Skidby Mill was built in 1821 by millwrights Norman and Smithson of Hull and replaced an earlier post mill on the same site. From 1854 until 1962 the mill was owned by the Thompson family, who also owned a steam roller mill in Hull and a water mill at Welton. Many mills went out of business at the end of the 19th century during the Great Agricultural Depression. However, the Thompsons had their profitable roller mills in Hull, and Benjamin Thompson loved to see himself as ‘The Miller of Skidby’. Skidby was therefore converted to the production of animal foodstuffs by raising the mill tower, building additional outbuildings and installing new animal feed machines. These changes allowed Skidby Mill to survive. In 1954 the sails were disconnected and electric machinery installed. In 1962 the Thompsons finally had to sell their business to Allied Mills, but Joseph Thompson persuaded the company to sell the mill to Beverley Rural District Council for use as a museum. In 1974 the mill was restored to full working order using wind power. Since 1913, Skidby Mill has been maintained by the millwrights R.Thompson & Sons of Alford, Lincolnshire. This long association means that they have been able to build up a picture of the 20th century conservation of the mill from the millwrights’ records.
Skidby Mill is a working four-sailed tower windmill, set in over an acre of land with magnificent views over the Wolds. The mill is unusual in still having all its original outbuildings around the courtyard. Some of these have been converted to form the Museum of East Riding Rural Life. In the Museum of East Riding Rural Life there are two exhibition galleries: the Agriculture Gallery which looks at the agricultural history of the East Riding, and the Village Life Gallery which has displays on many aspects of rural village life. Upstairs in the far gallery, it is often possible to watch the process of bagging the flour. Here you can also see the animal feed machines that helped the mill to survive, which have now been restored but are no longer used. This floor then leads into the mill tower itself, where the working mechanisms are located, together with a display on the processes involved in milling. Around the courtyard, one of the outbuildings contains some of the larger objects in the agriculture collection and another has been converted to a blacksmith's forge. At the side of the mill is a sheltered garden picnic area and a wildlife garden including a pond maintained by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.
In the base of the mill tower, where many of the interactive exhibits are located, there is also a display on the recent restoration of the mill. All the ground floor is accessible by wheelchair, and there is a dedicated toilet. There is a lift up to the Education Room, but the mill tower and flour-bagging area are not accessible for wheelchairs. However, there are webcams in the Village Life Gallery, so visitors not able to climb the tower can still see what goes on up there!
Location : Skidby Mill, Skidby, Cottingham, HU16 5TF
Transport: Cottingham (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : 61, 61C and 180 stop nearby.
Opening Times : Daily - 10:00 to 17:00; Closed for lunch 12:30 to 13:00.
Tickets : Adults: £2.50; Concessions: £1.50; Children over 5; £1.25.
Tel: 01482 848405