Skidby Mill Bicentenary

This exhibition about the bicentenary of Skidby Mill has been created by the Mill's team of volunteers. In it we look back at some of the local people who have owned or worked in the building over the past two hundred years. We also explore some of the other historical events that took place in 1821 when the mill was first constructed, in our region, across the country and in the wider world. It was a time of great inventions, technical progress and larger than life characters. Windmills had existed in the landscape for centuries, being an essential feature of village life, but industrialisation would see most windmills closing down a century after Skidby was built. The few that remain today are a key part of our heritage.


1388 — A windmill first recorded on the lands of Skidby manor.

1764 — A plan shows a post mill on the site of the current windmill.

1821 — The post mill (with two pairs of stones) was advertised for sale in the Hull Advertiser. The first brick tower mill was probably built by Norman & Smithson millwrights, of Sykes Street, Hull. A date stone just below the current balcony level records this event. The height of the original tower was about 38 feet, where a distinct 'waist' can be seen on the brickwork, the upper part of the tower being built more vertically from that point upwards.

1854 — The mill taken over by Joseph Green Thompson, the son of Leonard Thompson (who was the miller at Hessle Mill). J.G. Thompson also owned Cottingham Low Mill. The Thompsons would own Skidby Mill for over a century, until it passed to local authority control.

1855 — An Ordnance Survey map shows the mill as a free-standing structure i.e. none of the current range of courtyard buildings then existed

1878 (approximately) — the Cottingham Low Mill was demolished. It may have been then that the tower was raised to its present height (58 feet) and the outbuildings added. The raising of the tower would have been necessary to give clearance for the sails. The work on the tower was likely carried out by George Reed of Howden, millwright.

1900 — Thompsons had a turnover of £14,308, with a profit of £1024 4s 1/2d for that year.

1914 — a serious fire destroys much of the courtyard range, but the mill itself escaped damage.

1937 — Major restoration of the mill took place, carried out by R. Thompson & Son of Alford, a company that had carried out maintenance of the mill since 1913 and was to continue to do so into the modern era.

1947-1950 — the mill was out of operation due to an unsafe main timber in the cap.

1954 — the sack hoist was removed and an electric powered grain elevator was installed, so that the tower could be used as grain store. The Thompsons were also involved in a court case in Beverley for supplying food stuff without ration coupons. The business was fined £7000.

1962 — Skidby Mill (and Welton water mill) were purchased by Associated British Foods. More modern machinery for animal feed was installed.

1966 — Skidby mill ceased commercial operations.

1968 — Eric Thompson gave the mill to Beverley Rural District Council for the nominal sum of £1 so that it could be preserved for the public. This was formally agreed at a meeting of 7th November 1968.

1974 — The mill was restored to full working order, thanks to the efforts of Roy Gregory (of Beverley Borough Council) and a team of volunteers.

1996 — The mill taken over by East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

2001 — With the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the mill was transformed into the East Riding Museum of Rural Life, creating the current display spaces.

Photo gallery

This watercolour is part of our collections at Skidby Mill, but unfortunately cannot be displayed due to the light levels in the mill's gallery spaces. It is signed by M Thompson and dated 1915. This could be one of the Thompson family that owned the mill, however none were professional artists.
A 1960's or 70's postcard showing the mill and the mill house.
Roy Gregory and others working on the restoration of the mill.
Joe White, long term miller / caretaker at Skidby Mill.
Wooden template for printing designs onto flour bags.
Cleaning the wallower inside the mill.
Filling the hopper.
Benjamin Thompson and a group of Skidby ladies, probably 1920's.
The Thompson company's record book for 1956-1960, recording flour output and other information.
A calendar entry with Skidby Mill.
A picture of Skidby Mill.

Visit us for more

Visit Skidby Mill to view the bicentenary exhibition and discover more stories from its long history, the people that owned it and worked there, as well as a look at what else was happening in the wider world.

Visit Skidby Mill