Peter Moores took over the running as the photograph, which I took at the time, shows, and shortly before he planted all the fir trees.  How and why it eventually met its demise as a mill, remains a mystery to this day, without further research.  As witness the following poem written by a local Mawdesley farmer and poet Frank Culshaw, some eighty years ago. 


The trees on Harrock’s windswept height, had doffed their garb of green,

Except the spiny pine, and it was crowned in snow I ween.

The mill that stood upon the hill had swung his sails all day,

As though he saw the well-filled barns, that in the valley lay,


But now, dark night has cast her veil on all that round him lay;

It hid the fields, it hid the woods, and Ribble far away.

But soon the snow-clad height was lit; by flames that mounted high,

Fanned by the rising western wind.  Swept upwards to the sky.


For many a league the flames were seen, from house or rising ground,

And by their light the watchers saw the flaming sails go round,

Till roof, floors, grain crashed down, crashed down and left alone,

When morning broke upon the hill, the blackened walls of stone.


Some said the careless miller had left loose his sails that night,

That spinning in the western gale, they set the sails alight.

Some said the miller had a horde, hid in a cellar deep,

That thieves had found, then lit the mill, while he was fast asleep.


What lit the mill on Harrock Hill remained a mystery,

From that day forth and must indeed, a mystery ever be.

Two hundred times the trees have donned their summer robes of green,

Two hundred more the autumn winds, will sweep them from the scene.


Since on the hill the old mill burned and lit the stormy night,

But still the grey stone walls stand firm and brave the tempest’s might.

Around the walls the children play, when summer’s heat is high,

And garnered in his cellars, leaves of countless summers lie.

 Thomas Culshaw

It is widely held that the windmill and at least one other at the corner of Bentley lane at the turning to Mawdesley and the Catholic church was held and run by William Anderton in the early 1700’s.

There are at least five approach roads to the mill.  The first is via Cooper’s Lane, near Barmskin Ln end, up past Halliwell-o-the Hill farm and under a stone tunnel directly into the bowels of the mill.  The second is via Sanderson’s Ln. up to Tomlinson’s farm and turn right, on past Halliwell’s.  The third is via Gauger’s Lane, off Bentley and up past the farm and the old Gauger’s house. This was where the miller or the mill-owner lived who gauged the weight and quality if the grain being delivered for milling.  The house is till occupied today; in fact, there is public footpath today over the house lawn. You can access it over the stile at the bottom of the field down from the windmill.  The fourth approach is from half way along Jackson’s Ln, next to the present day stile.  This old approach road is still there today, though unused and over grown.  It runs parallel to, but sunken below the bottom line of the present-day field footpath to Jackson’s.  It must have needed several very strong horses to pull a loaded wagon up that steep hill!  They might well have used a pair of chain horses on the last lap to the top.  There must have been at least one more approach from off Highmoor Ln.

When I first knew the ruins about seventy years ago, there was at least another three feet of stonework on top.

Below, are photographs of a former wealthy owner of Gauger’s house, the Howarth family, around 1900, where they had their own coachman and chauffer (who must have been one of the very first in this area).  The land around the mill today, I believe is part of the Harrock Hall estate.


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