The Mill was built shortly after 1807 by the father of 19th-century mathematical physicist George Green, whose name was also George Green. It is located on the site of a previous post mill and there were at least two other mills on Windmill Lane in Sneinton. A windmill is, in essence, a simple machine, capturing the power of the wind to turn the millstones and grind grain to flour. Yet there is more to a mill than this, particularly a large tower mill such as Green’s Mill. Although the power source - the wind - is free it is greatly variable, not only in strength but also in direction. The windmill must be able to work in the lighter breezes and yet be able to mill safely in a near gale. Or with a wind that gusts one moment and dies away the next and which can rapidly change direction, too. The supply of grain to the millstones must be regulated according to the speed at which the mill is working, as must the gap between the stones. The miller needs to be able to start and stop the mill, hoist sacks up the mill, clean the grain and store it.
The windmill is an integrated system of many different mechanisms. Some of these, such as the bevel gears, have been employed for perhaps two thousand years or more, first being used in the watermills that preceded windmills. Others, such as the fantail that keeps the sails facing into the wind, are more recent. The evolution of windmills is a tribute to the cunning and innovation of countless millers and millwrights who strove to make their mills grind grain to flour more efficiently and safely. Green’s Mill is a fine example of a 19th century tower windmill. Although extensively restored, the materials and methods used by the millwrights are very much those that were used in the original construction of the mill over two hundred years ago. Green’s Mill stands on a ridge overlooking the Trent Valley. It is an excellent site for a windmill, being exposed to the winds from all directions. Windmills were often built on hills or on slopes. This helped ensure that the mill was free from the turbulence caused by the wind blowing over houses, trees, hedges or rough ground. Also, the wind blows faster as it passes over a hill, giving greater power to the windmill. Around the millyard the buildings housing the Science Centre are on the same plan as the original granaries, stables and outbuildings that once served the mill.
George Green was 14 years old when his father built the windmill and for most of the rest of his life George worked in the windmill. But George Green was also a brilliant mathematician and physicist. He devised new ways of doing mathematics which he used to make many discoveries about such things as electricity, magnetism, light, sound and wave motion. His mathematics – still called Green’s Theorem and Green’s function – are used today by scientists and engineers all over the world working with computers, lasers, satellite communications. Research scientists trying to understand the gravitational field of the Earth and sub-atomic particles, for example, use his mathematics.
Remarkably George Green had only 14 months at school, leaving when he was only ten years old to work in his father’s bakery and later in the windmill. In 1828 this self-taught genius published his greatest scientific work where he devised a completely new way of using mathematics to understand electricity and magnetism. Five years later he became a student at Caius College in Cambridge; he was forty years old. After taking his degree in mathematics he became a Fellow of the college where he did more research and published more scientific papers. But his health failed and heAn image of Green's Memorial in Westminster Abbey returned to Nottingham, to his partner Jane Green and their seven children. He died in 1841 at the age of only 47 years. He is buried at St Stephen’s church, almost within the shadow of his windmill.
In the small Science Centre next to the mill you can discover the remarkable story of George Green and his achievements and experiment with the things that fascinated him, such as light, electricity and magnetism. There are some steps up from the car park on Windmill Lane. If you have mobility problems you can get into the millyard via Belvoir Hill. The mill is wheelchair accessible. There is a lot to touch and smell for the visually impaired. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : Windmill Lane, Sneinton, Nottingham NG2 4QB
Transport: Nottingham (National Rail) then bus or 15 minutes. Bus Routes : 43 stops outside.
Opening Times : Wednesday to Sunday + Bank Holidays 10:00 to 16:00
Tickets : Free
Tel: 0115 915 6878